Bret-Harte M. Syndonia

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M. Syndonia

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  • Article
    Long-term experimental warming and nutrient additions increase productivity in tall deciduous shrub tundra
    (Ecological Society of America, 2014-06-19) DeMarco, Jennie ; Mack, Michelle C. ; Bret-Harte, M. Syndonia ; Burton, Mark ; Shaver, Gaius R.
    Warming Arctic temperatures can drive changes in vegetation structure and function directly by stimulating plant growth or indirectly by stimulating microbial decomposition of organic matter and releasing more nutrients for plant uptake and growth. The arctic biome is currently increasing in deciduous shrub cover and this increase is expected to continue with climate warming. However, little is known how current deciduous shrub communities will respond to future climate induced warming and nutrient increase. We examined the plant and ecosystem response to a long-term (18 years) nutrient addition and warming experiment in an Alaskan arctic tall deciduous shrub tundra ecosystem to understand controls over plant productivity and carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) storage in shrub tundra ecosystems. In addition, we used a meta-analysis approach to compare the treatment effect size for aboveground biomass among seven long-term studies conducted across multiple plant community types within the Arctic. We found that biomass, productivity, and aboveground N pools increased with nutrient additions and warming, while species diversity decreased. Both nutrient additions and warming caused the dominant functional group, deciduous shrubs, to increase biomass and proportional C and N allocation to aboveground stems but decreased allocation to belowground stems. For all response variables except soil C and N pools, effects of nutrients plus warming were largest. Soil C and N pools were highly variable and we could not detect any response to the treatments. The biomass response to warming and fertilization in tall deciduous shrub tundra was greater than moist acidic and moist non-acidic tundra and more similar to the biomass response of wet sedge tundra. Our data suggest that in a warmer and more nutrient-rich Arctic, tall deciduous shrub tundra will have greater total deciduous shrub biomass and a higher proportion of woody tissue that has a longer residence time, with a lower proportion of C and N allocated to belowground stems.
  • Article
    The response of Arctic vegetation and soils following an unusually severe tundra fire
    (The Royal Society, 2013-07-08) Bret-Harte, M. Syndonia ; Mack, Michelle C. ; Shaver, Gaius R. ; Huebner, Diane C. ; Johnston, Miriam ; Mojica, Camilo A. ; Pizano, Camila ; Reiskind, Julia A.
    Fire causes dramatic short-term changes in vegetation and ecosystem function, and may promote rapid vegetation change by creating recruitment opportunities. Climate warming likely will increase the frequency of wildfire in the Arctic, where it is not common now. In 2007, the unusually severe Anaktuvuk River fire burned 1039 km2 of tundra on Alaska's North Slope. Four years later, we harvested plant biomass and soils across a gradient of burn severity, to assess recovery. In burned areas, above-ground net primary productivity of vascular plants equalled that in unburned areas, though total live biomass was less. Graminoid biomass had recovered to unburned levels, but shrubs had not. Virtually all vascular plant biomass had resprouted from surviving underground parts; no non-native species were seen. However, bryophytes were mostly disturbance-adapted species, and non-vascular biomass had recovered less than vascular plant biomass. Soil nitrogen availability did not differ between burned and unburned sites. Graminoids showed allocation changes consistent with nitrogen stress. These patterns are similar to those seen following other, smaller tundra fires. Soil nitrogen limitation and the persistence of resprouters will likely lead to recovery of mixed shrub–sedge tussock tundra, unless permafrost thaws, as climate warms, more extensively than has yet occurred.
  • Preprint
    Long-term release of carbon dioxide from Arctic tundra ecosystems in Alaska
    ( 2016-11) Euskirchen, Eugenie ; Bret-Harte, M. Syndonia ; Shaver, Gaius R. ; Edgar, Colin W. ; Romanovsky, Vladimir
    Releases of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) from thawing permafrost are expected to be among the largest feedbacks to climate from arctic ecosystems. However, the current net carbon (C) balance of terrestrial arctic ecosystems is unknown. Recent studies suggest that these ecosystems are sources, sinks, or approximately in balance at present. This uncertainty arises because there are few long-term continuous measurements of arctic tundra CO2 fluxes over the full annual cycle. Here, we describe a pattern of CO2 loss based on the longest continuous record of direct measurements of CO2 fluxes in the Alaskan Arctic, from two representative tundra ecosystems, wet sedge and heath tundra. We also report on a shorter time series of continuous measurements from a third ecosystem, tussock tundra. The amount of CO2 loss from both heath and wet sedge ecosystems was related to the timing of freeze-up of the soil active layer in the fall. Wet sedge tundra lost the most CO2 during the anomalously warm autumn periods of September – December 2013 - 2015, with CH4 emissions contributing little to the overall C budget. Losses of C translated to approximately 4.1% and 1.4% of the total soil C stocks in active layer of the wet sedge and heath tundra, respectively, from 2008 – 2015. Increases in air temperature and soil temperatures at all depths may trigger a new trajectory of CO2 release, which will be a significant feedback to further warming if it is representative of larger areas of the Arctic.
  • Article
    Biomass offsets little or none of permafrost carbon release from soils, streams, and wildfire : an expert assessment
    (IOPScience, 2016-03-07) Abbott, Benjamin W. ; Jones, Jeremy B. ; Schuur, Edward A. G. ; Chapin, F. Stuart ; Bowden, William B. ; Bret-Harte, M. Syndonia ; Epstein, Howard E. ; Flannigan, Michael ; Harms, Tamara K. ; Hollingsworth, Teresa N. ; Mack, Michelle C. ; McGuire, A. David ; Natali, Susan M. ; Rocha, Adrian V. ; Tank, Suzanne E. ; Turetsky, Merritt R. ; Vonk, Jorien E. ; Wickland, Kimberly ; Aiken, George R. ; Alexander, Heather D. ; Amon, Rainer M. W. ; Benscoter, Brian ; Bergeron, Yves ; Bishop, Kevin ; Blarquez, Olivier ; Bond-Lamberty, Benjamin ; Breen, Amy L. ; Buffam, Ishi ; Cai, Yihua ; Carcaillet, Christopher ; Carey, Sean K. ; Chen, Jing M. ; Chen, Han Y. H. ; Christensen, Torben R. ; Cooper, Lee W. ; Cornelissen, Johannes H. C. ; de Groot, William J. ; DeLuca, Thomas Henry ; Dorrepaal, Ellen ; Fetcher, Ned ; Finlay, Jacques C. ; Forbes, Bruce C. ; French, Nancy H. F. ; Gauthier, Sylvie ; Girardin, Martin ; Goetz, Scott J. ; Goldammer, Johann G. ; Gough, Laura ; Grogan, Paul ; Guo, Laodong ; Higuera, Philip E. ; Hinzman, Larry ; Hu, Feng Sheng ; Hugelius, Gustaf ; JAFAROV, ELCHIN ; Jandt, Randi ; Johnstone, Jill F. ; Karlsson, Jan ; Kasischke, Eric S. ; Kattner, Gerhard ; Kelly, Ryan ; Keuper, Frida ; Kling, George W. ; Kortelainen, Pirkko ; Kouki, Jari ; Kuhry, Peter ; Laudon, Hjalmar ; Laurion, Isabelle ; Macdonald, Robie W. ; Mann, Paul J. ; Martikainen, Pertti ; McClelland, James W. ; Molau, Ulf ; Oberbauer, Steven F. ; Olefeldt, David ; Paré, David ; Parisien, Marc-André ; Payette, Serge ; Peng, Changhui ; Pokrovsky, Oleg ; Rastetter, Edward B. ; Raymond, Peter A. ; Raynolds, Martha K. ; Rein, Guillermo ; Reynolds, James F. ; Robards, Martin ; Rogers, Brendan ; Schädel, Christina ; Schaefer, Kevin ; Schmidt, Inger K. ; Shvidenko, Anatoly ; Sky, Jasper ; Spencer, Robert G. M. ; Starr, Gregory ; Striegl, Robert ; Teisserenc, Roman ; Tranvik, Lars J. ; Virtanen, Tarmo ; Welker, Jeffrey M. ; Zimov, Sergey A.
    As the permafrost region warms, its large organic carbon pool will be increasingly vulnerable to decomposition, combustion, and hydrologic export. Models predict that some portion of this release will be offset by increased production of Arctic and boreal biomass; however, the lack of robust estimates of net carbon balance increases the risk of further overshooting international emissions targets. Precise empirical or model-based assessments of the critical factors driving carbon balance are unlikely in the near future, so to address this gap, we present estimates from 98 permafrost-region experts of the response of biomass, wildfire, and hydrologic carbon flux to climate change. Results suggest that contrary to model projections, total permafrost-region biomass could decrease due to water stress and disturbance, factors that are not adequately incorporated in current models. Assessments indicate that end-of-the-century organic carbon release from Arctic rivers and collapsing coastlines could increase by 75% while carbon loss via burning could increase four-fold. Experts identified water balance, shifts in vegetation community, and permafrost degradation as the key sources of uncertainty in predicting future system response. In combination with previous findings, results suggest the permafrost region will become a carbon source to the atmosphere by 2100 regardless of warming scenario but that 65%–85% of permafrost carbon release can still be avoided if human emissions are actively reduced.
  • Article
    Plant functional types do not predict biomass responses to removal and fertilization in Alaskan tussock tundra
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2008-04-15) Bret-Harte, M. Syndonia ; Mack, Michelle C. ; Goldsmith, Gregory R. ; Sloan, Daniel B. ; DeMarco, Jennie ; Shaver, Gaius R. ; Ray, Peter M. ; Biesinger, Zy ; Chapin, F. Stuart
    Plant communities in natural ecosystems are changing and species are being lost due to anthropogenic impacts including global warming and increasing nitrogen (N) deposition. We removed dominant species, combinations of species and entire functional types from Alaskan tussock tundra, in the presence and absence of fertilization, to examine the effects of non-random species loss on plant interactions and ecosystem functioning. After 6 years, growth of remaining species had compensated for biomass loss due to removal in all treatments except the combined removal of moss, Betula nana and Ledum palustre (MBL), which removed the most biomass. Total vascular plant production returned to control levels in all removal treatments, including MBL. Inorganic soil nutrient availability, as indexed by resins, returned to control levels in all unfertilized removal treatments, except MBL. Although biomass compensation occurred, the species that provided most of the compensating biomass in any given treatment were not from the same functional type (growth form) as the removed species. This provides empirical evidence that functional types based on effect traits are not the same as functional types based on response to perturbation. Calculations based on redistributing N from the removed species to the remaining species suggested that dominant species from other functional types contributed most of the compensatory biomass. Fertilization did not increase total plant community biomass, because increases in graminoid and deciduous shrub biomass were offset by decreases in evergreen shrub, moss and lichen biomass. Fertilization greatly increased inorganic soil nutrient availability. In fertilized removal treatments, deciduous shrubs and graminoids grew more than expected based on their performance in the fertilized intact community, while evergreen shrubs, mosses and lichens all grew less than expected. Deciduous shrubs performed better than graminoids when B. nana was present, but not when it had been removed. Synthesis. Terrestrial ecosystem response to warmer temperatures and greater nutrient availability in the Arctic may result in vegetative stable-states dominated by either deciduous shrubs or graminoids. The current relative abundance of these dominant growth forms may serve as a predictor for future vegetation composition.
  • Article
    Seasonal patterns of carbon dioxide and water fluxes in three representative tundra ecosystems in northern Alaska
    (Ecological Society of America, 2012-01-19) Euskirchen, Eugenie ; Bret-Harte, M. Syndonia ; Scott, G. J. ; Edgar, C. ; Shaver, Gaius R.
    Understanding the carbon dioxide and water fluxes in the Arctic is essential for accurate assessment and prediction of the responses of these ecosystems to climate change. In the Arctic, there have been relatively few studies of net CO2, water, and energy exchange using micrometeorological methods due to the difficulty of performing these measurements in cold, remote regions. When these measurements are performed, they are usually collected only during the short summer growing season. We established eddy covariance flux towers in three representative Alaska tundra ecosystems (heath tundra, tussock tundra, and wet sedge tundra), and have collected CO2, water, and energy flux data continuously for over three years (September 2007–May 2011). In all ecosystems, peak CO2 uptake occurred during July, with accumulations of 51–95 g C/m2 during June–August. The timing of the switch from CO2 source to sink in the spring appears to be regulated by the number of growing degree days early in the season, indicating that warmer springs may promote increased net CO2 uptake. However, this increased uptake in the spring may be lost through warmer temperatures in the late growing season that promote respiration, if this respiration is not impeded by large amounts of precipitation or cooler temperatures. Net CO2 accumulation during the growing season was generally lost through respiration during the snow covered months of September–May, turning the ecosystems into net sources of CO2 over measurement period. The water balance from June to August at the three ecosystems was variable, with the most variability observed in the heath tundra, and the least in the tussock tundra. These findings underline the importance of collecting data over the full annual cycle and across multiple types of tundra ecosystems in order to come to a more complete understanding of CO2 and water fluxes in the Arctic.
  • Article
    ORCHIDEE-PEAT (revision 4596), a model for northern peatland CO2, water, and energy fluxes on daily to annual scales
    (Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union, 2018-02-05) Qiu, Chunjing ; Zhu, Dan ; Ciais, Philippe ; Guenet, Bertrand ; Krinner, Gerhard ; Peng, Shushi ; Aurela, Mika ; Bernhofer, Christian ; Brümmer, Christian ; Bret-Harte, M. Syndonia ; Chu, Housen ; Chen, Jiquan ; Desai, Ankur R. ; Dušek, Jiˇrí ; Euskirchen, Eugenie ; Fortuniak, Krzysztof ; Flanagan, Lawrence B. ; Friborg, Thomas ; Grygoruk, Mateusz ; Gogo, Sébastien ; Grünwald, Thomas ; Hansen, Birger U. ; Holl, David ; Humphreys, Elyn ; Hurkuck, Miriam ; Kiely, Gerard ; Klatt, Janina ; Kutzbach, Lars ; Largeron, Chloé ; Laggoun-Défarg, Fatima ; Lund, Magnus ; Lafleur, Peter M. ; Li, Xuefei ; Mammarella, Ivan ; Merbold, Lutz ; Nilsson, Mats B. ; Olejnik, Janusz ; Ottosson-Löfvenius, Mikaell ; Oechel, Walter ; Parmentier, Frans-Jan W. ; Peichl, Matthias ; Pirk, Norbert ; Peltola, Olli ; Pawlak, Włodzimierz ; Rasse, Daniel ; Rinne, Janne ; Shaver, Gaius R. ; Schmid, Hans Peter ; Sottocornola, Matteo ; Steinbrecher, Rainer ; Sachs, Torsten ; Urbaniak, Marek ; Zona, Donatella ; Ziemblinska, Klaudia
    Peatlands store substantial amounts of carbon and are vulnerable to climate change. We present a modified version of the Organising Carbon and Hydrology In Dynamic Ecosystems (ORCHIDEE) land surface model for simulating the hydrology, surface energy, and CO2 fluxes of peatlands on daily to annual timescales. The model includes a separate soil tile in each 0.5° grid cell, defined from a global peatland map and identified with peat-specific soil hydraulic properties. Runoff from non-peat vegetation within a grid cell containing a fraction of peat is routed to this peat soil tile, which maintains shallow water tables. The water table position separates oxic from anoxic decomposition. The model was evaluated against eddy-covariance (EC) observations from 30 northern peatland sites, with the maximum rate of carboxylation (Vcmax) being optimized at each site. Regarding short-term day-to-day variations, the model performance was good for gross primary production (GPP) (r2 =  0.76; Nash–Sutcliffe modeling efficiency, MEF  =  0.76) and ecosystem respiration (ER, r2 =  0.78, MEF  =  0.75), with lesser accuracy for latent heat fluxes (LE, r2 =  0.42, MEF  =  0.14) and and net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE, r2 =  0.38, MEF  =  0.26). Seasonal variations in GPP, ER, NEE, and energy fluxes on monthly scales showed moderate to high r2 values (0.57–0.86). For spatial across-site gradients of annual mean GPP, ER, NEE, and LE, r2 values of 0.93, 0.89, 0.27, and 0.71 were achieved, respectively. Water table (WT) variation was not well predicted (r2 < 0.1), likely due to the uncertain water input to the peat from surrounding areas. However, the poor performance of WT simulation did not greatly affect predictions of ER and NEE. We found a significant relationship between optimized Vcmax and latitude (temperature), which better reflects the spatial gradients of annual NEE than using an average Vcmax value.
  • Article
    Plant community responses to experimental warming across the tundra biome
    (National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 2006-01-20) Walker, Marilyn D. ; Wahren, C. Henrik ; Hollister, Robert D. ; Henry, Greg H. R. ; Ahlquist, Lorraine E. ; Alatalo, Juha M. ; Bret-Harte, M. Syndonia ; Calef, Monika P. ; Callaghan, Terry V. ; Carroll, Amy B. ; Epstein, Howard E. ; Jonsdottir, Ingibjorg S. ; Klein, Julia A. ; Magnusson, Borgbor ; Molau, Ulf ; Oberbauer, Steven F. ; Rewa, Steven P. ; Robinson, Clare H. ; Shaver, Gaius R. ; Suding, Katharine N. ; Thompson, Catharine C. ; Tolvanen, Anne ; Totland, Orjan ; Turner, P. Lee ; Tweedie, Craig E. ; Webber, Patrick J. ; Wookey, Philip A.
    Recent observations of changes in some tundra ecosystems appear to be responses to a warming climate. Several experimental studies have shown that tundra plants and ecosystems can respond strongly to environmental change, including warming; however, most studies were limited to a single location and were of short duration and based on a variety of experimental designs. In addition, comparisons among studies are difficult because a variety of techniques have been used to achieve experimental warming and different measurements have been used to assess responses. We used metaanalysis on plant community measurements from standardized warming experiments at 11 locations across the tundra biome involved in the International Tundra Experiment. The passive warming treatment increased plant-level air temperature by 1-3°C, which is in the range of predicted and observed warming for tundra regions. Responses were rapid and detected in whole plant communities after only two growing seasons. Overall, warming increased height and cover of deciduous shrubs and graminoids, decreased cover of mosses and lichens, and decreased species diversity and evenness. These results predict that warming will cause a decline in biodiversity across a wide variety of tundra, at least in the short term. They also provide rigorous experimental evidence that recently observed increases in shrub cover in many tundra regions are in response to climate warming. These changes have important implications for processes and interactions within tundra ecosystems and between tundra and the atmosphere.