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- Author or Editor: E. Kovács-Láng x
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Growth characteristics, such as basal stem diameter, total length of wooded branches and root/shoot ratios in different ecological populations of Fumana procumbenswere studied in the perennial open sand grassland Festucetum vaginataeunder different climatic conditions in Hungary. The age of individual plants was determined by counting the annual rings in the basal section of stems. Basal stem diameters and their average yearly increment as well as the total length of wooded branches with individuals of the same age were significantly higher under wet conditions. The close relation of basal stem diameters and branch length with age could be described by linear regression both under wet and dry conditions. There was no significant differences in the root/shoot ratios between the dry and wet sites. Having established a reliable relation between basal stem diameter and age of Fumanaindividuals, authors developed a simple, quick and non-destructive field method for age determination of Fumana.
The influence of simulated climate change on soil respiration was studied in a field experiment on 4 m × 5 m plots in the semiarid temperate Pannonian sand forest-steppe. This ecosystem type has low productivity and soil organic matter content, and covers large areas, yet data on soil carbon fluxes are still limited. Soil respiration rate — measured monthly between April and November from 2003 to 2006 — remained very low (0.09 — 1.53 μmol CO 2 m −2 s −1 ) in accordance with the moderate biological activity and low humus content of the nutrient poor, coarse sandy soil. Specific soil respiration rate (calculated for unit soil organic matter content), however, was relatively high (0.36–7.92 μmol CO 2 g −1 C org h −1 ) suggesting substrate limitation for soil biological activity. During the day, soil respiration rate was significantly lower at dawn than at midday, while seasonally clear temperature limitation in winter and water limitation in summer were detected. Between years, annual precipitation appeared to be important in determining soil carbon efflux intensity. Nocturnal warming increased soil temperature in 1 cm depth at dawn by 1.6°C on the average, and decreased topsoil (0–11 cm) moisture content by 0.45 vol%. Drought treatment decreased soil moisture content by an average of 0.81 vol%. Soil respiration rate tended to decrease by 7–15% and 13–15% in response to heat and drought treatment, respectively, although the changes were not statistically significant. Nocturnal warming usually prevented dew formation, and that probably also influenced soil respiration. Based on these results, we expect a reduction in the volume and rate of organic matter turnover in this ecosystem in response to the anticipated climate change in the region.
Aboveground plant biomass is one of the most important features of ecosystems, and it is widely used in ecosystem research. Non-destructive biomass estimation methods provide an important toolkit, because the destructive harvesting method is in many cases not feasible. However, only few studies have compared the accuracy of these methods in grassland communities to date. We studied the accuracy of three widely used methods for estimation of aboveground biomass: the visual cover estimation method, the point intercept method, and field spectroscopy. We applied them in three independent series of field samplings in semi-arid sand grasslands in Central Hungary. For each sampling method, we applied linear regression to assess the strength of the relationship between biomass proxies and actual aboveground biomass, and used coefficient of determination to evaluate accuracy. We found no evidence that the visual cover estimation, which is generally considered as a subjective method, was less accurate than point intercept method or field spectroscopy in estimating biomass. Based on our three datasets, we found that accuracy was lower for the point intercept method compared to the other two methods, while field spectroscopy and visual cover estimation were similar to each other in the semi-arid sand grassland community. We conclude that visual cover estimation can be as accurate for estimating aboveground biomass as other approaches, thus the choice amongst the methods should be based on additional pros and cons associated with each of the method and related to the specific research objective.