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Agronomy Journal Abstract - REVIEW & INTERPRETATION

Climate Impacts on Agriculture: Implications for Forage and Rangeland Production


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 103 No. 2, p. 371-381
    Received: July 9, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): jerry.hatfield@ars.usda.gov
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  1. R. C. Izaurraldea,
  2. A. M. Thomsona,
  3. J. A. Morganb,
  4. P. A. Fayc,
  5. H. W. Polleyc and
  6. J. L. Hatfield *d
  1. a Joint Global Change Research Institute (Pacific Northwest National Lab. and Univ. of Maryland), 5825 Univ. Research Ct., Suite 3500, College Park, MD 20740
    b USDA-ARS, Crops Research Lab., 1701 Center Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80526
    c USDA-ARS, Grassland Soil and Water Research Lab., 808 E. Blackland Rd., Temple, TX 76502
    d USDA-ARS, National Lab. for Agriculture and the Environment, 2110 University Blvd., Ames, IA 50011-3120


Projections of temperature and precipitation patterns across the United States during the next 50 yr anticipate a 1.5 to 2°C warming and a slight increase in precipitation as a result of global climate change. There have been relatively few studies of climate change effects on pasture and rangeland (grazingland) species compared to those on crop species, despite the economic and ecological importance of the former. Here we review the literature on responses of pastureland and rangeland species to rising atmospheric CO2 and climate change (temperature and precipitation) and discuss plant and management factors likely to influence pastureland and rangeland responses to change (e.g., community composition, plant competition, perennial growth habit, seasonal productivity, and management methods). Overall, the response of pastureland and rangeland species to increased [CO2] is consistent with the general responses of C3 and C4 vegetation, although exceptions exist. Both pastureland and rangeland species may experience accelerated metabolism and advanced development with rising temperature, often resulting in a longer growing season. However, soil resources will often constrain temperature effects. In general, it is expected that increases in [CO2] and precipitation will enhance rangeland net primary production (NPP) whereas increased air temperatures will either increase or decrease NPP. Much of the uncertainty in predicting how pastureland and rangeland species will respond to climate change is due to uncertainty in future projections of precipitation, both globally and regionally. This review reveals the need for comprehensive studies of climate change impacts on pastureland and rangeland ecosystems that include an assessment of the mediating effects of grazing regimes and mutualistic relationships (e.g., plant roots-nematodes; N-fixing organisms) as well as changes in water, carbon, and nutrient cycling.

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Copyright © 2011. American Society of AgronomyCopyright © 2011 by the American Society of Agronomy