Model responses to CO(2) and warming are underestimated without explicit representation of Arctic small-mammal grazing
Rastetter, Edward B.
Griffin, Kevin L.
Rowe, Rebecca J.
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KeywordArctic tundra; Biogeochemistry; Carbon cycling; Carbon-nitrogen ecosystem model; Climate change; Nitrogen cycling; Population cycles; Small-mammal herbivores
We use a simple model of coupled carbon and nitrogen cycles in terrestrial ecosystems to examine how “explicitly representing grazers” vs. “having grazer effects implicitly aggregated in with other biogeochemical processes in the model” alters predicted responses to elevated carbon dioxide and warming. The aggregated approach can affect model predictions because grazer-mediated processes can respond differently to changes in climate compared with the processes with which they are typically aggregated. We use small-mammal grazers in a tundra as an example and find that the typical three-to-four-year cycling frequency is too fast for the effects of cycle peaks and troughs to be fully manifested in the ecosystem biogeochemistry. We conclude that implicitly aggregating the effects of small-mammal grazers with other processes results in an underestimation of ecosystem response to climate change, relative to estimations in which the grazer effects are explicitly represented. The magnitude of this underestimation increases with grazer density. We therefore recommend that grazing effects be incorporated explicitly when applying models of ecosystem response to global change.
© The Author(s), 2021. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Rastetter, E. B., Griffin, K. L., Rowe, R. J., Gough, L., McLaren, J. R., & Boelman, N. T. Model responses to CO(2) and warming are underestimated without explicit representation of Arctic small-mammal grazing. Ecological Applications, (2021): e02478, https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.2478.
Suggested CitationRastetter, E. B., Griffin, K. L., Rowe, R. J., Gough, L., McLaren, J. R., & Boelman, N. T. (2021). Model responses to CO(2) and warming are underestimated without explicit representation of Arctic small-mammal grazing. Ecological Applications, e02478.
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