Ecosystem responses to changes in plant functional type composition: An example from the Patagonian steppe

Ecosystem responses to changes in plant functional type composition: An example from the... Abstract. Grass cover along a grazing intensity gradient in Patagonia decreases, whereas bare soil and shrub cover increases. Our objective was to study the effect of a change in the dominant plant functional type on soil water balance, primary production, herbivore biomass, roughness, and albedo. Using a soil water balance model, we found increases in evaporation and deep drainage, and a decrease in total transpiration along the grazing intensity gradient. Above‐ground primary production, estimated from transpiration, decreased along the grazing intensity gradient because shrubs did not fully compensate for the decrease in grass production. Using a statistical model, we calculated herbivore biomass from estimates of above‐ground primary production. Estimated herbivore biomass was lowest in the shrub‐dominated extreme of the grazing gradient. Roughness increased from the grass‐dominated to the shrub‐dominated community. Albedo had a maximum at an intermediate position along the gradient. Our results suggest that changes in plant functional type composition, independent of changes in biomass, affect ecosystem functioning and the exchange of energy and material with the atmosphere. Grasses and shrubs proved to be appropriate plant functional types to link structure and function of ecosystems. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Vegetation Science Wiley

Ecosystem responses to changes in plant functional type composition: An example from the Patagonian steppe

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
1996 IAVS ‐ the International Association of Vegetation Science
ISSN
1100-9233
eISSN
1654-1103
DOI
10.2307/3236281
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract. Grass cover along a grazing intensity gradient in Patagonia decreases, whereas bare soil and shrub cover increases. Our objective was to study the effect of a change in the dominant plant functional type on soil water balance, primary production, herbivore biomass, roughness, and albedo. Using a soil water balance model, we found increases in evaporation and deep drainage, and a decrease in total transpiration along the grazing intensity gradient. Above‐ground primary production, estimated from transpiration, decreased along the grazing intensity gradient because shrubs did not fully compensate for the decrease in grass production. Using a statistical model, we calculated herbivore biomass from estimates of above‐ground primary production. Estimated herbivore biomass was lowest in the shrub‐dominated extreme of the grazing gradient. Roughness increased from the grass‐dominated to the shrub‐dominated community. Albedo had a maximum at an intermediate position along the gradient. Our results suggest that changes in plant functional type composition, independent of changes in biomass, affect ecosystem functioning and the exchange of energy and material with the atmosphere. Grasses and shrubs proved to be appropriate plant functional types to link structure and function of ecosystems.

Journal

Journal of Vegetation ScienceWiley

Published: Jun 1, 1996

References

  • Phenology of Festuca pallescens in relation to topography in north‐ western Patagonia
    Bertiller, Bertiller; Irisarri, Irisarri; Ares, Ares
  • Model for predicting evaporation from a row crop with incomplete cover
    Ritchie, Ritchie
  • Primary production of the central grasslands region of the United States
    Sala, Sala; Parton, Parton; Joyce, Joyce; Lauenroth, Lauenroth
  • Resource partitioning between shrubs and grasses in the Patagonian steppe
    Sala, Sala; Golluscio, Golluscio; Lauenroth, Lauenroth; Soriano, Soriano

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