Reduction in primary production followed by rapid recovery of plant biomass in response to repeated mid-season droughts in a semiarid shrubland

G. Ónodi, Z. Botta-Dukát, Gy Kröel-Dulay, E. Lellei-Kovács, M. Kertész

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The frequency and severity of extreme weather events, including droughts, are expected to increase due to the climate change. Climate manipulation field experiments are widely used tools to study the response of key parameters like primary production to the treatments. Our study aimed to detect the effect of drought on the aboveground biomass and primary production both during the treatments as well as during the whole growing seasons in semiarid vegetation. We estimated aboveground green biomass of vascular plants in a Pannonian sand forest-steppe ecosystem in Hungary. We applied non-destructive field remote sensing method in control and drought treatments. Drought treatment was carried out by precipitation exclusion in May and June, and was repeated in each year from 2002. We measured NDVI before the drought treatment, right after the treatment, and at the end of the summer in 2011 and 2013. We found that the yearly biomass peaks, measured in control plots after the treatment periods, were decreased or absent in drought treatment plots, and consequently, the aboveground net primary production was smaller than in the control plots. At the same time, we did not find general drought effects on all biomass data. The studied ecosystem proved resilient, as the biomass in the drought-treated plots recovered by the next drought treatment. We conclude that the effect of drought treatment can be overestimated with only one measurement at the time of the peak biomass, while multiple within-year measurements better describe the response of biomass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-526
Number of pages10
JournalPlant Ecology
Volume219
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2018

Keywords

  • Aboveground net primary production
  • Climate change experiment
  • Drought
  • Multi-seasonal biomass estimation
  • NDVI
  • Semiarid shrubland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Plant Science

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