Direct and Indirect Effects of Climate Change on a Prairie Plant Community

Prairie Grass - Creative Commons Image Credit Robert Lawton

[tweetmeme] Peter B. Adler(Utah State University), James Leiker(Kansas State University), and Jonathan M. Levine (University of California) have published a paper titled „Direct and Indirect Effects of Climate Change on a Prarie Plant Community.“  The abstract to their paper reads:

Climate change directly affects species by altering their physical environment and indirectly affects species by altering interspecific interactions such as predation and competition. Recent studies have shown that the indirect effects of climate change may amplify or counteract the direct effects. However, little is known about the the relative strength of direct and indirect effects or their potential to impact population persistence.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We studied the effects of altered precipitation and interspecific interactions on the low-density tiller growth rates and biomass production of three perennial grass species in a Kansas, USA mixed prairie. We transplanted plugs of each species into local neighborhoods of heterospecific competitors and then exposed the plugs to a factorial manipulation of growing season precipitation and neighbor removal. Precipitation treatments had significant direct effects on two of the three species. Interspecific competition also had strong effects, reducing low-density tiller growth rates and aboveground biomass production for all three species. In fact, in the presence of competitors, (log) tiller growth rates were close to or below zero for all three species. However, we found no convincing evidence that per capita competitive effects changed with precipitation, as shown by a lack of significant precipitation × competition interactions.


We found little evidence that altered precipitation will influence per capita competitive effects. However, based on species’ very low growth rates in the presence of competitors in some precipitation treatments, interspecific interactions appear strong enough to affect the balance between population persistence and local extinction. Therefore, ecological forecasting models should include the effect of interspecific interactions on population growth, even if such interaction coefficients are treated as constants.

Read the full paper in PDF format by clicking here.

Citation: Adler PB, Leiker J, Levine JM (2009) Direct and Indirect Effects of Climate Change on a Prairie Plant Community. PLoS ONE 4(9): e6887. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006887


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

  • Listed - The internets fastest growing blog directory Blog Directory Subscribe with Bloglines Environmental Activism Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory Online Marketing ToplistOnToplist Analytics is brought to you by praca
    Add blog to our directory.
%d bloggers like this: