Special Issue "Effects of Climate Change on Grassland Biodiversity and Productivity"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Grassland and Pasture Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Gianni Bellocchi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRAE), Université Clermont Auvergne (UCA), VetAgro Sup, UREP, 63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France
Interests: agricultural and environmental climatology; biogeochemical fluxes; hydro-meteorology
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Catherine Picon-Cochard
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRAE), Université Clermont Auvergne (UCA), VetAgro Sup, UREP, 63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France
Interests: impacts of climate change on grassland; grass recovery after extreme weather; root functional traits; functional ecology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The challenges that grasslands are facing today imply that aspects related to biodiversity cannot be ignored. The number and identity of plant species, their evenness within the community, their functional traits, and the manifold interactions between the plants and their environment affect the relationships between grassland productivity and biodiversity. However, data are still scarce on how the impact of climate change on the productivity of grasslands may depend on their biodiversity. This Special Issue places a major emphasis on the productivity–biodiversity interplay as a dynamic concept. We call for contributions that explore how (i) changes in weather variables (with increasing levels of atmospheric ([CO2]) affect productivity–biodiversity relationships; and (ii) changes in carbon, nutrient and water pools (and their spatial heterogeneity) explain such relationships. Potential contributors are encouraged to illustrate the influence of legumes and other functional groups on soil carbon storage, and interpret them through the role played by grazing and fertilization gradients on productivity and biodiversity. Contributions should also aim to bridge issues of management and new technologies (remote and proximal sensing, model-based forecasting, mobile applications, etc.) well as the influence of policy measures and socio-economic contexts on the interplay between grassland productivity and biodiversity under a changing climate.

Dr. Gianni Bellocchi
Dr. Catherine Picon-Cochard
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agronomy is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • biodiversity
  • carbon-nitrogen cycles
  • climate change
  • grassland

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Effects of Climate Change on Grassland Biodiversity and Productivity
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1047; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061047 - 24 May 2021
Viewed by 420
Abstract
Associated with livestock farming, grasslands with a high diversity of plant species are at the core of low-input fodder production worldwide [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Climate Change on Grassland Biodiversity and Productivity)
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Research

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Article
Influence of the UAN Fertilizer Application on Quantitative and Qualitative Changes in Semi-Natural Grassland in Western Carpathians
Agronomy 2021, 11(2), 267; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11020267 - 31 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 753
Abstract
Semi-natural grasslands are particularly important in mountainous areas of Romania, being the only source of forage for many farmers. The aim of this study was to investigate the changes in forage quantity and quality as a result of Urea Ammonium nitrate (UAN) liquid [...] Read more.
Semi-natural grasslands are particularly important in mountainous areas of Romania, being the only source of forage for many farmers. The aim of this study was to investigate the changes in forage quantity and quality as a result of Urea Ammonium nitrate (UAN) liquid fertilization. The experiment was carried out in the eastern part of Apuseni Mountains, Romania on a Festuca rubra L.-Agrostis capillaris L. grassland located at 1240 m altitude. Studies were made over three years of experimental trial (2014–2016) and covered four experimental plots in three replicates, as follows: V1–control plot, unfertilized; V2–plot fertilized with 50 kg UAN ha−1 year−1; V3–plot fertilized with 75 kg UAN ha−1 year−1, and V4–plot fertilized with 100 kg UAN ha−1 year−1. The experimental plots were harvested once per year and the botanical composition, dry matter yield and forage quality were assessed. Our results showed important changes in forage quantity, quality and diversity as a result of UAN fertilization. Starting from the second experimental year the dominance/co-dominance ratio changed favoring the species from Poaceae family. Dry matter increased as a result of UAN fertilization but forage quality was negatively affected by the higher percentage of participation of species from other botanical families which have higher crude fiber content and lower crude protein. Based on our results we recommend moderate fertilization with UAN up to 50 kg UAN ha−1 year−1 for semi-natural grasslands located in soil-climatic conditions similar to those in our experiment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Climate Change on Grassland Biodiversity and Productivity)
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Article
Seasonal Herbaceous Structure and Biomass Production Response to Rainfall Reduction and Resting Period in the Semi-Arid Grassland Area of South Africa
Agronomy 2020, 10(11), 1807; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111807 - 17 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 637
Abstract
Reduction in rainfall is amongst the major climate change manifestation phenomena, and will have a significant impact on grassland ecosystems. A split plot experimental design was used to investigate the interactive effect of rainfall reduction and resting period (RP) (70 and 90 days) [...] Read more.
Reduction in rainfall is amongst the major climate change manifestation phenomena, and will have a significant impact on grassland ecosystems. A split plot experimental design was used to investigate the interactive effect of rainfall reduction and resting period (RP) (70 and 90 days) on herbaceous biomass production and rainwater use efficiency in semi-arid grasslands of South Africa. Different levels of rainfall reduction (RD) were setup as main plot treatments while resting periods were set as sub-plot treatments. Four 0.5 m × 0.5 m quadrats were harvested in spring, summer and autumn of 2016/17 and 2017/18 from each sub-plot to determine herbaceous species structure, aboveground biomass production and rainwater use efficiency (RUE). Grasses were most affected by rainfall reduction than forbs at the 30% and 60% RD levels. In contrast, the forbs were more affected at 15% RD while the grasses showed resilience up to 15% reduction in rainfall. The RUE was higher at 30% RD and 70 days RP in almost all three seasons, except in spring 2016/17. Our results show that herbaceous above ground biomass showed resilience up to 15% reduction but were affected more as the rainfall reduction exceeded 30%. The future predicted reduction in rainfall may result in domination of forbs and increaser grass species in the grassland. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Climate Change on Grassland Biodiversity and Productivity)
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Article
The Impact of Grazing on the Grass Composition in Temperate Grassland
Agronomy 2020, 10(9), 1230; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10091230 - 20 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 713
Abstract
Grazing is one of the predominant human activities taking place today inside protected areas, with both direct and indirect effects on the vegetation community. We analyzed the effects of grazing intensity on grass composition during four grazing seasons containing 78 plant species belonging [...] Read more.
Grazing is one of the predominant human activities taking place today inside protected areas, with both direct and indirect effects on the vegetation community. We analyzed the effects of grazing intensity on grass composition during four grazing seasons containing 78 plant species belonging to eight plant functional groups, which include perennial tall grass (6 species), perennial short grass (6 species), shrubs (3 species), legumes (9 species), Liliaceae herb (8 species), annual/biennial plants (11 species), perennial short forbs (16 species) and perennial tall forbs (18 species). We estimated grazing intensity at four levels, control, light, moderate and heavy grazing intensity corresponding to 0.00, 0.23, 0.46 and 0.92 animal units ha−1, respectively. We found that each plant functional group showed a different response to grazing intensity. Perennial tall grasses that were dominated by high palatable mesophyte and mesoxerophyte grass showed a significant decrease with grazing intensity, while the medium palatable xerophyte and widespread grasses that were the predominant short perennial increases with grazing intensity. The perennial tall forbs that were dominated by the mesophyte grass also decreased, but the decrease was statistically insignificant. The influence of grazing density on species is also related to soil factors (soil nutrient, soil moisture and soil temperature and soil bulk density). Some functional groups such as tall fescue and Liliaceae herbs, remained stable—which may be related to the changes in the soil environment caused by grazing activities. The findings of this study could provide a standpoint for assessing the current grazing management scenarios and conducting timely adaptive practices to maintain the long-term ability of grassland systems to perform their ecological functions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Climate Change on Grassland Biodiversity and Productivity)
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Article
Can the Application the Silicon Improve the Productivity and Nutritional Value of Grass–Clover Sward in Conditions of Rainfall Shortage in Organic Management?
Agronomy 2020, 10(7), 1007; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10071007 - 13 Jul 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 621
Abstract
To improve sward efficiency and maintain high feed quality in organic farming—as well as compensate for yield losses under anticipated drought periods—alternative fertilization practices should be considered. In this context, this study aimed to assess the response to summer drought of grass–clover sward [...] Read more.
To improve sward efficiency and maintain high feed quality in organic farming—as well as compensate for yield losses under anticipated drought periods—alternative fertilization practices should be considered. In this context, this study aimed to assess the response to summer drought of grass–clover sward in organic cultivation under various conditions of foliar fertilization with silicon (Si) (without Si, Si applied with multicomponent fertilizer Herbagreen, Si applied with growth stimulator Optysil). The research was conducted at the certified organic field in the 3rd, 4th and 5th year of mowing utilization (from 2015 to 2017). The studies demonstrated a beneficial effect of Si application on the yield of the grass–clover sward, especially under multicomponent fertilizer. Both fertilizers increased roots mass, but growth stimulator (containing mainly Si) had a stronger impact, especially with rainfall scarcity. In such conditions the application of Si decreased flavones concentration in plants and increased values of chlorophyll index. This study also indicated the potential for applying Si fertilizers to improve content of nutrients (crude protein, organic matter digestibility, potassium and phosphorus) in the sward. The results of presented studies may be used in fertilization practice of organic crop for enhancing sward productivity and to compensate for yield losses under condition of rainfall deficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Climate Change on Grassland Biodiversity and Productivity)
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Article
Expected Changes to Alpine Pastures in Extent and Composition under Future Climate Conditions
Agronomy 2020, 10(7), 926; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10070926 - 28 Jun 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 746
Abstract
As the basis of livestock feeding and related performances, pastures evolution and dynamics need to be carefully monitored and assessed, particularly in the Alps where the effects of land abandonment are further amplified by climate change. As such, increases in temperature associated with [...] Read more.
As the basis of livestock feeding and related performances, pastures evolution and dynamics need to be carefully monitored and assessed, particularly in the Alps where the effects of land abandonment are further amplified by climate change. As such, increases in temperature associated with changes in precipitation patterns and quantity are leading to modifications of grassland extent and composition with consequences on the pastoral systems. This study applied a machine learning approach (Random Forest) and GIS techniques to map the suitability of seven pasture macro types most representative of the Italian Alps and simulated the impact of climate change on their dynamics according to two future scenarios (RCP4.5, 8.5), two time-slices (2011–2040, 2041–2070), and three RCMs (Aladin, CMCC, ICTP). Results indicated that (i) the methodology was robust to map the current suitability of pasture macro types (mean accuracy classification = 98.7%), so as to predict the expected alterations due to climate change; (ii) future climate will likely reduce current extend of suitable pasture (−30% on average) and composition, especially for most niche ecosystems (i.e., pastures dominated by Carex firma and Festuca gr. Rubra); (iii) areas suited to hardier but less palatable pastures (i.e., dominated by Nardus stricta and xeric species) will expand over the Alps in the near future. These impacts will likely determine risks for biodiversity loss and decreases of pastoral values for livestock feeding, both pivotal aspects for maintaining the viability and profitability of the Alpine pastoral system as a whole. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Climate Change on Grassland Biodiversity and Productivity)
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Article
The Effect on Tytanit Foliar Application on the Yield and Nutritional Value of Festulolium braunii
Agronomy 2020, 10(6), 848; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10060848 - 14 Jun 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 648
Abstract
The aim of the research was to assess the content of protein and soluble sugars and the yield of Festulolium braunii treated with different fertilizers. The effects of Tytanit foliar application at a concentration of 0.2% and 1% and of mineral nitrogen at [...] Read more.
The aim of the research was to assess the content of protein and soluble sugars and the yield of Festulolium braunii treated with different fertilizers. The effects of Tytanit foliar application at a concentration of 0.2% and 1% and of mineral nitrogen at a dose of 80 and 160 kg/ha were studied in the experiment. When the grass was fully developed (2015–2017), Festulolium braunii was harvested three times a year. Mineral nitrogen fertilizer in combination with Tytanit increased the yield and the concentration of proteinin the plants. Each year the highest yield was recorded on plots treated with mineral nitrogen at a dose of 160 kg ha−1 in combination with the foliar application of Tytanit at a concentration of 1%. In the 1st and 2nd years of the research, Festulolium braunii treated with one dose of Tytanit at a concentration of 1% contained more soluble sugars than plants from plots treated with nitrogen. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Climate Change on Grassland Biodiversity and Productivity)
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Article
Simulating Long-Term Development of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Plant Biomass, and Soil Moisture of a Temperate Grassland Ecosystem under Elevated Atmospheric CO2
Agronomy 2020, 10(1), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10010050 - 29 Dec 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1071
Abstract
The rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations have effects on the worldwide ecosystems such as an increase in biomass production as well as changing soil processes and conditions. Since this affects the ecosystem’s net balance of greenhouse gas emissions, reliable projections about the CO [...] Read more.
The rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations have effects on the worldwide ecosystems such as an increase in biomass production as well as changing soil processes and conditions. Since this affects the ecosystem’s net balance of greenhouse gas emissions, reliable projections about the CO2 impact are required. Deterministic models can capture the interrelated biological, hydrological, and biogeochemical processes under changing CO2 concentrations if long-term observations for model testing are provided. We used 13 years of data on above-ground biomass production, soil moisture, and emissions of CO2 and N2O from the Free Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment (FACE) grassland experiment in Giessen, Germany. Then, the LandscapeDNDC ecosystem model was calibrated with data measured under current CO2 concentrations and validated under elevated CO2. Depending on the hydrological conditions, different CO2 effects were observed and captured well for all ecosystem variables but N2O emissions. Confidence intervals of ensemble simulations covered up to 96% of measured biomass and CO2 emission values, while soil water content was well simulated in terms of annual cycle and location-specific CO2 effects. N2O emissions under elevated CO2 could not be reproduced, presumably due to a rarely considered mineralization process of organic nitrogen, which is not yet included in LandscapeDNDC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Climate Change on Grassland Biodiversity and Productivity)
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Review

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Review
Incorporating Biodiversity into Biogeochemistry Models to Improve Prediction of Ecosystem Services in Temperate Grasslands: Review and Roadmap
Agronomy 2020, 10(2), 259; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020259 - 12 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1606
Abstract
Multi-species grasslands are reservoirs of biodiversity and provide multiple ecosystem services, including fodder production and carbon sequestration. The provision of these services depends on the control exerted on the biogeochemistry and plant diversity of the system by the interplay of biotic and abiotic [...] Read more.
Multi-species grasslands are reservoirs of biodiversity and provide multiple ecosystem services, including fodder production and carbon sequestration. The provision of these services depends on the control exerted on the biogeochemistry and plant diversity of the system by the interplay of biotic and abiotic factors, e.g., grazing or mowing intensity. Biogeochemical models incorporate a mechanistic view of the functioning of grasslands and provide a sound basis for studying the underlying processes. However, in these models, the simulation of biogeochemical cycles is generally not coupled to simulation of plant species dynamics, which leads to considerable uncertainty about the quality of predictions. Ecological models, on the other hand, do account for biodiversity with approaches adopted from plant demography, but without linking the dynamics of plant species to the biogeochemical processes occurring at the community level, and this hampers the models’ capacity to assess resilience against abiotic stresses such as drought and nutrient limitation. While setting out the state-of-the-art developments of biogeochemical and ecological modelling, we explore and highlight the role of plant diversity in the regulation of the ecosystem processes underlying the ecosystems services provided by multi-species grasslands. An extensive literature and model survey was carried out with an emphasis on technically advanced models reconciling biogeochemistry and biodiversity, which are readily applicable to managed grasslands in temperate latitudes. We propose a roadmap of promising developments in modelling. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Climate Change on Grassland Biodiversity and Productivity)
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