IGN 9-2 - Does an understanding of ecosystems responses to rainfall pulses improve predictions of responses of drylands to climate change?

Thursday, August 11, 2016
316, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center
Osvaldo E. Sala, School of Life Sciences and School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, Laureano A. Gherardi, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, Debra Peters, Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research Project, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Las Cruces, NM and Lara G. Reichmann, Grassland, Soil & Water Research Laboratory, USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Temple, TX
Drylands will experience more intense and frequent droughts and floods. Ten-year field experiments manipulating the amount and variability of precipitation suggest that we cannot predict responses of drylands to climate change based on pulse experimentation. Long-term drought experiments showed no effects on total productivity until the third year. Eight years were necessary to observe a collapse of grasses and the unexpected thriving of shrubs. The ultimate response of drylands to climate change depends on the interaction of sustained changes and rare phenomena, such as El Niño, that have the potential to tip systems into a different domain.