The response of ecosystem carbon and nitrogen pools to experimental warming in grasslands: A meta-analysis

Junliang Zou, Juying Wu, Bruce Osborne, Yiqi Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) coupling processes in terrestrial ecosystems have the potential to modify the sensitivity of the global C cycle to climate change. But the degree to which C-N interactions contribute to the sequestration of terrestrial ecosystem C (Cseq), both now and in the future, remains uncertain. In this study, we used a meta-analysis to quantitatively synthesize C and N responses from field experiments on grasslands subjected to simulated warming and assessed the relative importance of three properties (changes in ecosystem N amount, redistribution of N among soil, litter and vegetation, and modifications in the C:N ratio) associated with grassland Cseq in response to warming. Warming increased soil, litter and vegetation C:N ratios and approximately 2% of N shifted from the soil to vegetation and litter. Warming-induced grassland Cseq was the result of the net balance between increases in vegetation and litter C (111.2 g m-2) and decreases in soil C (30.0 g m-2). Warming-induced accumulation of C stocks in grassland ecosystems indicated that the three processes examined were the main contributors to Cseq, with the changes in C:N ratios in soil, litter and vegetation as the major contributors, followed by N redistribution, whilst a decrease in total N had a negative effect on Cseq. These results indicate that elevated temperatures have a significant influence on grassland C and N stocks and their coupling processes, suggesting that ecological models need to include C-N interactions for more accurate predictions of future terrestrial C storage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)733-742
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Plant Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022


  • carbon sequestration
  • carbon-nitrogen interactions
  • climate change
  • grasslands
  • nitrogen limitation
  • stoichiometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The response of ecosystem carbon and nitrogen pools to experimental warming in grasslands: A meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this