Emeritus Faculty, Acad Council, Natural Sciences
Senior Fellow, Emeritus, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
Shifting plant phenology (i.e., timing of flowering and other developmental events) in recent decades establishes that species and ecosystems are already responding to global environmental change. Earlier flowering and an extended period of active plant growth across much of the northern hemisphere have been interpreted as responses to warming. However, several kinds of environmental change have the potential to influence the phenology of flowering and primary production. Here, we report shifts in phenology of flowering and canopy greenness (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) in response to four experimentally simulated global changes: warming, elevated CO(2), nitrogen (N) deposition, and increased precipitation. Consistent with previous observations, warming accelerated both flowering and greening of the canopy, but phenological responses to the other global change treatments were diverse. Elevated CO(2) and N addition delayed flowering in grasses, but slightly accelerated flowering in forbs. The opposing responses of these two important functional groups decreased their phenological complementarity and potentially increased competition for limiting soil resources. At the ecosystem level, timing of canopy greenness mirrored the flowering phenology of the grasses, which dominate primary production in this system. Elevated CO(2) delayed greening, whereas N addition dampened the acceleration of greening caused by warming. Increased precipitation had no consistent impacts on phenology. This diversity of phenological changes, between plant functional groups and in response to multiple environmental changes, helps explain the diversity in large-scale observations and indicates that changing temperature is only one of several factors reshaping the seasonality of ecosystem processes.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0600815103
View details for Web of Science ID 000240648300035
View details for PubMedID 16954189
Conventional agriculture has improved in crop yield but at large costs to the environment, particularly off-site pollution from mineral N fertilizers. In response to environmental concerns, organic agriculture has become an increasingly popular option. One component of organic agriculture that remains in question is whether it can reduce agricultural N losses to groundwater and the atmosphere relative to conventional agriculture. Here we report reduced N pollution from organic and integrated farming systems compared with a conventional farming system. We evaluated differences in denitrification potential and a suite of other soil biological and chemical properties in soil samples taken from organic, integrated, and conventional treatments in an experimental apple orchard. Organically farmed soils exhibited higher potential denitrification rates, greater denitrification efficiency, higher organic matter, and greater microbial activity than conventionally farmed soils. The observed differences in denitrifier function were then assessed under field conditions after fertilization. N(2)O emissions were not significantly different among treatments; however, N(2) emissions were highest in organic plots. Annual nitrate leaching was 4.4-5.6 times higher in conventional plots than in organic plots, with the integrated plots in between. This study demonstrates that organic and integrated fertilization practices support more active and efficient denitrifier communities, shift the balance of N(2) emissions and nitrate losses, and reduce environmentally damaging nitrate losses. Although this study specifically examines a perennial orchard system, the ecological and biogeochemical processes we evaluated are present in all agroecosystems, and the reductions in nitrate loss in this study could also be achievable in other cropping systems.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0600359103
View details for Web of Science ID 000236362600037
View details for PubMedID 16537377
In this study, the influence of elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen (N) deposition on gastropod herbivory was investigated for six annual species in a California annual grassland community. These experimentally simulated global changes increased availability of important resources for plant growth, leading to the hypothesis that species with the most positive growth and foliar nutrient responses would experience the greatest increase in herbivory. Counter to the expectations, shifts in tissue N and growth rates caused by N deposition did not predict shifts in herbivore consumption rates. N deposition increased seedling N concentrations and growth rates but did not increase herbivore consumption overall, or for any individual species. Elevated CO2 did not influence growth rates nor have a statistically significant influence on seedling N concentrations. Elevated CO2 at ambient N levels caused a decline in the number of seedlings consumed, but the interaction between CO2 and N addition differed among species. The results of this study indicate that shifting patterns of herbivory will likely influence species composition as environmental conditions change in the future; however, a simple trade-off between shifting growth rates and palatability is not evident.
View details for Web of Science ID 000236289600017
View details for PubMedID 16602298
In this century, increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are expected to cause warmer surface temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns. At the same time, reactive nitrogen is entering natural systems at unprecedented rates. These global environmental changes have consequences for the functioning of natural ecosystems, and responses of these systems may feed back to affect climate and atmospheric composition. Here, we report plant growth responses of an ecosystem exposed to factorial combinations of four expected global environmental changes. We exposed California grassland to elevated CO2, temperature, precipitation, and nitrogen deposition for five years. Root and shoot production did not respond to elevated CO2 or modest warming. Supplemental precipitation led to increases in shoot production and offsetting decreases in root production. Supplemental nitrate deposition increased total production by an average of 26%, primarily by stimulating shoot growth. Interactions among the main treatments were rare. Together, these results suggest that production in this grassland will respond minimally to changes in CO2 and winter precipitation, and to small amounts of warming. Increased nitrate deposition would have stronger effects on the grassland. Aside from this nitrate response, expectations that a changing atmosphere and climate would promote carbon storage by increasing plant growth appear unlikely to be realized in this system.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.0030319
View details for Web of Science ID 000232404600016
View details for PubMedID 16076244
Hundreds of scientists from over 70 nations are now engaged in an intensive effort to assess what we know about the status of the world's ecosystems. Here, we describe the fundamental nature of this assessment, what it hopes to accomplish and how it will go about its work. The results of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment will serve as a baseline for future assessments, as well as a blueprint for action for sustaining the ecosystem services upon which we all depend for our well being.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.tree.2004.03.005
View details for Web of Science ID 000221435600003
View details for PubMedID 16701257
Biodiversity responses to ongoing climate and atmospheric changes will affect both ecosystem processes and the delivery of ecosystem goods and services. Combined effects of co-occurring global changes on diversity, however, are poorly understood. We examined plant diversity responses in a California annual grassland to manipulations of four global environmental changes, singly and in combination: elevated CO2, warming, precipitation, and nitrogen deposition. After 3 years, elevated CO2 and nitrogen deposition each reduced plant diversity, whereas elevated precipitation increased it and warming had no significant effect. Diversity responses to both single and combined global change treatments were driven overwhelmingly by gains and losses of forb species, which make up most of the native plant diversity in California grasslands. Diversity responses across treatments also showed no consistent relationship to net primary production responses, illustrating that the diversity effects of these environmental changes could not be explained simply by changes in productivity. In two- to four-way combinations, simulated global changes did not interact in any of their effects on diversity. Our results show that climate and atmospheric changes can rapidly alter biological diversity, with combined effects that, at least in some settings, are simple, additive combinations of single-factor effects.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0932734100
View details for Web of Science ID 000183845800045
View details for PubMedID 12810960
Simulated global changes, including warming, increased precipitation, and nitrogen deposition, alone and in concert, increased net primary production (NPP) in the third year of ecosystem-scale manipulations in a California annual grassland. Elevated carbon dioxide also increased NPP, but only as a single-factor treatment. Across all multifactor manipulations, elevated carbon dioxide suppressed root allocation, decreasing the positive effects of increased temperature, precipitation, and nitrogen deposition on NPP. The NPP responses to interacting global changes differed greatly from simple combinations of single-factor responses. These findings indicate the importance of a multifactor experimental approach to understanding ecosystem responses to global change.
View details for Web of Science ID 000179629200044
View details for PubMedID 12471257
Global production of farmed fish and shellfish has more than doubled in the past 15 years. Many people believe that such growth relieves pressure on ocean fisheries, but the opposite is true for some types of aquaculture. Farming carnivorous species requires large inputs of wild fish for feed. Some aquaculture systems also reduce wild fish supplies through habitat modification, wild seedstock collection and other ecological impacts. On balance, global aquaculture production still adds to world fish supplies; however, if the growing aquaculture industry is to sustain its contribution to world fish supplies, it must reduce wild fish inputs in feed and adopt more ecologically sound management practices.
View details for Web of Science ID 000087871700035
View details for PubMedID 10890435
Biological invasions are gaining attention as a major threat to biodiversity and an important element of global change. Recent research indicates that other components of global change, such as increases in nitrogen deposition and atmospheric CO2 concentration, favor groups of species that share certain physiological or life history traits. New evidence suggests that many invasive species share traits that will allow them to capitalize on the various elements of global change. Increases in the prevalence of some of these biological invaders would alter basic ecosystem properties in ways that feed back to affect many components of global change.
View details for PubMedID 10322518
Atmospheric general circulation models used for climate simulation and weather forecasting require the fluxes of radiation, heat, water vapor, and momentum across the land-atmosphere interface to be specified. These fluxes are calculated by submodels called land surface parameterizations. Over the last 20 years, these parameterizations have evolved from simple, unrealistic schemes into credible representations of the global soil-vegetation-atmosphere transfer system as advances in plant physiological and hydrological research, advances in satellite data interpretation, and the results of large-scale field experiments have been exploited. Some modern schemes incorporate biogeochemical and ecological knowledge and, when coupled with advanced climate and ocean models, will be capable of modeling the biological and physical responses of the Earth system to global change, for example, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.
View details for PubMedID 8999789
Leaves of Piper hispidum, a shrub native to the lowland tropics of Mexico, have a strong stomatal response to humidity that results in similar rates of water loss under a wide range of leaf-to-air water-vapor concentration gradients. Stomatal conductance of these leaves is insensitive to CO(2) concentration and increases in response to high humidity even in the dark.
View details for Web of Science ID A1983QF63600030
View details for PubMedID 16593286
The use of fluorescence induction measurements in leaves infiltrated with 3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea has been evaluated as a routine method for estimation of the concentration of the reaction centers of photosystem II relative to total chlorophyll in a wide variety of plant species. The procedure is based on a simple theory that takes into account the attenuation of light in passing through the leaf and the linear dependence of the fluorescence induction time from different parts of the leaf on the inverse of the local light intensity. A formula to calculate the reaction center concentration of photosystem II was obtained. The effect of the light attenuation is accounted for by a correction factor which could become practically insignificant by an optimal choice of the excitation and emission wavelengths and the geometry of the photodetector with respect to the sample. Estimation of quantum yields for primary photochemistry and influence of light scattering were considered. The results demonstrate the effect of the above factors under various circumstances and are in agreement, to a first approximation, with the theory.THE UTILITY OF THE METHOD IS DEMONSTRATED BY A DETAILED STUDY OF FOUR DESERT PLANT SPECIES: estimation of reaction center concentrations of both photosystem I (by estimation of P700) and photosystem II (by the fluorescence induction method) were made and were compared to the rates of CO(2) fixation. There was a good quantitative correlation between the photosynthetic rates and the concentration of photosystem II reaction centers (expressed as per chlorophyll or per unit area of the leaf), but no such correlation was found with photosystem I reaction centers.The ratio of total chlorophyll per reaction centers II varied in the range of about 200 to 800 in different species, but there was no variation of this parameter in any single species.
View details for Web of Science ID A1981LH50100036
View details for PubMedID 16661716
Since the Age of Exploration began, there has been a drastic breaching of biogeographic barriers that previously had isolated the continental biotas for millions of years. We explore the nature of these recent biotic exchanges and their consequences on evolutionary processes. The direct evidence of evolutionary consequences of the biotic rearrangements is of variable quality, but the results of trajectories are becoming clear as the number of studies increases. There are examples of invasive species altering the evolutionary pathway of native species by competitive exclusion, niche displacement, hybridization, introgression, predation, and ultimately extinction. Invaders themselves evolve in response to their interactions with natives, as well as in response to the new abiotic environment. Flexibility in behavior, and mutualistic interactions, can aid in the success of invaders in their new environment.
View details for Web of Science ID 000168623300016
View details for PubMedID 11344292