Warming and drought change trace element bioaccumulation patterns in a Mediterranean shrubland

J. Sardans, J. Peñuelas, M. Estiarte

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    Abstract

    A field experiment consisting of drought and warming manipulation was conducted in a Mediterranean shrubland dominated by the shrubs Erica multiflora and Globularia alypum. The aim was to investigate the effects of the climatic changes predicted by IPCC models for the coming decades on trace element concentration and accumulation in aboveground biomass, plant litter, and soil. Warming increased concentrations and aboveground accumulation of some trace elements related to plant root uptake, such as Al, As, Cr, Cu, and partially Pb. This effect was more general in E. multiflora than in G. alypum. The stronger effects were increases in Al leaf concentrations (42%) and aboveground accumulation (500 g ha-1) in E. multiflora, in As stem biomass accumulation (0.2 g ha-1) in E. multiflora, and in Cr leaf concentrations (51%) in G. alypum and stem aboveground accumulation in E. multiflora (1.1 g ha-1). These species-specific increases were related to greater retranslocation, photosynthetic capacity and growth in E. multiflora than in G. alypum. Warming decreased the concentrations of some trace elements in leaf litter, implying the existence of an increased leaf retranslocation. Drought increased As (40%) and Cd (55%) in E. multiflora stems, whereas it decreased Cu (50%) in leaves, Ni (28%) in stems and Pb (32%) in leaf litter of G. alypum. The increasing concentrations of some trace elements in E. multiflora and not in G. alypum were related to a greater growth reduction in E. multiflora than in G. alypum. Warming increased As soil solubility (67%) and decreased total soil As (21%). Those changes were related to a greater Fe mobilization in warming plot and to a greater plant capture. Drought increased Hg (350%) concentrations in soils but had no significant effects on trace element accumulation in aboveground biomass. The different response to warming and drought in the two dominant species implies uneven changes in the quality of the plant tissues that may have implications for herbivores. This may be specially important for the performance of the studied Mediterranean ecosystems under the warmer and drier conditions predicted by the next decades by the GCM and ecophysiological models. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)874-885
    JournalChemosphere
    Volume70
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008

    Keywords

    • Biomass concentrations
    • Climatic change
    • Heavy metals
    • Mediterranean shrubland
    • Soil content
    • Trace elements

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