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Title: The British lawn and climate change
Author: Jeffery, A.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2000
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The overall aim of this study was to assess the robustness of the lawn ecosystem to increased temperature and imposed drought in line with current scenarios of climate change. The practical aim was to identify everyday lawn treatments (fertilizer and leaving clippings) which are sustainable and increase tolerance of, or recovery from, these climatic conditions. Investigations of lawn growth rates and colour indicated that the lawn recovers from the range of climatic conditions tested (3°C temperature elevation and two or three month summer drought), that recovery is rapid following drought, and under the extreme combination of heat and drought, the lawn ecosystem is still persistent. Warming leads to increased ET and reduced soil moisture and this in turn decreases lawn growth and quality, particularly in the summer. However, growth and colour rapidly return to normal levels when soil moisture increases in the autumn. When soil moisture is non-limiting, warming can lead to increases in lawn growth. Similarly, fertilizer increases growth and greenness when environmental conditions are non-limiting but under drought or warming fertilizer can lower ecosystem robustness. Drought leads to increases in nitrate leaching as does heating to a lesser extent and heating can also increase plant uptake of nitrogen. Nitrate losses from highly fertilized plots are severe and losses can also occur when clippings are left on the lawn. In clippings treatments nitrate leaching is higher in unheated than heated plots where plant uptake of nitrogen is also higher. Leaving clippings is effective in the autumn recovery of heated and unheated plots. This study has shown that a no-management approach to summer drought and warmer temperatures is valid if browning-off is acceptable, that management for autumn recovery rather than summer persistence is appropriate, and that clippings are better for lawn robustness than fertilizer.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available