Effects of experimental warming and drought on biomass accumulation in a Mediterranean shrubland

Patricia Prieto, Josep Peñuelas, Joan Llusià, Dolores Asensio, Marc Estiarte

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    We studied the effects of experimental warming and drought on the plant biomass of a Mediterranean shrubland. We monitored growth at plant level and biomass accumulation at stand level. The experimentation period stretched over 7 years (1999-2005) and we focused on the two dominant shrub species, Erica multiflora L. and Globularia alypum L. and the tree species Pinus halepensis L. The warming treatment increased shoot elongation in E. multiflora, and the drought treatment reduced shoot elongation in G. alypum. The elongation of P. halepensis remained unaffected under both treatments. The balance between the patterns observed in biomass accumulation for the three studied species in the drought plots (reduction in E. multiflora and P. halepensis and increase in G. alypum) resulted in a trend to reduce 33% the biomass of the drought treatment plots with respect to the untreated plots, which almost doubled their biomass from 1998 to 2005. The results also suggest that under drier conditions larger accumulation of dead biomass may occur at stand level, which combined with higher temperatures, may thus increase fire risk in the Mediterranean area. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)179-191
    JournalPlant Ecology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2009


    • Biomass accumulation
    • Drought
    • Elongation
    • Erica multiflora
    • Global warming
    • Globularia alypum
    • Mediterranean shrubland
    • Pinus halepensis


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