Table of Contents
ISRN Ecology
Volume 2011, Article ID 926061, 8 pages
Research Article

Short-Term Plant Community Responses to Warming and Defoliation in a Northern Temperate Grassland

1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, American University of Beirut, Riad El-Solh/Beirut 1107 2020, Lebanon
2Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2P5
3Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2E9
4Department of Renewable Resources, Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Science, University of Alberta, 442 ESB, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2E3

Received 17 June 2011; Accepted 25 July 2011

Academic Editors: A. Bortolus, F. Jeltsch, W. Liang, C. R. Ruetz, and F. Thomas

Copyright © 2011 Eliza S. Deutsch et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Little is known about the short-term impacts of warming on native plant community dynamics in the northern Canadian prairies. This study examined the immediate effects of elevated temperature and defoliation on plant community diversity, composition, and biomass within a native rough fescue (Festuca hallii (Vasey) Piper) grassland over two growing seasons. We used open-top chambers to simulate climate change and defoliated vegetation in midsummer of the first year to simulate biomass loss associated with periodic ungulate grazing. Warming marginally increased plant species diversity and changed community composition shortly after treatment, but effects were not apparent the second year, and there were no apparent impacts on plant biomass. Nonetheless, warming may have impacted community diversity indirectly through reduced soil moisture content, a pattern that persisted into the second year. Overall, this northern temperate grassland demonstrated limited community-level changes to warming even in the presence of defoliation.