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Multiple-scale negative impacts of warming on ecosystem carbon use efficiency across the Tibetan Plateau grasslands


Chen, Ning (2021), Multiple-scale negative impacts of warming on ecosystem carbon use efficiency across the Tibetan Plateau grasslands, Dryad, Dataset,


Aim: Ecosystem carbon use efficiency (CUEe) is a core parameter of ecosystem process models, but its relationships with climate are still uncertain, especially for ecosystems with harsh environments. High inconsistencies in climate impacts on the CUEe have been reported among various spatial scales. The goal of this study was to examine whether warming promotes or restricts the CUEe and whether the CUEe responds to a warming gradient in a linear or nonlinear manner.

Location: Tibetan Plateau.

Time period: 2000-2018.

Major taxa studied: Alpine grassland ecosystem.

Methods: We integrated multiple-source data of carbon fluxes and CUEe, including warming experiments at a site scale, eddy covariance observations at a landscape scale and synthesized warming experiments and ecosystem process models at a regional scale. Next, we deployed a statistical model to examine the warming impacts on the CUEe across scales; the effects of biotic and abiotic factors on the CUEe and its components were summarized based on the results of Standardized Major Axis Tests and Routines, structural equation modeling and nonlinear models.

Results: This study reported a suppressive warming impact on the CUEe, which followed a nonlinear curve with severe inhibition in the high-level warming treatment. With a warming threshold of 1.5-2.0 °C, CUEe response patterns transitioned from no change to a significant decrease. The restriction effects can be ascribed to the joint adverse and asymmetric effects of warming on CUEe components under multiple-level warming. Warming-modified relationships among CUEe components and the nonlinear effects of biotic and abiotic factors led to the nonlinear responses of CUEe to warming.

Main conclusions: This study revealed suppressive and nonlinear effects of warming on the CUEe, including especially dramatic CUEe decreases with high-level warming. These findings are critical for optimizing model parameters and improving predictions of the carbon sequestration capacity of alpine grasslands.