A couple of weeks ago, we published the results from an 8-yr long field climate change experiment in PNAS. The paper describes the effects of elevated CO2, warming, and their interaction on plant community composition and production stability in a mixed-grass prairie and we show that under elevated CO2 conditions, both community composition and production are stabilized across wet and dry years. This stabilization is largely driven by a shift in community dominance patterns, a decrease in the biomass of the two dominant grasses and an increase in the biomass of subdominant species. The practical implications of these findings range from providing ranchers and land managers with information about how this mixed-grass prairie community is going to fare under future climate conditions so they can plan their grazing activities to helping understand long term carbon storage in these grasslands to refining ecosystem models of future carbon dynamics.
In other news, I will be mentoring two REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) students next summer at La Selva Biological Research Station in Costa Rica. I am looking for excellent candidates who are interested in biogeochemistry, leaf cutter ants, and tropical forest ecology. Follow this link to the program description and instructions for how to apply.