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The response of terrestrial ecosystems to global climate change: Towards an integrated approach

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Science of The Total Environment. 404(2-3): 222-235.


Accumulating evidence points to an anthropogenic 'fingerprint' on the global climate change that has occurred in the last century. Climate change has, and will continue to have, profound effects on the structure and function of terrestrial ecosystems. As such, there is a critical need to continue to develop a sound scientific basis for national and international policies regulating carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions. This paper reflects on the nature of current global change experiments, and provides recommendations for a unified multidisciplinary approach to future research in this dynamic field. These recommendations include: (1) better integration between experiments and models, and amongst experimental, monitoring, and space-for-time studies; (2) stable and increased support for long-term studies and multi-factor experiments; (3) explicit inclusion of biodiversity, disturbance, and extreme events in experiments and models; (4) consideration of timing vs intensity of global change factors in experiments and models; (5) evaluation of potential thresholds or ecosystem ‘tipping points’; and (6) increased support for model–model and model–experiment comparisons. These recommendations, which reflect discussions within the TERACC international network of global change scientists, will facilitate the unraveling of the complex direct and indirect effects of global climate change on terrestrial ecosystems and their components.


Global climate change; Global change experiments; TERACC; Terrestrial ecosystems


Rustad, Lindsey E. 2008. The response of terrestrial ecosystems to global climate change: Towards an integrated approach. Science of The Total Environment. 404(2-3).pp. 222-235.

Last updated on: August 22, 2011