The Response of Two Contrasting Limestone Grasslands to Simulated Climate Change

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Science  04 Aug 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5480, pp. 762-765
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5480.762

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Two different UK limestone grasslands were exposed to simulated climate change with the use of nonintrusive techniques to manipulate local climate over 5 years. Resistance to climate change, defined as the ability of a community to maintain its composition and biomass in response to environmental stress, could be explained by reference to the functional composition and successional status of the grasslands. The more fertile, early-successional grassland was much more responsive to climate change. Resistance could not be explained by the particular climates experienced by the two grasslands. Productive, disturbed landscapes created by modern human activity may prove more vulnerable to climate change than older, traditional landscapes.

  • * Present address: Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, Department of Agriculture, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Post Office Box 233, Reading RG6 6DW, UK.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: ken.thompson{at}

  • Present address: Buxton Climate Change Impacts Laboratory (BCCIL), Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.

  • § Present address: Horticulture Research International, Efford, Lymington, Hampshire SO41 0LX, UK.

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