Implications of Increasing Carbon Dioxide and Climate Change for Plant Communities and Competition in Natural and Managed Ecosystems
- David T. Patterson and
- Elizabeth P. Flint
Future increases in the CO2 concentration of the Earth's atmosphere will directly affect the physiological processes and growth of plants. Indirect climatic effects, including global warming and changes in precipitation patterns and the frequency of weather extremes, may have greater impact than direct effects of CO2 on physiological processes. Carbon dioxide enrichment up to twice ambient levels or more generally increases plant growth, although the magnitude of growth stimulation varies greatly with species, photosynthetic pathway, growth stage, and water and nutrient status. In both natural and managed ecosystems, differential growth responses to both CO2 concentration and climatic change will affect future competitive ability and fitness of plants. The relative importance of various weed species in agroecosystems may change, but selection of adapted crop varieties and management methods may minimize negative impacts. In natural ecosystems, species extinctions probably will increase, because migration and adaptation through natural selection may be too slow to accommodate the rapid climatic changes involved. Weedy species with broad ecological amplitudes are likely to prosper at the expense of endemic species or those already in marginal habitats.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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