The response of sub-Mediterranean grasslands to rainfall variation is influenced by early season precipitation

Stefano Chelli, Roberto Canullo, Giandiego Campetella, Armin Otto Schmitt, S. Bartha, Marco Cervellini, Camilla Wellstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Question: Climate change will likely modify patterns of precipitation, with an expected increase in intra-annual variability and increased frequency and magnitude of extreme events. The Mediterranean area is expected to be very sensitive to such events because water availability is already limited. However, the effect of precipitation variability on ecosystem services, such as plant productivity, is little known. What is the short-term effect of an experimental precipitation gradient on above-ground net primary productivity (ANPP) of two contrasting sub-Mediterranean grassland ecosystems? How does early season precipitation, i.e. dry or wet spring, influence ANPP? Do the functional groups of grasses and forbs differ in their response? Location: Torricchio Nature Reserve, Central Apennines, Italy. Methods: We selected two grasslands characterized by contrasting geophysical and soil chemical parameters (north- and south-facing slopes). In both sites, during two climatically different years, mid-season (summer) precipitation was manipulated in order to obtain a gradient of rainfall availability, comprising additional rainfall, ambient rainfall conditions and rainfall reduction. The above-ground biomass, subdivided according to the functional groups of forbs and grasses, was collected at the end of each treatment period. Results: A significant increase in ANPP due to experimental increase in summer rainfall appeared in the year with the wet spring, but only in the mesic north-facing slope. This response was driven by the increased productivity of perennial forbs, while grasses showed stable above-ground production. In contrast, in the year with the dry spring, ANPP did not respond to the experimental rainfall gradient, meaning that a dry spring leads to lower ANPP even under increased summer rainfall. The variability of ANPP increased significantly in the xeric south-facing slope in the year with the wet spring, most likely reflecting indirect effects of small-scale heterogeneity such as variations in soil depth. Conclusions: Intra-annual precipitation variation can have noticeable implications for sub-Mediterranean montane grassland agriculture: to avoid degradation due to overgrazing, livestock pressure should be limited in years with a spring drought, regardless of summer precipitation, especially in mesic grasslands.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Vegetation Science
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016

Fingerprint

grassland
productivity
rainfall
grass
summer
functional group
aboveground production
overgrazing
extreme event
aboveground biomass
nature reserve
ecosystem service
soil depth
water availability
livestock
drought
agriculture
degradation
climate change
effect

Keywords

  • ANPP
  • Climate change
  • Drought
  • Experiment
  • Functional group
  • Intra-annual rainfall
  • Precipitation variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

Cite this

The response of sub-Mediterranean grasslands to rainfall variation is influenced by early season precipitation. / Chelli, Stefano; Canullo, Roberto; Campetella, Giandiego; Schmitt, Armin Otto; Bartha, S.; Cervellini, Marco; Wellstein, Camilla.

In: Applied Vegetation Science, 2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Chelli, Stefano ; Canullo, Roberto ; Campetella, Giandiego ; Schmitt, Armin Otto ; Bartha, S. ; Cervellini, Marco ; Wellstein, Camilla. / The response of sub-Mediterranean grasslands to rainfall variation is influenced by early season precipitation. In: Applied Vegetation Science. 2016.
@article{ee0ce286a44f470386052e400e0388ce,
title = "The response of sub-Mediterranean grasslands to rainfall variation is influenced by early season precipitation",
abstract = "Question: Climate change will likely modify patterns of precipitation, with an expected increase in intra-annual variability and increased frequency and magnitude of extreme events. The Mediterranean area is expected to be very sensitive to such events because water availability is already limited. However, the effect of precipitation variability on ecosystem services, such as plant productivity, is little known. What is the short-term effect of an experimental precipitation gradient on above-ground net primary productivity (ANPP) of two contrasting sub-Mediterranean grassland ecosystems? How does early season precipitation, i.e. dry or wet spring, influence ANPP? Do the functional groups of grasses and forbs differ in their response? Location: Torricchio Nature Reserve, Central Apennines, Italy. Methods: We selected two grasslands characterized by contrasting geophysical and soil chemical parameters (north- and south-facing slopes). In both sites, during two climatically different years, mid-season (summer) precipitation was manipulated in order to obtain a gradient of rainfall availability, comprising additional rainfall, ambient rainfall conditions and rainfall reduction. The above-ground biomass, subdivided according to the functional groups of forbs and grasses, was collected at the end of each treatment period. Results: A significant increase in ANPP due to experimental increase in summer rainfall appeared in the year with the wet spring, but only in the mesic north-facing slope. This response was driven by the increased productivity of perennial forbs, while grasses showed stable above-ground production. In contrast, in the year with the dry spring, ANPP did not respond to the experimental rainfall gradient, meaning that a dry spring leads to lower ANPP even under increased summer rainfall. The variability of ANPP increased significantly in the xeric south-facing slope in the year with the wet spring, most likely reflecting indirect effects of small-scale heterogeneity such as variations in soil depth. Conclusions: Intra-annual precipitation variation can have noticeable implications for sub-Mediterranean montane grassland agriculture: to avoid degradation due to overgrazing, livestock pressure should be limited in years with a spring drought, regardless of summer precipitation, especially in mesic grasslands.",
keywords = "ANPP, Climate change, Drought, Experiment, Functional group, Intra-annual rainfall, Precipitation variation",
author = "Stefano Chelli and Roberto Canullo and Giandiego Campetella and Schmitt, {Armin Otto} and S. Bartha and Marco Cervellini and Camilla Wellstein",
year = "2016",
doi = "10.1111/avsc.12247",
language = "English",
journal = "Applied Vegetation Science",
issn = "1402-2001",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The response of sub-Mediterranean grasslands to rainfall variation is influenced by early season precipitation

AU - Chelli, Stefano

AU - Canullo, Roberto

AU - Campetella, Giandiego

AU - Schmitt, Armin Otto

AU - Bartha, S.

AU - Cervellini, Marco

AU - Wellstein, Camilla

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - Question: Climate change will likely modify patterns of precipitation, with an expected increase in intra-annual variability and increased frequency and magnitude of extreme events. The Mediterranean area is expected to be very sensitive to such events because water availability is already limited. However, the effect of precipitation variability on ecosystem services, such as plant productivity, is little known. What is the short-term effect of an experimental precipitation gradient on above-ground net primary productivity (ANPP) of two contrasting sub-Mediterranean grassland ecosystems? How does early season precipitation, i.e. dry or wet spring, influence ANPP? Do the functional groups of grasses and forbs differ in their response? Location: Torricchio Nature Reserve, Central Apennines, Italy. Methods: We selected two grasslands characterized by contrasting geophysical and soil chemical parameters (north- and south-facing slopes). In both sites, during two climatically different years, mid-season (summer) precipitation was manipulated in order to obtain a gradient of rainfall availability, comprising additional rainfall, ambient rainfall conditions and rainfall reduction. The above-ground biomass, subdivided according to the functional groups of forbs and grasses, was collected at the end of each treatment period. Results: A significant increase in ANPP due to experimental increase in summer rainfall appeared in the year with the wet spring, but only in the mesic north-facing slope. This response was driven by the increased productivity of perennial forbs, while grasses showed stable above-ground production. In contrast, in the year with the dry spring, ANPP did not respond to the experimental rainfall gradient, meaning that a dry spring leads to lower ANPP even under increased summer rainfall. The variability of ANPP increased significantly in the xeric south-facing slope in the year with the wet spring, most likely reflecting indirect effects of small-scale heterogeneity such as variations in soil depth. Conclusions: Intra-annual precipitation variation can have noticeable implications for sub-Mediterranean montane grassland agriculture: to avoid degradation due to overgrazing, livestock pressure should be limited in years with a spring drought, regardless of summer precipitation, especially in mesic grasslands.

AB - Question: Climate change will likely modify patterns of precipitation, with an expected increase in intra-annual variability and increased frequency and magnitude of extreme events. The Mediterranean area is expected to be very sensitive to such events because water availability is already limited. However, the effect of precipitation variability on ecosystem services, such as plant productivity, is little known. What is the short-term effect of an experimental precipitation gradient on above-ground net primary productivity (ANPP) of two contrasting sub-Mediterranean grassland ecosystems? How does early season precipitation, i.e. dry or wet spring, influence ANPP? Do the functional groups of grasses and forbs differ in their response? Location: Torricchio Nature Reserve, Central Apennines, Italy. Methods: We selected two grasslands characterized by contrasting geophysical and soil chemical parameters (north- and south-facing slopes). In both sites, during two climatically different years, mid-season (summer) precipitation was manipulated in order to obtain a gradient of rainfall availability, comprising additional rainfall, ambient rainfall conditions and rainfall reduction. The above-ground biomass, subdivided according to the functional groups of forbs and grasses, was collected at the end of each treatment period. Results: A significant increase in ANPP due to experimental increase in summer rainfall appeared in the year with the wet spring, but only in the mesic north-facing slope. This response was driven by the increased productivity of perennial forbs, while grasses showed stable above-ground production. In contrast, in the year with the dry spring, ANPP did not respond to the experimental rainfall gradient, meaning that a dry spring leads to lower ANPP even under increased summer rainfall. The variability of ANPP increased significantly in the xeric south-facing slope in the year with the wet spring, most likely reflecting indirect effects of small-scale heterogeneity such as variations in soil depth. Conclusions: Intra-annual precipitation variation can have noticeable implications for sub-Mediterranean montane grassland agriculture: to avoid degradation due to overgrazing, livestock pressure should be limited in years with a spring drought, regardless of summer precipitation, especially in mesic grasslands.

KW - ANPP

KW - Climate change

KW - Drought

KW - Experiment

KW - Functional group

KW - Intra-annual rainfall

KW - Precipitation variation

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84981352264&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84981352264&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/avsc.12247

DO - 10.1111/avsc.12247

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84981352264

JO - Applied Vegetation Science

JF - Applied Vegetation Science

SN - 1402-2001

ER -