Impact of Altered Precipitation Distribution and Warming on Tree and Grass Life Forms in Oak Savanna

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1 Impact of Altered Precipitation Distribution and Warming on Tree and rass Life Forms in ak Savanna David D. Briske Rangeland Ecology & Management Texas A&M University Mark. Tjoelker Department of Forest Science Texas A&M University Photographer: Kathleen Phillips Astrid Volder Department of Forest Science Texas A&M University Project verview Rationale Infrastructure Driver simulation Experimental results Conclusions Future research direction 1

2 Rationale / Approach Mechanistically evaluate leaf and root trait responses to warming and rainfall redistribution, complementing existing community level el investigations. Establish a physiological basis for the responses of three contrasting growth forms (C 4 grass, C 3 deciduous tree, C 3 evergreen tree) to these global change drivers. Explore the potential for warming and rainfall redistribution to modify competition between dominant growth forms of southern oak savanna using mixed species plots. Experimental Design Factorial combination of two rainfall patterns (long term mean / redistributed) and two temperature treatments (ambient / continuous warming (1 W m -2 )). Each precipitation treatment is replicated in four rainfall exclusion shelters (eight shelters total). Infrared warming applied as a nested treatment to half of the species plots within each shelter (2 warming treatments x 5 species combinations) Treatments initiated March 24, 1 yr after the plants were established. 2

3 Treatment key: Precipitation Control Water tanks Redistributed Warming Unheated Heated Species Mixtures Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) Eastern redcedar (uniperus virginiana) Post oak (Quercus stellata) Eastern redcedar- Little bluestem Post oak- Little bluestem Rainfall Exclusion Shelter (9 x 18 m) North Species Plot Design Little bluestem Post oak Eastern redcedar rass_oak mixture 2 cm rass_redcedar mixture 13 tree 2 m 4 cm 12 grass 25 total 3

4 Simulated Rainfall Regimes I. Long-term mean (5 year) Simulated from event size and distribution of months that approached mean longterm monthly precipitation. 12 II. Redistribution 1 Reduce May September 8 precipitation by 4% and 6 redistribute this amount to 4 spring (March-April) and autumn (ctober-november) 2 Rainfall (mm) 5 year mean redistribution Spring increase Summer decrease Autumn increase jan feb mar apr may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec Month Total annual precipitation (118 mm) and the number and frequency of events are identical between the two rainfall regimes. Dry Phase Effects on Soil Moisture Vo lumetric soil moisture conten (%) Mar-4 May-4 Long term mean Redistribution ul-4 Sep-4 Nov-4 an-5 Mar-5 May-5 Redistributed plots receive 5% more water Redistributed plots receive 4% less water 4

5 AV2 Soil Warming at 3cm Depth 2 Soil temperature increase due to 3 cm Dry Summer Wet Spring Temperature increase ( o C) 1-1 Long term mean precipitation Redistributed precipitation Mar-4 May-4 ul-4 Sep-4 Nov-4 an-5 Mar-5 May-5 Warming Reduces Soil Water Content Effect of warming on soil moisture Absolute change in moisture conte ent (%) Mar-4 May-4 ul-4 Sep-4 Nov-4 an-5 Mar-5 May-5 5

6 Slide 9 AV2 This new slide shows 5-day averages to smooth out some of the 'peaky-ness' of the earlier slide and to highlight the summer and spring effects. I have no good explanation for what is happening in the last 5 points... Astrid Volder, 6/7/25

7 AV3 Mechanisms Post oak Soil water acquisition mediates responses to warming and rainfall redistribution in addition to their direct effects on phenology and physiology. Eastern redcedar The growth forms least able to track and acclimate to these global change drivers will show the greatest negative effects on growth, function and competitive ability. Little bluestem 6

8 Slide 12 AV3 I inserted this slide to try to glue the various datslides together somewhat. Repeat the storyline and the thoughts behind the coming slides. What do you think? Astrid Volder, 6/7/25

9 Data collection: rowth metrics as exchange Water relations Phenology Minirhizotron Root cores Soil water content Environmental Plant Water Stress Does the C 4 grass exhibit reduced drought stress with intensified ifi summer drought compared to the C 3 trees? Do all species recover equally after summer drought is temporarily relieved and does this response vary with precipitation treatment? 7

10 Plant Water Potentials Less water stress Waterpotential (MPa) Control rass Redist rass Control uniper Redist uniper Control ak Redist ak -4 May-4 Aug-4 Nov-4 Feb-5 May-5 More water stress Drought Recovery -1. Waterpotential (MPa) / 22 mm precip Sep 17-Sep 19-Sep 21-Sep Control rass Redist rass Control uniper Redist uniper Control ak Redist ak Soil water 12.7 / 7.6% Soil water 19.4 / 11.7% 8

11 Net gas exchange Are there season x driver interactions, e.g. does winter warming have a larger effect than summer warming? Are there competitive interactions between the species in terms of net gas exchange, and are these consistent through time? AV4 Warming and as Exchange Net Photosynthesis (µm mol m -2 s -1 ) 3 Little Bluestem No warming Warming Net Photosynthesis (µm mol m -2 s -1 ) 16 Eastern Redcedar P warming = May-4 ul-4 Sep-4 Nov-4 an-5 Mar-5 May-5 4 May-4 ul-4 Sep-4 Nov-4 an-5 Mar-5 May-5 Net Photosynthesis (µmol m -2 s -1 ) 16 Post ak May-4 ul-4 Sep-4 Nov-4 an-5 Mar-5 May-5 9

12 Slide 18 AV4 Note that we do have main driver effects (precipitation redistribution) throughout the summer on both gas exchange (for oak) and waterpotential (for all). This is the only warming effect though. Astrid Volder, 6/7/25

13 Tree-rass Competition 1 ) Net Photosynthesis (µmol m -2 s Post oak Eastern redcedar Monoculture Mixture w/ grass May-4 Aug-4 Nov-4 Feb-5 May-5 Conclusions Treatments effectively simulated the global change drivers e.g., soil water was reduced 3% in summer and increased 3% in spring-autumn; top soil temperature increased by.6 o C. Ψ mid-day was most negative for oak and least negative for the grass. rass presence increased water stress for both woody species in summer, but woody plants did not magnify water stress in the grass. Intensified summer drought increased water stress (more negative water-potential) for the C 4 grass and juniper, but less so for the oak. In spite of increased water stress, A area was unaffected in both grass and juniper, but decreased in oak. 1

14 Conclusions In spite of reduced water stress after a summer rainfall event, all growth forms were relatively unresponsive to summer rainfall in terms of A area. These data demonstrate that interactive effects of season, drivers and species composition will affect the response of southern oak savanna to climate change, rather than direct effects of the global change drivers per se. Future Direction ur goal is to continue the current experiment to: Evaluate cumulative driver effects as plants increase in size and competitive ability. Initiate investigation of driver effects on ecosystem processes e.g., decomposition, N mineralization and soil respiration. Explore potential feedback processes between plants and their environment e.g., litter composition and quality 11

15 Soil Respiration Is soil respiration affected by species composition? Do warming and precipitation treatment affect soil respiration and are these responses affected by species composition? Soil Respiration 5 Little Bluestem P precip x warming =.43 5 Eastern redcedar P precip x warming = Respiration (µmol C C 2 s ) Respiration (µmol C 2 s ) Long term mean Redistribution Long term mean Redistribution Precipitation Treatment Precipitation Treatment P mixture <.1-1 Respiration (µmol C 2 s ) Post ak P precip x warming =.457 no warming warming P mixture x precip x warming =.44 Soil respiration in plots with C 4 grass responds opposite to warming and precipitation than in plots with tree monocultures Long term mean Redistribution Precipitation Treatment 12

16 Synergistic Activities Student training Undergraduate (7) raduate ana Popescu (soil respiration) Daniel Chmura (canopy processes) Leveraged funding through Texas A&M University Technician salary support ($15, per year) Equipment purchases ($16,5) Electricity it costs ($14, per year) News coverage Earth, sky tapped in unique global climate change study (Agriculture Program News Release, May 11, 24). Texas A&M University Lifescapes Vol. 4(3), Fall 24. Publications & Abstracts Atkin K, M Tjoelker. 23. Thermal acclimation and the dynamic response of plant respiration to temperature. Trends in Plant Science 8, Briske DD, M Tjoelker, A Volder. Experimental warming and rainfall redistribution in southern oak savanna: infrastructure, design and plant growth responses. Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, Montreal, Canada, August 7-12, 25 (poster & abstract). Tjoelker M, A Volder, DD Briske. Experimental warming and altered rainfall distribution in southern oak savanna: leaf-level gas exchange. Meeting of the Ecological l Society of famerica, Montreal, Canada, August 7-12, 25 (poster & abstract). Volder, A, M Tjoelker, DD Briske. Experimental warming and altered rainfall distribution in southern oak savanna: plant-soil water relations. Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, Montreal, Canada, August 7-12, 25 (poster & abstract). 13

17 Acknowledgements This research was supported by the ffice of Science (BER), US Department of Energy, through the South Central Regional Center of the National Institute for lobal Environmental Change under Cooperative Agreement No. DE-FC3-9ER611. Precipitation Regime, Mixture, Season and ak RR ak height RR.6 Monoculture - 5 yr mean Mixture - 5 yr mean Monoculture - Redistributed.5 Mixture - Redistributed mm mm -1 day summer 4 spring 5 14

18 rass Tiller Density ller density (tillers cm -2 ) Ti Long term mean precipitation Redistributed precipitation p P precipitation =.6.5 Summer drought Apr-4 ul-4 ct-4 an-5 Apr-5 Event Size and Frequency 1 (mm) Cumulative Precipitation from March Year 1 Year 2 1 Long term mean 1 Redistributed pattern Mar-4 May-4 ul-4 Sep-4 Nov-4 an-5 Mar-5 May

19 ak Canopy Cover (%) Post ak Savanna 16

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