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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10204/2183

Title: Approach to modelling spatial changes of plant carbon: nitrogen ratios in southern Africa in relation to anticipated global climate change
Authors: Kunz, RP
Schulze, RE
Scholes, RJ
Keywords: Climate changes
Carbon-Nitrogen ratios
Assimilation rates
Southern Africa
Issue Date: Mar-1995
Publisher: Blackwell Science Ltd
Citation: Kunz, RP, Schulze, RE and Scholes, RJ. 1995. Approach to modelling spatial changes of plant carbon: nitrogen ratios in southern Africa in relation to anticipated global climate change. Journal of Biogeography, vol. 22, 03 February, pp 401-408
Abstract: The carbon to nitrogen (C: N) ratio is the main factor determining the forage quality of a plant, with a low C: N ratio indicating relatively good plant digestibility and a high C: N ratio inferring relatively poor forage quality. Global atmospheric composition and climate change effects on plant carbon to nitrogen ratios are thus likely to be important when predicting possible second-order impacts of the enhanced greenhouse effect on rangeland forage quality and the resultant feeding habits of foraging animals and herbivorous insects. Equations relating the assimilation of total carbon and nitrogen rates to monthly air temperature, the ambient CO2 level and soil fertility were used together with detailed spatial climatic and soil databases to simulate regional patterns of C: N ratios over southern Africa. Carbon to nitrogen ratios were estimated for both the present climate and for a possible future climate scenario defined by a general 2 degrees C mean daily temperature increase over southern Africa (but with latitudinal, seasonal and diurnal adjustments made), an increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration from 360 to 560 ppmv, but with no changes in precipitation patterns. When C: N differences between future and present climates are examined, results indicate both relative increases and decreases over southern Africa in a regional context, ranging from - 8 to + 8%. Areas where the C: N ratios decreased indicate that for the future climate scenario which was assumed the relative increase in assimilated nitrogen would be greater than that for carbon. Similarly, areas where the C: N ratios increased indicate that the relative increase in assimilated carbon would be greater than that for nitrogen. In this study, regions sensitive to climate change effects on C: N ratios in southern Africa have therefore been identified and with that, those areas where the consumption of plant matter may be expected to increase or decrease as a result of anticipated global climate change.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10204/2183
http://hdl.handle.net/10204/2183
ISSN: 0305-0270
Appears in Collections:Climate change
General science, engineering & technology

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