Aspects of the interaction between vegetation and soil under global change

W. M. Post, J. Pastor, A. W. King, W. R. Emanuel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Responses of terrestrial ecosystems to a world undergoing a change in atmospheric CO2 concentration presents a formidable challenge to terrestrial ecosystem scientists. Strong relationships among climate, atmosphere, soils and biota at many different temporal and spatial scales make the understanding and prediction of changes in net ecosystem production (NEP) at a global scale difficult. Global C cycle models have implicitly attempted to account for some of this complexity by adapting lower pool sizes and smaller flux rates representing large regions and long temporal averages than values appropriate for a small area. However, it is becoming increasingly evident that terrestrial ecosystems may be experiencing a strong transient forcing as a result of increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 that will require a finer temporal and spatial representation of terrestrial systems than the parameters for current global C cycle models allow. To adequately represent terrestrial systems in the global C cycle it is necessary to explicitly model the response of terrestrial systems to primary environmental factors. While considerable progress has been made experimentally and conceptually in aspects of photosynthetic responses, and gross and net primary production, the application of this understanding to NEP at individual sites is not well developed. This is an essential step in determining effects of plant physiological responses on the global C cycle. We use a forest stand succession model to explore the effects of several possible plant responses to elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration. These simulations show that ecosystem C storage can be increased by increases in individual tree growth rate, reduced transpiration, or increases in fine root production commensurate with experimental observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-363
Number of pages19
JournalWater, Air, & Soil Pollution
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 1992


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