Author: Yang, Z., L. Jiang, F. Su, Q. Zhang, J. Xia, and S. Wan.
Journal: Scientific Reports
Drought events could have profound influence on plant community structure and ecosystem function, and have subsequent impacts on community stability, but we know little about how different climate warming scenarios affect community resistance and resilience to drought. Combining a daytime and nighttime warming experiment in the temperate steppe of north China with a natural drought event during the study period, we tested how daytime and nighttime warming influences drought resistance and resilience. Our results showed that the semi-arid steppe in north China was resistant to both daytime and nighttime warming, but vulnerable to drought. Nighttime warming, but not daytime warming, enhanced community resistance to drought via stimulating carbon sequestration, whereas neither daytime nor nighttime warming affected community resilience to drought. Large decline in plant community cover, primarily caused by the reduction in the cover of dominant and rare species rather than subordinate species during drought, did not preclude rapid ecosystem recovery. These findings suggest that nighttime warming may facilitate ecosystem sustainability and highlight the need to assess the effects of climate extremes on ecosystem functions at finer temporal resolutions than based on diurnal mean temperature.