News of the WeekEcology

How Rain Pulses Drive Biome Growth

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Science  19 Jan 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5503, pp. 413-414
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5503.413A

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Most ecologists trying to picture how climate change will remold the world's ecosystems have focused on temperature and haven't factored in the dramatic changes in storm frequency also predicted in a greenhouse world. Now, on page 481, researchers describe the first study to look at how swings in precipitation alter landscapes across an entire continent. This new research finds that some ecosystems respond much more strongly than others to pulses in rainfall, which can spur surprisingly dramatic bursts in plant growth.