Resilience of ecosystem service delivery in grasslands in response to single and compound extreme weather events

Dodd, Rosalind J.; Chadwick, David R.; Hill, Paul W.; Hayes, Felicity; Sánchez-Rodríguez, Antonio R.; Gwynn-Jones, Dylan; Smart, Simon M.; Jones, Davey L.. 2023 Resilience of ecosystem service delivery in grasslands in response to single and compound extreme weather events. Science of The Total Environment, 861, 160660. 14, pp.

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Extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and magnitude with profound effects on ecosystem functioning. Further, there is now a greater likelihood that multiple extreme events are occurring within a single year. Here we investigated the effect of a single drought, flood or compound (flood + drought) extreme event on temperate grassland ecosystem processes in a field experiment. To assess system resistance and resilience, we studied changes in a wide range of above- and below-ground indicators (plant diversity and productivity, greenhouse gas emissions, soil chemical, physical and biological metrics) during the 8 week stress events and then for 2 years post-stress. We hypothesized that agricultural grasslands would have different degrees of resistance and resilience to flood and drought stress. We also investigated two alternative hypotheses that the combined flood + drought treatment would either, (A) promote ecosystem resilience through more rapid recovery of soil moisture conditions or (B) exacerbate the impact of the single flood or drought event. Our results showed that flooding had a much greater effect than drought on ecosystem processes and that the grassland was more resistant and resilient to drought than to flood. The immediate impact of flooding on all indicators was negative, especially for those related to production, and climate and water regulation. Flooding stress caused pronounced and persistent shifts in soil microbial and plant communities with large implications for nutrient cycling and long-term ecosystem function. The compound flood + drought treatment failed to show a more severe impact than the single extreme events. Rather, there was an indication of quicker recovery of soil and microbial parameters suggesting greater resilience in line with hypothesis (A). This study clearly reveals that contrasting extreme weather events differentially affect grassland ecosystem function but that concurrent events of a contrasting nature may promote ecosystem resilience to future stress.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pollution (Science Area 2017-)
Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Full text of accepted version available via link in Related URLs.
Additional Keywords: climate change, soil quality, drought, flooding, greenhouse gas emissions, microbial community
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Agriculture and Soil Science
Related URLs:
Date made live: 07 Feb 2024 10:37 +0 (UTC)

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