Persistent versus transient tree encroachment of temperate peat bogs: effects of climate warming and drought events

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43 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Peatlands store approximately 30% of global soil carbon, most in moss-dominated bogs. Future climatic changes, such as changes in precipitation patterns and warming, are expected to affect peat bog vegetation composition and thereby its long-term carbon sequestration capacity. Theoretical work suggests that an episode of rapid environmental change is more likely to trigger transitions to alternative ecosystem states than a gradual, but equally large, change in conditions. We used a dynamic vegetation model to explore the impacts of drought events and increased temperature on vegetation composition of temperate peat bogs. We analyzed the consequences of six patterns of summer drought events combined with five temperature scenarios to test whether an open peat bog dominated by moss (Sphagnum) could shift to a tree-dominated state. Unexpectedly, neither a gradual decrease in the amount of summer precipitation nor the occurrence of a number of extremely dry summers in a row could shift the moss-dominated peat bog permanently into a tree-dominated peat bog. The increase in tree biomass during drought events was unable to trigger positive feedbacks that keep the ecosystem in a tree-dominated state after a return to previous ‘normal’ rainfall conditions. In contrast, temperature increases from 1 °C onward already shifted peat bogs into tree-dominated ecosystems. In our simulations, drought events facilitated tree establishment, but temperature determined how much tree biomass could develop. Our results suggest that under current climatic conditions, peat bog vegetation is rather resilient to drought events, but very sensitive to temperature increases, indicating that future warming is likely to trigger persistent vegetation shifts. Keywords: alternative states, climate change, ecosystem model, extreme events, peatlands, pulse, rainfall, Sphagnum, temperature increase, vegetation shift
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2240-2250
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Volume19
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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Peat
Drought
peatland
warming
drought
climate
Ecosystems
vegetation
moss
Temperature
ecosystem
Rain
temperature
Biomass
Carbon
summer
effect
Chemical analysis
Climate change
rainfall

Keywords

  • raised bog
  • vegetation composition
  • plant-communities
  • ombrotrophic bogs
  • vascular plants
  • boreal mire
  • scots pine
  • sphagnum
  • ecosystems
  • responses

Cite this

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title = "Persistent versus transient tree encroachment of temperate peat bogs: effects of climate warming and drought events",
abstract = "Peatlands store approximately 30{\%} of global soil carbon, most in moss-dominated bogs. Future climatic changes, such as changes in precipitation patterns and warming, are expected to affect peat bog vegetation composition and thereby its long-term carbon sequestration capacity. Theoretical work suggests that an episode of rapid environmental change is more likely to trigger transitions to alternative ecosystem states than a gradual, but equally large, change in conditions. We used a dynamic vegetation model to explore the impacts of drought events and increased temperature on vegetation composition of temperate peat bogs. We analyzed the consequences of six patterns of summer drought events combined with five temperature scenarios to test whether an open peat bog dominated by moss (Sphagnum) could shift to a tree-dominated state. Unexpectedly, neither a gradual decrease in the amount of summer precipitation nor the occurrence of a number of extremely dry summers in a row could shift the moss-dominated peat bog permanently into a tree-dominated peat bog. The increase in tree biomass during drought events was unable to trigger positive feedbacks that keep the ecosystem in a tree-dominated state after a return to previous ‘normal’ rainfall conditions. In contrast, temperature increases from 1 °C onward already shifted peat bogs into tree-dominated ecosystems. In our simulations, drought events facilitated tree establishment, but temperature determined how much tree biomass could develop. Our results suggest that under current climatic conditions, peat bog vegetation is rather resilient to drought events, but very sensitive to temperature increases, indicating that future warming is likely to trigger persistent vegetation shifts. Keywords: alternative states, climate change, ecosystem model, extreme events, peatlands, pulse, rainfall, Sphagnum, temperature increase, vegetation shift",
keywords = "raised bog, vegetation composition, plant-communities, ombrotrophic bogs, vascular plants, boreal mire, scots pine, sphagnum, ecosystems, responses",
author = "M.M.P.D. Heijmans and Y.A.M. Knaap and M. Holmgren and J. Limpens",
year = "2013",
doi = "10.1111/gcb.12202",
language = "English",
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pages = "2240--2250",
journal = "Global Change Biology",
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Persistent versus transient tree encroachment of temperate peat bogs: effects of climate warming and drought events. / Heijmans, M.M.P.D.; Knaap, Y.A.M.; Holmgren, M.; Limpens, J.

In: Global Change Biology, Vol. 19, No. 7, 2013, p. 2240-2250.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Persistent versus transient tree encroachment of temperate peat bogs: effects of climate warming and drought events

AU - Heijmans, M.M.P.D.

AU - Knaap, Y.A.M.

AU - Holmgren, M.

AU - Limpens, J.

PY - 2013

Y1 - 2013

N2 - Peatlands store approximately 30% of global soil carbon, most in moss-dominated bogs. Future climatic changes, such as changes in precipitation patterns and warming, are expected to affect peat bog vegetation composition and thereby its long-term carbon sequestration capacity. Theoretical work suggests that an episode of rapid environmental change is more likely to trigger transitions to alternative ecosystem states than a gradual, but equally large, change in conditions. We used a dynamic vegetation model to explore the impacts of drought events and increased temperature on vegetation composition of temperate peat bogs. We analyzed the consequences of six patterns of summer drought events combined with five temperature scenarios to test whether an open peat bog dominated by moss (Sphagnum) could shift to a tree-dominated state. Unexpectedly, neither a gradual decrease in the amount of summer precipitation nor the occurrence of a number of extremely dry summers in a row could shift the moss-dominated peat bog permanently into a tree-dominated peat bog. The increase in tree biomass during drought events was unable to trigger positive feedbacks that keep the ecosystem in a tree-dominated state after a return to previous ‘normal’ rainfall conditions. In contrast, temperature increases from 1 °C onward already shifted peat bogs into tree-dominated ecosystems. In our simulations, drought events facilitated tree establishment, but temperature determined how much tree biomass could develop. Our results suggest that under current climatic conditions, peat bog vegetation is rather resilient to drought events, but very sensitive to temperature increases, indicating that future warming is likely to trigger persistent vegetation shifts. Keywords: alternative states, climate change, ecosystem model, extreme events, peatlands, pulse, rainfall, Sphagnum, temperature increase, vegetation shift

AB - Peatlands store approximately 30% of global soil carbon, most in moss-dominated bogs. Future climatic changes, such as changes in precipitation patterns and warming, are expected to affect peat bog vegetation composition and thereby its long-term carbon sequestration capacity. Theoretical work suggests that an episode of rapid environmental change is more likely to trigger transitions to alternative ecosystem states than a gradual, but equally large, change in conditions. We used a dynamic vegetation model to explore the impacts of drought events and increased temperature on vegetation composition of temperate peat bogs. We analyzed the consequences of six patterns of summer drought events combined with five temperature scenarios to test whether an open peat bog dominated by moss (Sphagnum) could shift to a tree-dominated state. Unexpectedly, neither a gradual decrease in the amount of summer precipitation nor the occurrence of a number of extremely dry summers in a row could shift the moss-dominated peat bog permanently into a tree-dominated peat bog. The increase in tree biomass during drought events was unable to trigger positive feedbacks that keep the ecosystem in a tree-dominated state after a return to previous ‘normal’ rainfall conditions. In contrast, temperature increases from 1 °C onward already shifted peat bogs into tree-dominated ecosystems. In our simulations, drought events facilitated tree establishment, but temperature determined how much tree biomass could develop. Our results suggest that under current climatic conditions, peat bog vegetation is rather resilient to drought events, but very sensitive to temperature increases, indicating that future warming is likely to trigger persistent vegetation shifts. Keywords: alternative states, climate change, ecosystem model, extreme events, peatlands, pulse, rainfall, Sphagnum, temperature increase, vegetation shift

KW - raised bog

KW - vegetation composition

KW - plant-communities

KW - ombrotrophic bogs

KW - vascular plants

KW - boreal mire

KW - scots pine

KW - sphagnum

KW - ecosystems

KW - responses

U2 - 10.1111/gcb.12202

DO - 10.1111/gcb.12202

M3 - Article

VL - 19

SP - 2240

EP - 2250

JO - Global Change Biology

JF - Global Change Biology

SN - 1354-1013

IS - 7

ER -