ClimGrass: Grassland carbon dynamics in a changing climate 

Funded by: Austrian Science Fund (FWF P28756-B22), 2016-2020


Climate projections suggest that in the coming decades rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations will further accelerate climate warming, which will increase the occurrence of extreme climatic events such as severe droughts. To date, the interactive effects of these three major global change drivers have rarely been assessed in real-world ecosystems. The ClimGrass experiment investigated the individual and combined effects of multiple levels of warming and elevated CO2 on ecosystem carbon cycling in managed C3 grassland, which is a widespread and highly relevant ecosystem type in many regions of Europe. Furthermore, the project explored how the effects of severe drought on carbon dynamics are altered in a future warmer climate with elevated CO2. Overall, the findings from the ClimGrass project suggest that the effects of warming, elevated CO2 and drought on grassland carbon cycling are highly non-linear and interactive, and that, compared to current climatic conditions, in a future warmer climate grassland carbon dynamics are more severely affected during drought but recovery is faster.

ClimGrass Team (University of Innsbruck)

Michael Bahn (Project PI)

David Reinthaler (PhD student)

Kathiravan Meeran (PhD student)

Johannes Ingrisch (Post-Doc)

Claudia Gstir (MSc-student)

Martina Zweibrot (Bachelor student)

Student helpers: Lena Müller, Lisa Geres


Technical design and support:

Mario Deutschmann

Roland Hasibeder 

Herbert Wachter

Main Project Partners

Alberto Canarini, Andreas Richter, Wolfgang Wanek (University of Vienna)

Markus Herndl, Erich Pötsch, Andreas Schaumberger (AREC Raumberg Gumpenstein)

List of publications emerging from / associated with the ClimGrass project

Alvarez G., Shahzad T., Andanson L., Bahn M., Wallenstein M.D., Fontaine S. (2018) Catalytic power of enzymes decreases with temperature: New insights for understanding soil C cycling and microbial ecology under warming. Global Change Biology 24 (9): 4238-4250, doi: 10.1111/gcb.14281.

Bahn M., Ingrisch J. (2018) Accounting for Complexity in Resilience Comparisons: A Reply to Yeung and Richardson, and Further Considerations. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 33(9): 649-651.

Canarini A., Kaiser C., Merchant A., Richter A., Wanek W. (2019). Root Exudation of Primary Metabolites: Mechanisms and Their Roles in Plant Responses to Environmental Stimuli. Frontiers in Plant Science, 10, 157.

Canarini, A., Wanek, W., Watzka, M., Sandén T., Spiegel H., Šantrůček J., Schnecker J. (2020) Quantifying microbial growth and carbon use efficiency in dry soil environments via 18O water vapor equilibration. Global Change Biology,

De Boeck H., Bloor J., Aerts R., Bahn M., Beier C., Emmett B., Estiarte M., Grünzweig J., Halbritter A., Holub P., Jentsch A., Klem K., Kreyling J., Kroel-Dulay G., Milcu A., Sigurdsson B., Smith M., Larsen K. Sternberg M., Vandvik V., Wohlgemuth T., Nijs I., Knapp A. (2020) Understanding ecosystems of the future will require more than realistic climate change experiments – a response to Korell et al. In: Global Change Biology 26(2), e6-e7, doi.10.1111/gcb.14854.

Hartmann H., Bahn M., Carbone M., Richardson A. (2020) Plant carbon allocation in a changing world – challenges and progress. Introduction to a virtual issue on carbon allocation. New Phytologist 227: 981-988. doi: 10.1111/nph.16757

Ingrisch J., Bahn M. (2018) Towards a comparable quantification of resilience. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 33(4): 251-259.

Kreyling J., Schweiger A. H., Bahn M., Ineson P., Migliavacca M., Morel‐Journel T., Christiansen J. R., Schtickzelle N., Steenberg Larsen K. (2018) To replicate, or not to replicate–that is the question: how to tackle nonlinear responses in ecological experiments. Ecology Letters 21(11): 1629-1638.

Piepho H.P., Herndl M., Pötsch E.M., Bahn M. (2017) Designing an experiment with quantitative treatment factors to study the effects of climate change. Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science 203: 584-592.

Roy J., Picon-Cochard C., Augusti A., Benot M-L., Thiery L., Darsonville O., Landais D., Piel C., Defossez M., Devidal S., Escape C., Ravel R., Fromin N., Volaire F., Milcu A., Bahn M., Soussana J-F. (2016) Elevated CO2 maintains grassland net carbon uptake under a future heat and drought extreme. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113: 6224 - 6229.

Séneca J., Pjevac P., Canarini A., Zioutis C., Herbold C., Prommer J., Wanek W., Bahn M., Pötsch E., Wagner M., Richter A. The effects of climate change on inorganic nitrogen cycling communities in grasslands. ISME Journal (in press).

Thonicke K, Bahn M., Lavorel S., Bardgett R.D., Erb K., Giamberini M., Reichstein M., Vollan B., Rammig A. (2020) Advancing the understanding of adaptive capacity of social‐ecological systems to absorb climate extremes. Earths Future 8/2; e2019EF001221.

Vicca S., Stocker B., Reed S., Wieder W. R., Bahn M., Fay P., Janssens I., Lambers H., Peñuelas J.; Piao S., Rebel K., Sardans J., Sigurdsson B., Van Sundert K., Wang Y.-P., Zaehle S., Ciais P. (2018) Using research networks to create the comprehensive datasets needed to assess nutrient availability as a key determinant of terrestrial carbon cycling. Environmental Research Letters 13/12, No. 125006.


>  Research Group Functional Ecology

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