Hierarchical Responses of Plant-Soil Interactions to Climate Change

by Makari Krause

Ecosystems provide a multitude of services to humans, but one that will continue to grow in importance as climate change progresses is terrestrial carbon storage. In their paper, Bardgett et al. (2013) develop a framework for understanding the multiple mechanisms through which climate indirectly impacts the carbon cycle. These mechanisms are broken into three categories: individual responses, community reordering, and species immigration and loss. Individual responses only include changes to individual organisms without any alteration of the larger communities in which they live. While the individual responses occur in the short term, in the long term (years to decades) observable changes will occur within entire communities. This community reordering involves changes in the abundance of certain species but not the complete extinction of species or the invasion of new species. If the time period is extended even further there will be shifts in species resulting in the invasion of new species and the extinction of old ones. Each of these responses alters interactions between soil and plant communities and has associated implications for the global carbon cycle. Continue reading