CO2 and fire influence tropical ecosystem stability in response to climate change

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/618982
Title:
CO2 and fire influence tropical ecosystem stability in response to climate change
Author:
Shanahan, Timothy M.; Hughen, Konrad A.; McKay, Nicholas P.; Overpeck, Jonathan T.; Scholz, Christopher A.; Gosling, William D.; Miller, Charlotte S.; Peck, John A.; King, John W.; Heil, Clifford W.
Affiliation:
Univ Arizona, Inst Environm, ENR2 Bldg
Issue Date:
2016-07-18
Publisher:
NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP
Citation:
CO2 and fire influence tropical ecosystem stability in response to climate change 2016, 6:29587 Scientific Reports
Journal:
Scientific Reports
Rights:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Collection Information:
This item from the UA Faculty Publications collection is made available by the University of Arizona with support from the University of Arizona Libraries. If you have questions, please contact us at repository@u.library.arizona.edu.
Abstract:
Interactions between climate, fire and CO2 are believed to play a crucial role in controlling the distributions of tropical woodlands and savannas, but our understanding of these processes is limited by the paucity of data from undisturbed tropical ecosystems. Here we use a 28,000-year integrated record of vegetation, climate and fire from West Africa to examine the role of these interactions on tropical ecosystem stability. We find that increased aridity between 28-15 kyr B.P. led to the widespread expansion of tropical grasslands, but that frequent fires and low CO2 played a crucial role in stabilizing these ecosystems, even as humidity changed. This resulted in an unstable ecosystem state, which transitioned abruptly from grassland to woodlands as gradual changes in CO2 and fire shifted the balance in favor of woody plants. Since then, high atmospheric CO2 has stabilized tropical forests by promoting woody plant growth, despite increased aridity. Our results indicate that the interactions between climate, CO2 and fire can make tropical ecosystems more resilient to change, but that these systems are dynamically unstable and potentially susceptible to abrupt shifts between woodland and grassland dominated states in the future.
Note:
Open Access Journal
ISSN:
2045-2322
PubMed ID:
27427431
DOI:
10.1038/srep29587
Version:
Final published version
Sponsors:
NSF [EAR0601998, EAR0602355, AGS0402010, ATM0401908, ATM0214525, ATM0096232, AGS1243125]; Chevron Centennial Fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin awarded
Additional Links:
http://www.nature.com/articles/srep29587

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.contributor.authorShanahan, Timothy M.en
dc.contributor.authorHughen, Konrad A.en
dc.contributor.authorMcKay, Nicholas P.en
dc.contributor.authorOverpeck, Jonathan T.en
dc.contributor.authorScholz, Christopher A.en
dc.contributor.authorGosling, William D.en
dc.contributor.authorMiller, Charlotte S.en
dc.contributor.authorPeck, John A.en
dc.contributor.authorKing, John W.en
dc.contributor.authorHeil, Clifford W.en
dc.date.accessioned2016-08-27T00:58:49Z-
dc.date.available2016-08-27T00:58:49Z-
dc.date.issued2016-07-18-
dc.identifier.citationCO2 and fire influence tropical ecosystem stability in response to climate change 2016, 6:29587 Scientific Reportsen
dc.identifier.issn2045-2322-
dc.identifier.pmid27427431-
dc.identifier.doi10.1038/srep29587-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10150/618982-
dc.description.abstractInteractions between climate, fire and CO2 are believed to play a crucial role in controlling the distributions of tropical woodlands and savannas, but our understanding of these processes is limited by the paucity of data from undisturbed tropical ecosystems. Here we use a 28,000-year integrated record of vegetation, climate and fire from West Africa to examine the role of these interactions on tropical ecosystem stability. We find that increased aridity between 28-15 kyr B.P. led to the widespread expansion of tropical grasslands, but that frequent fires and low CO2 played a crucial role in stabilizing these ecosystems, even as humidity changed. This resulted in an unstable ecosystem state, which transitioned abruptly from grassland to woodlands as gradual changes in CO2 and fire shifted the balance in favor of woody plants. Since then, high atmospheric CO2 has stabilized tropical forests by promoting woody plant growth, despite increased aridity. Our results indicate that the interactions between climate, CO2 and fire can make tropical ecosystems more resilient to change, but that these systems are dynamically unstable and potentially susceptible to abrupt shifts between woodland and grassland dominated states in the future.en
dc.description.sponsorshipNSF [EAR0601998, EAR0602355, AGS0402010, ATM0401908, ATM0214525, ATM0096232, AGS1243125]; Chevron Centennial Fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin awardeden
dc.language.isoenen
dc.publisherNATURE PUBLISHING GROUPen
dc.relation.urlhttp://www.nature.com/articles/srep29587en
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/en
dc.titleCO2 and fire influence tropical ecosystem stability in response to climate changeen
dc.typeArticleen
dc.contributor.departmentUniv Arizona, Inst Environm, ENR2 Bldgen
dc.identifier.journalScientific Reportsen
dc.description.noteOpen Access Journalen
dc.description.collectioninformationThis item from the UA Faculty Publications collection is made available by the University of Arizona with support from the University of Arizona Libraries. If you have questions, please contact us at repository@u.library.arizona.edu.en
dc.eprint.versionFinal published versionen

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