Document Type

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Report

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Regional models of global climate change for the northern Rocky Mountains predict warmer temperatures, and some of the main implications of these changes at a local level involve decreased snowpack, earlier snowmelt, and decreased soil moisture during the growing season. In order to mimic the anticipated effects of climate change, and test the responses from a soil microclimate and plant physiology perspective, open-sided warming chambers and snow removal treatments were applied to 2.44 X 2.44 m plots in a sagebrush steppe meadow within Grand Teton National Park, WY. Four treatments included: (1) control, (2) reduced snowpack, (3) increased temperature, and (4) reduced snowpack with increased temperature. Snow was removed using shovels in early May, and chambers were placed at the same time. The chambers were left on the plots through mid-October. Soil moisture and temperature were measured and recorded at 5 cm, and 25 cm depths using dataloggers set up at the time of snow removal and chamber placement. In addition, surface temperature was measured under each plot and within the study area. Plant physiological data on four plant species, including leaf temperature at dawn and mid-afternoon and water potential, were collected for all of the plots in July. Data are being analyzed to determine whether differences existed between the plots for soil moisture, soil and air temperature, and the plant physiological traits measured.