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A co2 concentration gradient facility for testing co2 enrichment and soil effects on grassland ecosystem function

Fay, Philip A., Reichmann, Lara G., Aspinwall, Michael J., Khasanova, Albina R., Polley, H. Wayne
Journal of visualized experiments 2015 no.105 pp. e53151
air, air flow, carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide enrichment, clay soils, greenhouse gases, landscapes, lysimeters, methane, ozone, photosynthesis, plant communities, prairie soils, prairies, sandy soils, silty clay soils, summer, temperature, terrestrial ecosystems, water stress
Continuing increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations (CA) mandate techniques for examining impacts on terrestrial ecosystems. Most experiments examine only two or a few levels of CA concentration and a single soil type, but if CA can be varied as a gradient from subambient to superambient concentrations on multiple soils, we can discern whether past ecosystem responses may continue linearly in the future and whether responses may vary across the landscape. The Lysimeter Carbon Dioxide Gradient Facility applies a 250 to 500 µl L-1 CA gradient to Blackland prairie plant communities established on lysimeters containing clay, silty clay, and sandy soils. The gradient is created as photosynthesis by vegetation enclosed in in temperature-controlled chambers progressively depletes carbon dioxide from air flowing directionally through the chambers. Maintaining proper air flow rate, adequate photosynthetic capacity, and temperature control are critical to overcome the main limitations of the system, which are declining photosynthetic rates and increased water stress during summer. The facility is an economical alternative to other techniques of CA enrichment, successfully discerns the shape of ecosystem responses to subambient to superambient CA enrichment, and can be adapted to test for interactions of carbon dioxide with other greenhouse gases such as methane or ozone.