Grassland Vegetation Changes and Nocturnal Global Warming

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Science  08 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5399, pp. 229-231
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5399.229

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Global minimum temperatures (T MIN) are increasing faster than maximum temperatures, but the ecological consequences of this are largely unexplored. Long-term data sets from the shortgrass steppe were used to identify correlations betweenT MIN and several vegetation variables. This ecosystem is potentially sensitive to increases inT MIN. Most notably, increased springT MIN was correlated with decreased net primary production by the dominant C4 grass (Bouteloua gracilis) and with increased abundance and production by exotic and native C3 forbs. Reductions in B. gracilismay make this system more vulnerable to invasion by exotic species and less tolerant of drought and grazing.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. Present address: School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA. E-mail: ralward1{at}

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