Effects of intra-annual precipitation patterns on grassland productivity moderated by the dominant species phenology

Front Plant Sci. 2023 Apr 11;14:1142786. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2023.1142786. eCollection 2023.


Phenology and productivity are important functional indicators of grassland ecosystems. However, our understanding of how intra-annual precipitation patterns affect plant phenology and productivity in grasslands is still limited. Here, we conducted a two-year precipitation manipulation experiment to explore the responses of plant phenology and productivity to intra-annual precipitation patterns at the community and dominant species levels in a temperate grassland. We found that increased early growing season precipitation enhanced the above-ground biomass of the dominant rhizome grass, Leymus chinensis, by advancing its flowering date, while increased late growing season precipitation increased the above-ground biomass of the dominant bunchgrass, Stipa grandis, by delaying senescence. The complementary effects in phenology and biomass of the dominant species, L. chinensis and S. grandis, maintained stable dynamics of the community above-ground biomass under intra-annual precipitation pattern variations. Our results highlight the critical role that intra-annual precipitation and soil moisture patterns play in the phenology of temperate grasslands. By understanding the response of phenology to intra-annual precipitation patterns, we can more accurately predict the productivity of temperate grasslands under future climate change.

PMID:37113592 | PMC:PMC10126275 | DOI:10.3389/fpls.2023.1142786


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