I. A. Janssens

University of Antwerp, Antwerpen, Flanders, Belgium

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Publications (234)891.03 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Combustion of solid and liquid fuels is the largest source of potentially toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can strongly affect health and the physical and chemical properties of the atmosphere. Among combustion processes, biomass burning is one of the largest at global scale. We used a Proton Transfer Reaction “Time-of-Flight” Mass Spectrometer (PTR-TOF-MS), which couples high sensitivity with high mass resolution, for real-time detection of multiple VOCs emitted by burned hay and straw in a barn located near our measuring station. We detected 132 different organic ions directly attributable to VOCs emitted from the fire. Methanol, acetaldehyde, acetone, methyl vinyl ether (MVE), acetic acid and glycolaldehyde dominated the VOC mixture composition. The time-course of the 25 most abundant VOCs, representing ∼ 85% of the whole mixture of VOCs, was associated with that of carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions. The strong linear relationship between the concentrations of pyrogenic VOC and of a reference species (i.e. CO) allowed us to compile a list of emission ratios (ERs) and emission factors (EFs), but values of ER (and EF) were overestimated due to the limited mixing of the gases under the stable (non-turbulent) nocturnal conditions. In addition to the 25 most abundant VOCs, chemical formula and concentrations of the residual, less abundant VOCs in the emitted mixture were also estimated by PTR-TOF-MS. Furthermore, the evolution of the complex combustion process was described on the basis of the diverse types of pyrogenic gases recorded.
    Atmospheric Environment 11/2014; · 3.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: AimPlant elemental composition and stoichiometry are crucial for plant structure and function. We studied to what extent elemental stoichiometry in plants might be strongly related to environmental drivers and competition from coexisting species.LocationEurope.Methods We analysed foliar N, P, K, Ca and Mg concentrations and their ratios among 50 species of European forest trees sampled in 5284 plots across Europe and their relationships with phylogeny, forest type, current climate and N deposition.ResultsPhylogeny is strongly related to overall foliar elemental composition in European tree species. Species identity explained 56.7% of the overall foliar elemental composition and stoichiometry. Forest type and current climatic conditions also partially explained the differences in foliar elemental composition among species. In the same genus co-occurring species had overall higher differences in foliar elemental composition and stoichiometry than the non-co-occurring species.Main conclusionsThe different foliar elemental compositions among species are related to phylogenetic distances, but they are also related to current climatic conditions, forest types, drivers of global change such as atmospheric N deposition, and to differences among co-occurring species as a probable consequence of niche specialization to reduce direct competition for the same resources. Different species have their own ‘fixed’ foliar elemental compositions but retain some degree of plasticity to the current climatic and competitive conditions. A wider set of elements beyond N and P better represent the biogeochemical niche and are highly sensitive to plant function. Foliar elemental composition can thus be useful for representing important aspects of plant species niches.
    Global Ecology and Biogeography. 11/2014;
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    Seminaris del Departament d'Ecologia de la Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona; 10/2014
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    Lise Fivez, Sara Vicca, Ivan A Janssens, Patrick Meire
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    ABSTRACT: Changes in land use, implementation of protective measures and a warming climate have improved the survival rate of geese, resulting in considerable increases in the majority of Western Palaearctic goose populations during recent decades. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study aiming to understand the impact of goose grazing on carbon cycling in their winter habitat. To this end, the impact of goose grazing pressure on biomass, litter decomposition and CO 2 fluxes (net CO 2 exchange partitioned into photosynthesis and ecosystem respiration) was studied in the coastal polders of Belgium, a wintering habitat for geese of international importance. Experimentally manipulated grazing by Anser anser (Greylag Geese) in grassland mimicked four different grazing pressures, including a control treatment from which geese were excluded. We found that grazing pressure by geese has a significant, but variable effect on carbon fluxes during the entire year. In winter, at the end of the grazing season, both plants' carbon assimilation and total ecosystem respiration were decreased with increasing grazing pressure, resulting in less carbon taken up during day time. Total ecosystem respiration was also reduced due to goose grazing in spring and autumn (i.e., outside the grazing season), while no significant difference in ecosystem CO 2 fluxes was detected in summer. These grazing effects on CO 2 fluxes can partly be explained by the effect of goose grazing on standing biomass. Decomposition rates were significantly reduced by higher grazing pressure during the winter season when geese were present, but on the long term grazing accelerated decomposition rates. Our data suggest that the rising numbers of Western Palaearctic breeding geese can alter the carbon balance of their winter habitat. The differences between short-and long-term effects observed in our study demonstrate the complexity of goose grazing effects on carbon cycling and indicate directions for future studies.
    10/2014; 5(10):139.
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    ABSTRACT: Fresh plant litter inputs accelerate soil organic matter (SOM) decomposition through a ubiquitous mechanism called priming. Insufficient priming has been suggested as a stabilization mechanism of SOM at depth, as well as the long-term persistence of some highly degradable organic compounds in soils. Priming therefore plays a crucial, albeit unquantified and commonly neglected, role in the global carbon cycle. Because priming intensity is likely to be altered by global change-induced changes in net primary productivity, it casts substantial uncertainty to future projections of the climate-carbon cycle feedback. Using results from a large field litter manipulation experiment in Mongolian steppe, we here show that priming intensifies with increasing litter inputs, but at a decreasing efficiency: the stimulation per unit litter added declines with increasing litter inputs. This non-linear behavior originates from two antagonistic responses to fresh litter inputs: a stimulation of microbial activity versus a shift in microbial community composition (more fungi) associated to substrate shift from SOM to litter. Despite all complexity, however, the priming effect on SOM decomposition scaled linearly with the response of microbial biomass across the entire range of plant litter addition (60–480 g C m−2), suggesting that priming could be modeled effectively as a function of the response of microbial biomass to litter inputs. Incorporating the priming mechanism in Earth System models will improve their estimates of the SOM-climate feedback and appears to be best addressed by explicitly representing microbial biomass in the models.
    Oikos 10/2014; · 3.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Forests strongly affect climate through the exchange of large amounts of atmospheric CO2. However, the main drivers of spatial variability in net ecosystem production (NEP) on a global scale are poorly known. We present our synthesis study of 92 forests in different climate zones revealing that nutrient availability indeed plays a crucial role in determining NEP and ecosystem carbon-use efficiency [CUEe, i.e. the ratio of NEP to gross primary production (GPP)]. Forests with high GPP exhibited high NEP only in nutrient-rich forests (CUEe = 33 ± 4%; mean ± SE). In nutrient-poor forests, a much larger proportion of GPP was released through ecosystem respiration, resulting in lower CUEe (6 ± 4%). We have also analyzed C-flux time series to check whether GPP, Re and NEP has increased during the last two decades. Our analysis of 23 temperate and boreal forests revealed a strong increase in GPP and NEP from 1992 to 2013, especially important during the first decade. Instead Re has remained rather constant. These increases in GPP and NEP were mostly attributable to the CO2 fertilization effect. However, increasing temperatures and nutrient limitation can constrain the effect of increasing CO2.
    1st ICOS International Conference on Greenhouse Gases and Biogeochemical Cycles, Brussels; 09/2014
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    ABSTRACT: AimAlthough numerous studies have reported advanced Northern Hemisphere spring phenology since the 1980s, recent studies based on remote sensing have reported a reversal or deceleration of this trend. This study aimed (1) to fully understand recent spring phenology shifts using both in situ observations and satellite-based normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) datasets, and (2) to test whether the NDVI methods capture the trends observed in situ.LocationWestern Central Europe.Methods Temporal spring phenology trends (leaf unfolding dates) were examined using 1,001,678 in situ observations of 31 plant species at 3984 stations, as well as NDVI-based start-of-season dates, obtained using five different methods, across the pixels that included the phenology stations.ResultsIn situ and NDVI observations both indicated that spring phenology significantly advanced during the period 1982–2011 at an average rate of −0.45 days yr−1. This trend was not uniform across the period and significantly weakened over the period 2000–2011. Furthermore, opposite trends were found between in situ and NDVI observations over the period 2000–2011. Averaged over all species, the in situ observations indicated a slower but still advancing trend for leaf unfolding, whereas the NDVI series showed a delayed spring phenology.Main conclusionsThe recent trend reversal in the advancement of spring phenology in western Central Europe is likely to be related to the response of early spring species to the cooling trend in late winter. In contrast, late spring species continued to exhibit advanced leaf unfolding, which is consistent with the warming trend during spring months. Because remote sensing does not distinguish between species, the signal of growing-season onset may only reflect the phenological dynamics of these earliest species in the pixel, even though most species still exhibit advancing trends.
    Global Ecology and Biogeography. 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Over the last century the Northern Hemisphere has experienced rapid climate warming, but this warming has not been evenly distributed seasonally, as well as diurnally. The implications of such seasonal and diurnal heterogeneous warming on regional and global vegetation photosynthetic activity, however, are still poorly understood. Here, we investigated for different seasons how photosynthetic activity of vegetation correlates with changes in seasonal daytime and night-time temperature across the Northern Hemisphere (>30°N), using Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data from 1982 to 2011 obtained from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR). Our analysis revealed some striking seasonal differences in the response of NDVI to changes in day- versus night-time temperatures. For instance, while higher daytime temperature (Tmax) is generally associated with higher NDVI values across the boreal zone, the area exhibiting a statistically significant positive correlation between Tmax and NDVI is much larger in spring (41% of area in boreal zone – total area 12.6×106 km2) than in summer and autumn (14% and 9%, respectively). In contrast to the predominantly positive response of boreal ecosystems to changes in Tmax, increases in Tmax tended to negatively influence vegetation growth in temperate dry regions, particularly during summer. Changes in night-time temperature (Tmin) correlated negatively with autumnal NDVI in most of the Northern Hemisphere, but had a positive effect on spring and summer NDVI in most temperate regions (e.g., Central North America and Central Asia). Such divergent covariance between the photosynthetic activity of Northern Hemispheric vegetation and day- and night-time temperature changes among different seasons and climate zones suggests a changing dominance of ecophysiological processes across time and space. Understanding the seasonally different responses of vegetation photosynthetic activity to diurnal temperature changes, which have not been captured by current land surface models, is important for improving the performance of next generation regional and global coupled vegetation-climate models.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Global Change Biology 08/2014; · 8.22 Impact Factor
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    C W Xiao, I A Janssens, Y Zhou, J Q Su, Y Liang, B Guenet
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    ABSTRACT: Global climate change has generally increased net primary production which leads to increasing litter inputs. Therefore assessing the impacts of increasing litter inputs on soil nutrients, plant growth and ecological Carbon (C) : nitrogen (N) : phosphorus (P) stoichiometry is critical for an understanding of C, N and P cycling and their feedback 5 processes to climate change. In this study, we added plant litter to the 10–20 cm subsoil layer under a steppe community at rates equivalent to 0, 150, 300, 600 and 1200 g (dry mass) m −2 and measured the resulting C, N and P content of different pools (above and below ground plant biomass, litter, microbial biomass). High litter addition (120 % of the annual litter inputs) significantly increased soil inorganic N and available P, above-10 ground biomass, belowground biomass and litter. Nevertheless small litter additions, which are more realistic compared to the future predictions, had no effect on the vari-ables examined. Our results suggest that while very high litter addition can strongly affect C : N : P stoichiometry, the grassland studied here is quite resilient to more real-istic inputs in terms of stoichiometric functioning. This result highlights the complexity 15 of the ecosystem's response to climate change.
    07/2014;
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    Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 07/2014; s 192–193:108–120. · 3.89 Impact Factor
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    Dataset: Fig1
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    ABSTRACT: As a key component of the carbon cycle, soil CO2 efflux (SCE) is being increasingly studied to improve our mechanistic understanding of this important carbon flux. Predicting ecosystem responses to climate change often depends on extrapolation of current relationships between ecosystem processes and their climatic drivers to conditions not yet experienced by the ecosystem. This raises the question to what extent these relationships remain unaltered beyond the current climatic window for which observations are available to constrain the relationships. Here, we evaluate whether current responses of SCE to fluctuations in soil temperature and soil water content can be used to predict SCE under altered rainfall patterns. Of the 58 experiments for which we gathered SCE data, 20 were discarded because either too few data were available, or inconsistencies precluded their incorporation in the analyses. The 38 remaining experiments were used to test the hypothesis that a model parameterized with data from the control plots (using soil temperature and water content as predictor variables) could adequately predict SCE measured in the manipulated treatment. Only for seven of these 38 experiments, this hypothesis was rejected. Importantly, these were the experiments with the most reliable datasets, i.e., those providing high-frequency measurements of SCE. Regression tree analysis demonstrated that our hypothesis could be rejected only for experiments with measurement intervals of less than 11 days, and was not rejected for any of the 24 experiments with larger measurement intervals. This highlights the importance of high-frequency measurements when studying effects of altered precipitation on SCE, probably because infrequent measurement schemes have insufficient capacity to detect shifts in the climate-dependencies of SCE. Hence, the most justified answer to the question whether current moisture responses of SCE can be extrapolated to predict SCE under altered precipitation regimes is ‘no’ – as based on the most reliable datasets available. We strongly recommend that future experiments focus more strongly on establishing response functions across a broader range of precipitation regimes and soil moisture conditions. Such experiments should make accurate measurements of water availability, should conduct high-frequency SCE measurements, and should consider both instantaneous responses and the potential legacy effects of climate extremes. This is important, because with the novel approach presented here, we demonstrated that at least for some ecosystems, current moisture responses could not be extrapolated to predict SCE under altered rainfall conditions.
    Biogeosciences 06/2014; 11:2991-3013. · 3.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The traditional view of forest dynamics originated by Kira and Shidei [Kira T, Shidei T (1967) Jap J Ecol 17:70-87] and Odum [Odum EP (1969) Science 164(3877):262-270] suggests a decline in net primary productivity (NPP) in aging forests due to stabilized gross primary productivity (GPP) and continuously increased autotrophic respiration (Ra). The validity of these trends in GPP and Ra is, however, very difficult to test because of the lack of long-term ecosystem-scale field observations of both GPP and Ra. Ryan and colleagues [Ryan MG, Binkley D, Fownes JH (1997) Ad Ecol Res 27:213-262] have proposed an alternative hypothesis drawn from site-specific results that aboveground respiration and belowground allocation decreased in aging forests. Here, we analyzed data from a recently assembled global database of carbon fluxes and show that the classical view of the mechanisms underlying the age-driven decline in forest NPP is incorrect and thus support Ryan's alternative hypothesis. Our results substantiate the age-driven decline in NPP, but in contrast to the traditional view, both GPP and Ra decline in aging boreal and temperate forests. We find that the decline in NPP in aging forests is primarily driven by GPP, which decreases more rapidly with increasing age than Ra does, but the ratio of NPP/GPP remains approximately constant within a biome. Our analytical models describing forest succession suggest that dynamic forest ecosystem models that follow the traditional paradigm need to be revisited.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Recent temperature increases have elicited strong phenological shifts in temperate tree species, with subsequent effects on photosynthesis. Here, we assess the impact of advanced leaf flushing in a winter warming experiment on the current year's senescence and next year's leaf flushing dates in two common tree species: Quercus robur L. and Fagus sylvatica L. Results suggest that earlier leaf flushing translated into earlier senescence, thereby partially offsetting the lengthening of the growing season. Moreover, saplings that were warmed in winter-spring 2009-2010 still exhibited earlier leaf flushing in 2011, even though the saplings had been exposed to similar ambient conditions for almost 1 y. Interestingly, for both species similar trends were found in mature trees using a long-term series of phenological records gathered from various locations in Europe. We hypothesize that this long-term legacy effect is related to an advancement of the endormancy phase (chilling phase) in response to the earlier autumnal senescence. Given the importance of phenology in plant and ecosystem functioning, and the prediction of more frequent extremely warm winters, our observations and postulated underlying mechanisms should be tested in other species.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 05/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Climate changes increasingly threaten plant growth and productivity. Such changes are complex and involve multiple environmental factors, including rising CO2 levels and climate extreme events. As the molecular and physiological mechanisms underlying plant responses to realistic future climate extreme conditions are still poorly understood, a multiple organizational level-analysis (i.e. eco-physiological, biochemical and transcriptional) was performed, using Arabidopsis exposed to incremental heat wave and water deficit under ambient and elevated CO2. The climate extreme resulted in biomass reduction, photosynthesis inhibition, and considerable increases in stress parameters. Photosynthesis was a major target as demonstrated at the physiological and transcriptional levels. In contrast, the climate extreme treatment induced a protective effect on oxidative membrane damage, most likely as a result of strongly increased lipophilic antioxidants and membrane-protecting enzymes. Elevated CO2 significantly mitigated the negative impact of a combined heat and drought, as apparent in biomass reduction, photosynthesis inhibition, chlorophyll fluorescence decline, H2O2 production and protein oxidation. Analysis of enzymatic and molecular antioxidants revealed that the stress-mitigating CO2 effect operates through up-regulation of antioxidant defense metabolism, as well as by reduced photorespiration resulting in lowered oxidative pressure. Therefore, exposure to future climate extreme episodes will negatively impact plant growth and production, but elevated CO2 is likely to mitigate this effect.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Global Change Biology 05/2014; · 8.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Forests strongly affect climate through the exchange of large amounts of atmospheric CO2. The main drivers of spatial variability in net ecosystem production (NEP) on a global scale are, however, poorly known. As increasing nutrient availability increases the production of biomass per unit of photosynthesis and reduces heterotrophic respiration in forests, we expected nutrients to determine carbon sequestration in forests. Our synthesis study of 92 forests in different climate zones revealed that nutrient availability indeed plays a crucial role in determining NEP and ecosystem carbon-use efficiency (CUEe; that is, the ratio of NEP to gross primary production (GPP)). Forests with high GPP exhibited high NEP only in nutrient-rich forests (CUEe = 33 ± 4%; mean ± s.e.m.). In nutrient-poor forests, a much larger proportion of GPP was released through ecosystem respiration, resulting in lower CUEe (6 ± 4%). Our finding that nutrient availability exerts a stronger control on NEP than on carbon input (GPP) conflicts with assumptions of nearly all global coupled carbon cycle–climate models, which assume that carbon inputs through photosynthesis drive biomass production and carbon sequestration. An improved global understanding of nutrient availability would therefore greatly improve carbon cycle modelling and should become a critical focus for future research.
    Nature Climate Change 04/2014; · 14.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Thermal acclimation of soil organic matter (SOM) decomposition is frequently observed and has often been attributed to substrate depletion under warming, but other mechanisms, such as changes in microbial community structure and functioning, have received less attention. In order to determine whether shifts in microbial community structure and functioning are involved in thermal acclimation of SOM decomposition, a laboratory incubation experiment was conducted using an artificial forest soil. Samples were first subjected to different temperatures of 5, 15, and 25 C during a 72-day pre-incubation period and then half of the microcosms from each pre-incubation temperature were incubated at 5 or 25 C for a period of 11 days. Substantial thermal acclimation of SOM decomposition was observed, with the SOM decomposition in soils pre-incubated at higher temperatures being less sensitive to temperature. Along with the reduced temperature sensitivity in response to warming, significant changes in microbial community PLFAs, microbial biomass carbon (MBC), and the potential activities of 11 enzymes were also observed. Nevertheless, shifts in microbial community PLFAs and particular enzyme activities provided the most explanatory power for the decreased temperature sensitivity with warming, as revealed by a multivariate regression analysis. The microbial community structure shifts were mainly manifested as an increase in the relative abundance of Gram-positive bacteria and decreases in the relative abundances of Gram-negative bacteria and fungi. Microbial communities pre-incubated under lower temperatures experienced greater shifts in their structure. Substrate depletion did not occur in this short-term incubation experiment, since neither total organic carbon (TOC) nor dissolved organic carbon (DOC) decreased with increasing temperature. Our results suggest that shifts in microbial community structure and functioning may underlie the thermal acclimation of SOM decomposition and should be taken into account when predicting the response of soil CO 2 efflux to global warming.
    Soil Biology and Biochemistry 04/2014; 71:1-12. · 4.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Lateral transport of carbon plays an important role in linking the carbon cycles of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. There is, however, a lack of information on the factors controlling one of the main C sources of this lateral flux i.e. the concentration of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in soil solution across large spatial scales and under different soil, vegetation and climate conditions. We compiled a database on DOC in soil solution down to 80 cm and analyzed it with the aim, firstly, to quantify the differences in DOC concentrations among terrestrial ecosystems, climate zones, soil and vegetation types at global scale and, secondly, to identify potential determinants of the site-to-site variability of DOC concentration in soil solution across European broadleaved and coniferous forests. We found that DOC concentrations were 75% lower in mineral than in organic soil and temperate sites showed higher DOC concentrations than boreal and tropical sites. The majority of the variation (R2 = 0.67-0.99) in DOC concentrations in mineral European forest soils correlates with NH4+, C/N, Al and Fe as the most important predictors. Overall, our results show that the magnitude (23% lower in broadleaved than in coniferous forests) and the controlling factors of DOC in soil solution differ between forest types, with site productivity being more important in broadleaved forests and water balance in coniferous stands.
    Global Biogeochemical Cycles 04/2014; 28(5):497-509. · 4.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Heat requirement, expressed in growing degree days (GDD), is a widely used method to assess and predict the effect of temperature on plant development. Until recently, the analysis of spatial patterns of GDD requirement for spring vegetation green-up onset was limited to local and regional scales, mainly because of the sparse and aggregated spatial availability of ground phenology data. Taking advantage of the large temporal and spatial scales of remote sensing-based green-up onset data, we studied the spatial patterns of GDD requirement for vegetation green-up at northern-middle and high latitudes. We further explored the correlations between GDD requirement for vegetation green-up and previous winter season chilling temperatures and precipitation, using spatial partial correlations. We showed that GDD requirement for vegetation green-up onset declines towards the north at a mean rate of 18.8 ºC-days per degree latitude between 35ºN and 70ºN, and varies significantly among different vegetation types. Our results confirmed that the GDD requirement for vegetation green-up is negatively correlated with previous winter chilling, which was defined as the number of chilling days from the day when the land surface froze in the previous autumn to the day of green-up onset. This negative correlation is a well-known phenomenon from local studies. Interestingly, irrespective of the vegetation type, we also found a positive correlation between the GDD requirement and previous winter season precipitation, which was defined as the sum of the precipitation of the month when green-up onset occur and the precipitation that occurred during the previous two months. Our study suggests that GDD requirement, chilling and precipitation may have complex interactions in their effects on spring vegetation green-up phenology. These findings have important implications for improving phenology models and could therefore advance our understanding of the interplay between spring phenology and carbon fluxes.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Global Change Biology 04/2014; · 8.22 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

6k Citations
891.03 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2000–2014
    • University of Antwerp
      • Department of Biology
      Antwerpen, Flanders, Belgium
  • 2012
    • Research Institute for Nature and Forest
      Bruxelles, Brussels Capital Region, Belgium
    • Technical University of Denmark
      • Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering
      Copenhagen, Capital Region, Denmark
  • 2011
    • University of Udine
      Udine, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy
  • 2006
    • Woods Hole Research Center
      Falmouth, Massachusetts, United States