From desert to Mediterranean rangelands: Will increasing drought and inter-annual rainfall variability affect herbaceous annual primary productivity?

Carly Golodets, Marcelo Sternberg, Jaime Kigel, Bertrand Boeken, Zalmen Henkin, No'am G. Seligman, Eugene David Ungar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

Climate change is predicted to alter the rainfall regime in the Eastern Mediterranean Basin: total annual rainfall will decrease, while seasonal and inter-annual variation in rainfall will increase. Such changes in the rainfall regime could potentially lead to large-scale changes in aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP) in the region. We conducted a data-driven evaluation of herbaceous ANPP along an entire regional rainfall gradient, from desert (90 mm MAR [Mean Annual Rainfall]) to Mesic-Mediterranean (780 mm MAR) ecosystems, using the largest database ever collated for herbaceous ANPP in Israel, with the aim of predicting consequences of climate change for rangeland productivity. This research revealed that herbaceous ANPP increases with increasing rainfall along the gradient, but strong dependence on rainfall was only apparent within dry sites. Rain Use Efficiency peaks at mid-gradient in Mediterranean sites without woody vegetation (560 and 610 mm MAR). Inter-annual coefficients of variation in rainfall and herbaceous ANPP decrease along the rainfall gradient up to ca. 500 mm MAR. Climate change is more likely to affect herbaceous ANPP of rangelands in the arid end of the rainfall gradient, requiring adaptation of rangeland management, while ANPP of rangelands in more mesic ecosystems is less responsive to variation in rainfall. We conclude that herbaceous ANPP in most Mediterranean rangelands is less vulnerable to climate change than generally predicted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-798
Number of pages14
JournalClimatic Change
Volume119
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2013

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