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Ecology Letters

Christopher B Anderson
Human activity and land-use change are dramatically altering the sizes, geographical distributions and functioning of biological populations worldwide, with tremendous consequences for human well-being. Yet our ability to measure, monitor and forecast biodiversity change - crucial to addressing it - remains limited. Biodiversity monitoring systems are being developed to improve this capacity by deriving metrics of change from an array of in situ data (e.g. field plots or species occurrence records) and Earth observations (EO; e...
July 13, 2018: Ecology Letters
Rika M W Muhl, Daniel L Roelke, Tamar Zohary, Maria Moustaka-Gouni, Ulrich Sommer, Gábor Borics, Ursula Gaedke, Frances G Withrow, Joydeb Bhattacharyya
Allelopathic species can alter biodiversity. Using simulated assemblages that are characterised by neutrality, lumpy coexistence and intransitivity, we explore relationships between within-assemblage competitive dissimilarities and resistance to allelopathic species. An emergent behaviour from our models is that assemblages are more resistant to allelopathy when members strongly compete exploitatively (high competitive power). We found that neutral assemblages were the most vulnerable to allelopathic species, followed by lumpy and then by intransitive assemblages...
July 11, 2018: Ecology Letters
Wen-Yong Guo, Mark van Kleunen, Marten Winter, Patrick Weigelt, Anke Stein, Simon Pierce, Jan Pergl, Dietmar Moser, Noëlie Maurel, Bernd Lenzner, Holger Kreft, Franz Essl, Wayne Dawson, Petr Pyšek
Determining the factors associated with the naturalization of alien species is a central theme in ecology. Here, we tested the usefulness of a metric for quantifying Grime's seminal concept of adaptive strategies - competitors, stress-tolerators and ruderals (CSR) - to explain plant naturalizations worldwide. Using a global dataset of 3004 vascular plant species, and accounting for phylogenetic relatedness and species' native biomes, we assessed the associations between calculated C-, S- and R-scores and naturalization success for species exhibiting different life forms...
July 5, 2018: Ecology Letters
T M Knight, T-L Ashman, J M Bennett, J H Burns, S Passonneau, J A Steets
Since the launch of Ecology Letters in 1998, the field of Pollination Ecology has changed considerably in its focus. In this review, we discuss the major discoveries across the past two decades. We quantitatively synthesise the frequency by which different concepts and topics appeared in the peer-reviewed literature, as well as the connections between these topics. We then look forward to identify pressing research frontiers and opportunities for additional integration in the future. We find that there has been a shift towards viewing plant-pollinator interactions as networks and towards understanding how global drivers influence the plants, pollinators and the ecosystem service of pollination...
July 3, 2018: Ecology Letters
Catherine H Graham, Ben G Weinstein
Species interactions are fundamental to community dynamics and ecosystem processes. Despite significant progress in describing species interactions, we lack the ability to predict changes in interactions across space and time. We outline a Bayesian approach to separate the probability of species co-occurrence, interaction and detectability in influencing interaction betadiversity. We use a multi-year hummingbird-plant time series, divided into training and testing data, to show that including models of detectability and occurrence improves forecasts of mutualistic interactions...
July 3, 2018: Ecology Letters
Taku Kadoya, Gabriel Gellner, Kevin S McCann
Food web theory suggests that the placement of a weak interaction is critical such that under some conditions even one well-placed weak interaction can stabilise multiple strong interactions. This theory suggests that complex stable webs may be built from pivotal weak interactions such that the removal of even one to a few keystone interactions can have significant cascading impacts on whole system diversity and structure. However, the connection between weak interactions, derived from the theory of modular food web components, and keystone species, derived from empirical results, is not yet well understood...
June 27, 2018: Ecology Letters
Dorothee Hodapp, Elizabeth T Borer, W Stanley Harpole, Eric M Lind, Eric W Seabloom, Peter B Adler, Juan Alberti, Carlos A Arnillas, Jonathan D Bakker, Lori Biederman, Marc Cadotte, Elsa E Cleland, Scott Collins, Philip A Fay, Jennifer Firn, Nicole Hagenah, Yann Hautier, Oscar Iribarne, Johannes M H Knops, Rebecca L McCulley, Andrew MacDougall, Joslin L Moore, John W Morgan, Brent Mortensen, Kimberly J La Pierre, Anita C Risch, Martin Schütz, Pablo Peri, Carly J Stevens, Justin Wright, Helmut Hillebrand
Environmental change can result in substantial shifts in community composition. The associated immigration and extinction events are likely constrained by the spatial distribution of species. Still, studies on environmental change typically quantify biotic responses at single spatial (time series within a single plot) or temporal (spatial beta diversity at single time points) scales, ignoring their potential interdependence. Here, we use data from a global network of grassland experiments to determine how turnover responses to two major forms of environmental change - fertilisation and herbivore loss - are affected by species pool size and spatial compositional heterogeneity...
June 27, 2018: Ecology Letters
Nadiah Pardede Kristensen, Jacob Johansson, Ryan A Chisholm, Henrik G Smith, Hanna Kokko
Local adaptation to rare habitats is difficult due to gene flow, but can occur if the habitat has higher productivity. Differences in offspring phenotypes have attracted little attention in this context. We model a scenario where the rarer habitat improves offspring's later competitive ability - a carryover effect that operates on top of local adaptation to one or the other habitat type. Assuming localised dispersal, so the offspring tend to settle in similar habitat to the natal type, the superior competitive ability of offspring remaining in the rarer habitat hampers immigration from the majority habitat...
June 25, 2018: Ecology Letters
Kevin Frank, Frank-Thorsten Krell, Eleanor M Slade, Elizabeth H Raine, Li Yuen Chiew, Thomas Schmitt, Charles S Vairappan, Philippe Walter, Nico Blüthgen
At the global scale, species diversity is known to strongly increase towards the equator for most taxa. According to theory, a higher resource specificity of consumers facilitates the coexistence of a larger number of species and has been suggested as an explanation for the latitudinal diversity gradient. However, only few studies support the predicted increase in specialisation or even showed opposite results. Surprisingly, analyses for detritivores are still missing. Therefore, we performed an analysis on the degree of trophic specialisation of dung beetles...
June 25, 2018: Ecology Letters
Peter B Adler, Danielle Smull, Karen H Beard, Ryan T Choi, Tucker Furniss, Andrew Kulmatiski, Joan M Meiners, Andrew T Tredennick, Kari E Veblen
Theory predicts that intraspecific competition should be stronger than interspecific competition for any pair of stably coexisting species, yet previous literature reviews found little support for this pattern. We screened over 5400 publications and identified 39 studies that quantified phenomenological intraspecific and interspecific interactions in terrestrial plant communities. Of the 67% of species pairs in which both intra- and interspecific effects were negative (competitive), intraspecific competition was, on average, four to five-fold stronger than interspecific competition...
June 25, 2018: Ecology Letters
Otso Ovaskainen, Ulisses Moliterno de Camargo, Panu Somervuo
Automated audio recording offers a powerful tool for acoustic monitoring schemes of bird, bat, frog and other vocal organisms, but the lack of automated species identification methods has made it difficult to fully utilise such data. We developed Animal Sound Identifier (ASI), a MATLAB software that performs probabilistic classification of species occurrences from field recordings. Unlike most previous approaches, ASI locates training data directly from the field recordings and thus avoids the need of pre-defined reference libraries...
June 25, 2018: Ecology Letters
Shannon K Carter, Daniel Saenz, Volker H W Rudolf
Climate change has changed the phenologies of species worldwide, but it remains unclear how these phenological changes will affect species interactions and the structure of natural communities. Using a novel approach to analyse long-term data of 66 amphibian species pairs across eight communities, we demonstrate that phenological shifts can significantly alter the interaction potential of coexisting competitors. Importantly, these changes in interaction potential were mediated by non-uniform, species-specific shifts in entire phenological distributions and consequently could not be captured by metrics traditionally used to quantify phenological shifts...
June 21, 2018: Ecology Letters
Matthieu Pluntz, Sebastian Le Coz, Nathalie Peyrard, Roger Pradel, Rémi Choquet, Pierre-Olivier Cheptou
In plant ecology, characterising colonisation and extinction in plant metapopulations is challenging due to the non-detectable seed bank that allows plants to emerge after several years of absence. In this study, we used a Hidden Markov Model to characterise seed dormancy, colonisation and germination solely from the presence-absence of standing flora. Applying the model to data from a long-term survey of 38 annual weeds across France, we identified three homogeneous functional groups: (1) species persisting preferentially through spatial colonisation, (2) species persisting preferentially through seed dormancy and (3) a mix of both strategies...
June 21, 2018: Ecology Letters
Ylva Lekberg, James D Bever, Rebecca A Bunn, Ragan M Callaway, Miranda M Hart, Stephanie N Kivlin, John Klironomos, Beau G Larkin, John L Maron, Kurt O Reinhart, Michael Remke, Wim H van der Putten
Plants interact simultaneously with each other and with soil biota, yet the relative importance of competition vs. plant-soil feedback (PSF) on plant performance is poorly understood. Using a meta-analysis of 38 published studies and 150 plant species, we show that effects of interspecific competition (either growing plants with a competitor or singly, or comparing inter- vs. intraspecific competition) and PSF (comparing home vs. away soil, live vs. sterile soil, or control vs. fungicide-treated soil) depended on treatments but were predominantly negative, broadly comparable in magnitude, and additive or synergistic...
June 12, 2018: Ecology Letters
Chuliang Song, Florian Altermatt, Ian Pearse, Serguei Saavedra
Historical contingency broadly refers to the proposition that even random historical events can constrain the ecological and evolutionary pathways of organisms and that of entire communities. Focusing on communities, these pathways can be reflected into specific structural changes within and across trophic levels - how species interact with and affect each other - which has important consequences for species coexistence. Using the registry of the last 2000 years of plant introductions and their novel herbivores encountered in Central Europe, we find that the order of arrival of closely related (but not of distantly related) plant species constrained the structural changes within the trophic level formed by herbivore species across the observation period...
May 29, 2018: Ecology Letters
Yu-Long Zheng, Jean H Burns, Zhi-Yong Liao, Yang-Ping Li, Jie Yang, Ya-Jun Chen, Jiao-Lin Zhang, Yu-Guo Zheng
Biotic resistance may influence invasion success; however, the relative roles of species richness, functional or phylogenetic distance in predicting invasion success are not fully understood. We used biomass fraction of Chromolaena odorata, an invasive species in tropical and subtropical areas, as a measure of 'invasion success' in a series of artificial communities varying in species richness. Communities were constructed using species from Mexico (native range) or China (non-native range). We found strong evidence of biotic resistance: species richness and community biomass were negatively related with invasion success; invader biomass was greater in plant communities from China than from Mexico...
May 28, 2018: Ecology Letters
Daniel Padfield, Angus Buckling, Ruth Warfield, Chris Lowe, Gabriel Yvon-Durocher
Quantifying variation in ecosystem metabolism is critical to predicting the impacts of environmental change on the carbon cycle. We used a metabolic scaling framework to investigate how body size and temperature influence phytoplankton community metabolism. We tested this framework using phytoplankton sampled from an outdoor mesocosm experiment, where communities had been either experimentally warmed (+ 4 °C) for 10 years or left at ambient temperature. Warmed and ambient phytoplankton communities differed substantially in their taxonomic composition and size structure...
May 25, 2018: Ecology Letters
Sun W Kim, Simon P Blomberg, John M Pandolfi
The analysis of functional diversity (FD) has gained increasing importance due to its generality and utility in ecology. In particular, patterns in the spatial distribution and temporal change of FD are being used to predict locations and functional groups that are immediately vulnerable to global changes. A major impediment to the accurate measurement of FD is the pervasiveness of missing data in trait datasets. While such prevalent data gaps can engender misleading inferences in FD analyses, we currently lack any practical guide to handle missing data in trait datasets...
May 25, 2018: Ecology Letters
Dieter Lukas, Tim Clutton-Brock
Studies of eusocial invertebrates regard complex societies as those where there is a clear division of labour and extensive cooperation between breeders and helpers. In contrast, studies of social mammals identify complex societies as those where differentiated social relationships influence access to resources and reproductive opportunities. We show here that, while traits associated with social complexity of the first kind occur in social mammals that live in groups composed of close relatives, traits associated with the complexity of social relationships occur where average kinship between female group members is low...
May 25, 2018: Ecology Letters
Carl Boettiger
Noise, as the term itself suggests, is most often seen a nuisance to ecological insight, a inconvenient reality that must be acknowledged, a haystack that must be stripped away to reveal the processes of interest underneath. Yet despite this well-earned reputation, noise is often interesting in its own right: noise can induce novel phenomena that could not be understood from some underlying deterministic model alone. Nor is all noise the same, and close examination of differences in frequency, colour or magnitude can reveal insights that would otherwise be inaccessible...
May 22, 2018: Ecology Letters
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