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Experimental warming outside the growing season and exclusion of grazing has a mild effect on upland grassland plant communities in the short term

Roth, Nina; Baxter, Robert; Furness, Martin; Kimberley, Adam; Cousins, Sara A. O.

Experimental warming outside the growing season and exclusion of grazing has a mild effect on upland grassland plant communities in the short term Thumbnail


Authors

Nina Roth

Martin Furness

Adam Kimberley

Sara A. O. Cousins



Abstract

Background
Winters are expected to warm more than summers in central and northern Europe, with largely unknown effects on grassland plant communities.

Aims
By studying the interactions between winter warming and summer grazing, we aimed to disentangle their effects and give recommendations for future grassland management.

Methods
Our study area Upper Teesdale, England has winter temperatures close to 0°C and a well-studied vegetation, known for its arctic-alpine species growing at their climatic warm range limits. We set up a winter warming experiment using open top chambers (ca. +0.5°C) from mid-September until mid-May 2019 to 2022 and excluded sheep grazing during summer in a fully factorial design.

Results
Graminoid biomass increased, and bryophyte biomass decreased with winter warming. There was little to no evidence that winter warming affected any of the other plant response variables we measured, neither did grazing nor the interaction between winter warming and grazing.

Conclusions
Our experiment was relatively short in duration and treatments were realistic in magnitude, therefore the plant communities responded only slightly. Nevertheless, our data suggest a change towards more dominant vascular species and less bryophytes with winter warming, which might lead to lasting changes in the plant communities in the longer-term if not buffered by suitable grazing management.

Citation

Roth, N., Baxter, R., Furness, M., Kimberley, A., & Cousins, S. A. O. (2023). Experimental warming outside the growing season and exclusion of grazing has a mild effect on upland grassland plant communities in the short term. Plant Ecology and Diversity, https://doi.org/10.1080/17550874.2023.2286229

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 17, 2023
Online Publication Date Dec 5, 2023
Publication Date Dec 5, 2023
Deposit Date Dec 18, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 29, 2024
Journal Plant Ecology & Diversity
Print ISSN 1755-0874
Electronic ISSN 1755-1668
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/17550874.2023.2286229
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/2047452

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