High Resilience in Heathland Plants to Changes in Temperature, Drought, and CO2 in Combination: Results from the CLIMAITE Experiment

J. Kongstad, Inger K. Schmidt, Torben Riis-Nielsen, Marie F. Arndal, Teis Nørgaard Mikkelsen, Claus Beier

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Climate change scenarios predict simultaneouslyincrease in temperature, altered precipitation patternsand elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration,which will affect key ecosystem processes and plantgrowth and species interactions. In a large-scaleexperiment, we investigated the effects of in situexposure to elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration,increased temperature and prolonged droughtperiods on the plant biomass in a dry heathland(Brandbjerg, Denmark). Results after 3 yearsshowed that drought reduced the growth of thetwo dominant species Deschampsia flexuosa and Callunavulgaris. However, both species recoveredquickly after rewetting and the drought had nosignificant effect on annual aboveground biomassproduction. We did not observe any effects of increasedtemperature. Elevated CO2 stimulated the biomass production for D. flexuosa in one out ofthree years but did not influence the standingbiomass for either D. flexuosa or the ecosystem asmore litter was produced. Treatment combinationsshowed little interactions on the measuredparameters and in particular elevated CO2 did notcounterbalance the drought effect on plant growth,as we had anticipated. The plant community didnot show any significant responses to the imposedclimate changes and we conclude that the twoheathland species, on a short time scale, will berelatively resistant to the changes in climatic conditions

    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)269-283
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Deschampsia flexuosa
    • Calluna vulgaris
    • Plant production
    • Climate change
    • Plant–plant interactions
    • Biodiversity
    • FACE

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