Effects of long-term experimental warming on plants and soil microbes in a cool temperate semi-natural grassland in Japan

Mayuko Suzuki*, Nobuhiko Suminokura, Kenta Tanami, Shinpei Yoshitake, Shingo Masuda, Mitsutoshi Tomotsune, Hiroshi Koizumi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


To clarify the effects of long-term warming on ecosystem matter cycling, we conducted an in situ 7-year experimental warming (2009–2015) using infrared heaters in a cool temperate semi-natural grassland in Japan. We measured plant aboveground biomass, soil total C and N, soil inorganic N (NH4 +-N and NO3 -N), and soil microbial biomass for 7 years (2009–2015). We also measured heterotrophic respiration for 2 years (2013–2014) and assessed net N mineralization and nitrification in 2015. We found that warming immediately increased plant aboveground biomass, but this effect ceased in 2013. However, the soil microbial biomass was continuously depressed by warming. Soil inorganic N concentrations in warmed plots substantially increased in the later years of the experiment (2013–2015) and the potential net N mineralization rate was also higher than in the earlier years. In contrast, heterotrophic respiration decreased with warming in 2013–2014. Our observations indicate that long-term warming has a contrasting effect on plants and soil microbes. In addition, the warming could have different effects on subterranean C and N cycling. To enhance the accuracy of estimation of future climate change, it is essential to continuously observe the warming effects on ecosystems and to focus on the change in subterranean C and N cycling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)957-962
Number of pages6
JournalEcological Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Nov 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Heterotrophic respiration
  • Long-term experimental warming
  • Net N mineralization
  • Semi-natural grassland
  • Soil microbial biomass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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