Author: Song, J., D. Wu, P. Shao, D. Hui, and S. Wan
It is predicted that locust outbreaks will occur more frequently under future climate change scenarios, with consequent effects on ecological goods and services. A field manipulative experiment was conducted to examine the responses of gross ecosystem productivity (GEP), net ecosystem carbon dioxide (CO2) exchange (NEE), ecosystem respiration (ER), and soil respiration (SR) to locust outbreaks in a temperate steppe of northern China from 2010 to 2011. Two processes related to locust outbreaks, natural locust feeding and carcass deposition, were mimicked by clipping 80 % of aboveground biomass and adding locust carcasses, respectively. Ecosystem carbon (C) exchange (i.e., GEP, NEE, ER, and SR) was suppressed by locust feeding in 2010, but stimulated by locust carcass deposition in both years (except SR in 2011). Experimental locust outbreaks (i.e., clipping plus locust carcass addition) decreased GEP and NEE in 2010 whereas they increased GEP, NEE, and ER in 2011, leading to neutral changes in GEP, NEE, and SR across the 2 years. The responses of ecosystem C exchange could have been due to the changes in soil ammonium nitrogen, community cover, and aboveground net primary productivity. Our findings of the transient and neutral changes in ecosystem C cycling under locust outbreaks highlight the importance of resistance, resilience, and stability of the temperate steppe in maintaining reliable ecosystem services, and facilitate the projections of ecosystem functioning in response to natural disturbance and climate change.