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European Stress Physiology and Climate Experiment: project 2-Grass

Objective

ESPACE-grass is a programme of coordinated experiments and
mathematical modelling at sites across Europe which aims to
establish the impacts of future climatic change and associated
stresses on major components of European grassland vegetation,
both managed and natural.


This project will consist of a series of experiments, at five
different locations throughout Europe, which will investigate the
growth and physiological responses of grasses and legumes
(components of natural and managed grasslands) grown at ambient
(340 ppm) and elevated (520 ppm and 680 ppm) CO2
concentrations.
Four of the centres (TCD - Ireland; ITE - Bangor, U.K.; IGER -
Hurley, U.K. and CESIA - Florence, Italy) will use a standard
design of open-top chambers (OTCs) to expose vegetation to
elevated CO2. These centres have been chosen to give a
geographical spread with associated climatic differences. This
will enable the interactions between climate and elevated CO2
to
be investigated. In addition, two centres (GSF - Munich, Germany
and ITE - Bangor, U.K.) will use more closely controlled
environments while exposing similar plants to elevated CO2
levels. These experiments will provide independent and
reproducible references to the open-top chamber experiments. The
grass or legume species used at each centre will be determined by
the expertise and existing interests at the centre although
ryegrass (Lolium perenne) will be used in addition as a
reference.

Further experiments will be carried out in order to quantify
the competitive interactions between species in response to
changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations under both cutting
and grazing, to determine the interactions between ambient
temperature and elevated CO2 levels, to determine the
effects
of changes in plant and soil water relations (brought about by
altered rainfall and evapotranspiration) on the growth of grasses
and legumes, to investigate the interactions of growth at
elevated CO2 levels with soil nutrient supply, particularly
nitrogen, to investigate the relative sensitivity of native
lowland and upland grasses to elevated CO2 levels and
temperature
increases, and to investigate the interactions between effects
of elevated CO2 and the anthropogenically imposed stresses of
increasing UVB radiation and ozone.

In order to integrate the information on plant responses to
elevated CO2 and stress obtained at each centre the Hurley
Pasture Model, developed by J.H.M. Thornley, will be expanded
and developed to incorporate responses to increasing CO2,
temperature and other stresses. Mathematical modelling will also
be used to study how the local dynamics of multispecies
communities will be altered by elevated CO2 and other
environmental changes. These models of gap colonisation will
describe changes in the relative abundance of species within a
habitat and will predict the extent to which range expansion or
retraction of particular species is expected.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

THE PROVOST, FELLOWS AND SCHOLARS OF THE COLLEGE OF THE HOLY AND UNDIVIDED TRINITY OF QUEEN ELIZABETH NEAR DUBLIN HEREINAFTER TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN
Address
College Green
2 Dublin
Ireland

Participants (4)

Accademia Economico Agraria dei Georgofili
Italy
Address
8,Via Giovanni Caproni 8
50122 Firenze
GSF-Forschungszentrum für Umwelt und Gesundheit GmbH
Germany
Address
Ingolstädter Landstraße 1
85758 Oberschleissheim
Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research
United Kingdom
Address
North Wyke Research Station
EX20 2SB Okehampton
NERC Institute of Terrestrial Ecology
United Kingdom
Address
Deiniol Road
LL57 2UW Bangor