Tiankeng: an ideal place for climate warming research on forest ecosystems

  • Gang Yang
  • Changhui PengEmail author
  • Yinzhan LiuEmail author
  • Faqin Dong
International Viewpoint and News


In order to better understand the response of terrestrial ecosystems’ structure and function to climate warming, various field methods need to be explored. Among a series of existing methods, the active open top chamber (OTC) was the only method that has been used in the entire forest ecosystem. However, this method needs rethinking because its high cost and long buffer time during experimental implementation limit its use. A tiankeng, a large steep-walled sinkhole, which has evolved by roof collapse over a large cave chamber, is a natural OTC surrounded by rocks. Tiankengs are uniquely distributed in fragile ecosystems of karst regions, and are ideal study sites for climate warming research on forest ecosystems. Although their inaccessibility and monitoring difficulties are the main drawbacks, unmanned aerial vehicles containing micro robots could help and carry out relevant research tasks in the future.


Forest ecosystem Climate change Karst Tiankeng Global change 



  1. Burke M (2010) Warming increases risk of civil war in Africa. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:E102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. IPCC (2014) Climate change 2014 synthesis reportGoogle Scholar
  3. Liu B, Asseng S, Müller C, Ewert F, Elliott J, Lobell DB, Martre P, Ruane AC, Wallach D, Jones JW (2016) Similar estimates of temperature impacts on global wheat yield by three independent methods. Nat Clim Change 6:1130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Pu G, Lv Y, Xu G, Zeng D, Huang Y (2017) Research progress on Karst Tiankeng ecosystems. Bot Rev 83:5–37. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Shao J, Wang S, Wei C (2006) A conceptual analysis of karst ecosystem fragility. Progress Geogr 25:1–9Google Scholar
  6. Shui W, Chen Y, Wang Y, Zhengan SU, Su Z (2015) Origination, study progress and prospect of karst tiankeng research in China. Acta Geogr Sin 70:431–446Google Scholar
  7. Shui W, Chen YP, Jian XM, Jiang C, Wang QF, Guo PP (2018) Spatial pattern characteristics of plant community in original karst tiankeng: a case study of Zhanyi tiankeng in Yunnan, China. Chin J Appl Ecol 29:1725–1735Google Scholar
  8. Welshofer KB, Zarnetske PL, Lany NK, Thompson LAE (2018) Open top chambers for temperature manipulation in taller stature plant communities. Methods Ecol Evol 9:254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Wieser G, Grams TEE, Matysssek R, Oberhuber W, Gruber A (2015) Soil warming increased whole-tree water use of Pinus cembra at the treeline in the Central Tyrolean Alps. Tree Physiol. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Yang G, Wang M, Chen H, Liu L, Wu N, Zhu D, Tian J, Peng C, Zhu Q, He Y (2017) Responses of CO2 emission and pore water DOC concentration to soil warming and water table drawdown in Zoige Peatlands. Atmos Environ 152:323–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Zhu X, Chen W (2006) Tiankengs in the karst of China. Speleogenesis Evol Karst Aquifers 4:18Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life Science and EngineeringSouthwest University of Science and TechnologyMianyangChina
  2. 2.Center of CEF/ESCER, Department of Biological ScienceUniversity of Quebec at MontrealMontrealCanada
  3. 3.International Joint Research Laboratory for Global Change Ecology, School of Life SciencesHenan UniversityKaifengChina
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Solid Waste Treatment and Resource Recycle, Ministry of EducationSouthwest University of Science and TechnologyMianyangChina

Personalised recommendations