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Seasonal water availability predicts the relative abundance of C3 and C4 grasses in Australia

Murphy, Brett and Bowman, David (2007). Seasonal water availability predicts the relative abundance of C3 and C4 grasses in Australia. Global Ecology and Biogeography: a journal of macroecology,16(2):160-169.

Document type: Journal Article
Citation counts: Scopus Citation Count Cited 20 times in Scopus Article | Citations

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IRMA ID A00004xPUB78
Title Seasonal water availability predicts the relative abundance of C3 and C4 grasses in Australia
Author Murphy, Brett
Bowman, David
Journal Name Global Ecology and Biogeography: a journal of macroecology
Publication Date 2007
Volume Number 16
Issue Number 2
ISSN 1466-8238   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-33847239533
Start Page 160
End Page 169
Total Pages 10
Place of Publication Oxford, UK
Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Field of Research 0406 - Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience
0602 - Ecology
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract Aim: Numerous studies have examined the climatic factors that influence the abundance of C-4 species within the grass flora (C-4 relative species richness) in various regions throughout the world, but very few have examined the relative abundance of C-4 vs. C-3 grasses (C-4 relative abundance). We sought to determine the climatic factors that influence C-4 relative abundance throughout Australia. Location: Australia (including Tasmania). Methods: We measured C-4 relative abundance at 168 locations and measured delta C-13 (the abundance of C-13 relative to C-12) of the bone collagen of 779 kangaroos collected throughout Australia, as bone collagen delta C-13 was assumed to be proportional to the relative abundance of C-4 grasses in the diet. Results: Both C-4 relative abundance and kangaroo bone collagen delta C-13 were found to have a strong positive relationship with seasonal water availability, i.e. the distribution of rainfall in the C-4 vs. C-3 growing seasons (76% and 69% of deviance explained, respectively). There was clear evidence that seasonal water availability was a better predictor of both C-4 relative abundance and bone collagen delta C-13 than other climate variables such as mean annual temperature and January daily minimum temperature. However, seasonal water availability appeared to be a relatively poor predictor of C-4 relative species richness, which was most closely related to January daily minimum temperature (90% of deviance explained). Main conclusions: Our results highlight the relatively poor relationship between C-4 relative abundance and C-4 relative species richness, and suggest that these two variables may be related to different climatic factors. They also suggest that caution is required when using C-4 relative species richness to infer the relative biomass and productivity of C-4 grasses on a global scale.
Keywords carbon
photosynthetic pathway
stable isotope
plant functional types
c02 partial pressure
atmospheric co2
geographical distribution
global distribution
climate change
north america
c4 grasses
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