iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Effects of warmer and drier climate conditions on plant composition and biomass production in a Mediterranean shrubland community

G De Dato (1), G Pellizzaro (2), C Cesaraccio (2), C Sirca (3), P De Angelis (1)   , P Duce (2), D Spano (3), G Scarascia Mugnozza (4)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 39-48 (2008)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor0418-0010039
Published: Feb 28, 2008 - Copyright © 2008 SISEF

Research Articles

The last IPCC report predicts warmer and drier conditions for the future European climate and the Mediterranean basin could be highly sensible to future climatic change. In order to investigate how the forecast more stressing factors could affect Mediterranean shrubland ecosystems, an appropriate manipulation of the microclimate was carried out in an area covered by Mediterranean maquis aimed at extending the drought period and increasing the night-time temperature. Soil cover, plant growth, litterfall, leaf water status, and leaf nutritional status were monitored over three growing seasons. The manipulation altered the microclimate according to common scenarios, increasing mean annual night-time air temperature by about 1 °C and mean annual temperature by about 0.5 °C, and decreasing precipitation between 6-46% of the total rainfall during the growing seasons. A general increase of vegetation cover was observed in the whole community during the three years of experimentation. This positive temporal pattern was mainly observed in control and warming treatment, whereas in the drought treatment it was less evident. At species-specific level, a clear negative effect of drought treatment was observed for C. monspeliensis percentage cover. Shoot elongation was not significantly affected by the warming treatment. A significant negative effect of drought treatment was noticed in the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 growing seasons. An increase of N and P concentrations in the drought treatment in Cistus was observed and it can be explained by the reduced shoot growth induced by the water shortage that we had observed in the same treatment. The absence of a concentration effect on the other two species could be the signal of the different behaviour with regard to a drier climate, and therefore could be a symptom of future change in species composition. We underline the need of long-term observation, because of the different responses of plants in the short and long- term conditions.


Mediterranean shrublands, Plant production, Night-time warming, Drought period extension

Authors’ address

G De Dato
P De Angelis
Department of Forest Environment and Resources, University of Tuscia, via S. Camillo De Lellis snc - 01100 Viterbo (Italy)
G Pellizzaro
C Cesaraccio
P Duce
National Research Council Institute of Biometeorology, Via Funtana di Lu Colbu, 4/A - 07100 Sassari (Italy)
C Sirca
D Spano
Department of Economics and Woody Plant Ecosystems University of Sassari, via E. De Nicola, 1 - 07100 Sassari (Italy)
G Scarascia Mugnozza
National Research Council Institute of Agro-Environmental and Forest Biology, c/o Area di Ricerca, Via Salaria km. 29.3 - c.p. 10 - 00016 Monterotondo Scalo, Roma (Italy)

Corresponding author

P De Angelis


De Dato G, Pellizzaro G, Cesaraccio C, Sirca C, De Angelis P, Duce P, Spano D, Scarascia Mugnozza G (2008). Effects of warmer and drier climate conditions on plant composition and biomass production in a Mediterranean shrubland community. iForest 1: 39-48. - doi: 10.3832/ifor0418-0010039

Paper history

Received: Jun 29, 2006
Accepted: Nov 17, 2006

First online: Feb 28, 2008
Publication Date: Feb 28, 2008
Publication Time: 15.60 months

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