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Ecology Letters

Ellen O Aikens, Matthew J Kauffman, Jerod A Merkle, Samantha P H Dwinnell, Gary L Fralick, Kevin L Monteith
The Green Wave Hypothesis posits that herbivore migration manifests in response to waves of spring green-up (i.e. green-wave surfing). Nonetheless, empirical support for the Green Wave Hypothesis is mixed, and a framework for understanding variation in surfing is lacking. In a population of migratory mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), 31% surfed plant phenology in spring as well as a theoretically perfect surfer, and 98% surfed better than random. Green-wave surfing varied among individuals and was unrelated to age or energetic state...
April 25, 2017: Ecology Letters
Daniel Sol, Ignasi Bartomeus, César González-Lagos, Sandrine Pavoine
Despite the recognised conservation value of phylogenetic diversity, little is known about how it is affected by the urbanisation process. Combining a complete avian phylogeny with surveys along urbanisation gradients from five continents, we show that highly urbanised environments supported on average 450 million fewer years of evolutionary history than the surrounding natural environments. This loss was primarily caused by species loss and could have been higher had not been partially compensated by the addition of urban exploiters and some exotic species...
April 24, 2017: Ecology Letters
Phillip P A Staniczenko, Prabu Sivasubramaniam, K Blake Suttle, Richard G Pearson
Macroecological models for predicting species distributions usually only include abiotic environmental conditions as explanatory variables, despite knowledge from community ecology that all species are linked to other species through biotic interactions. This disconnect is largely due to the different spatial scales considered by the two sub-disciplines: macroecologists study patterns at large extents and coarse resolutions, while community ecologists focus on small extents and fine resolutions. A general framework for including biotic interactions in macroecological models would help bridge this divide, as it would allow for rigorous testing of the role that biotic interactions play in determining species ranges...
April 21, 2017: Ecology Letters
Philip G Taylor, Cory C Cleveland, William R Wieder, Benjamin W Sullivan, Christopher E Doughty, Solomon Z Dobrowski, Alan R Townsend
Tropical forests dominate global terrestrial carbon (C) exchange, and recent droughts in the Amazon Basin have contributed to short-term declines in terrestrial carbon dioxide uptake and storage. However, the effects of longer-term climate variability on tropical forest carbon dynamics are still not well understood. We synthesised field data from more than 150 tropical forest sites to explore how climate regulates tropical forest aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP) and organic matter decomposition, and combined those data with two existing databases to explore climate - C relationships globally...
April 17, 2017: Ecology Letters
Kristina M Sefc, Karin Mattersdorfer, Angelika Ziegelbecker, Nina Neuhüttler, Oliver Steiner, Walter Goessler, Stephan Koblmüller
The establishment of hybrid taxa relies on reproductive isolation from the parental forms, typically achieved by ecological differentiation. Here, we present an alternative mechanism, in which shifts in the strength and location of dispersal barriers facilitate diversification by hybridisation. Our case study concerns the highly diverse, stenotopic rock-dwelling cichlids of the African Great Lakes, many of which display geographic colour pattern variation. The littoral habitat of these fish has repeatedly been restructured in the course of ancient lake level fluctuations...
April 6, 2017: Ecology Letters
Maria Natalia Umaña, Caicai Zhang, Min Cao, Luxiang Lin, Nathan G Swenson
Trait-based studies in community ecology have generally focused on the community as a unit where all species occur due to stochasticity, determinism or some mixture of the two. However, the processes governing population dynamics may vary greatly among species. We propose a core-transient framework for trait-based community studies where a core group of species has a strong link to the local environment while transient species have weaker responses to the environment. Consistent with the expectations of the framework, we found that common species exhibit clear linkages between performance and their environment and traits while rare species tend to have weaker or non-significant relationships...
April 3, 2017: Ecology Letters
Trevor J Hefley, Mevin B Hooten, Robin E Russell, Daniel P Walsh, James A Powell
Ecological diffusion is a theory that can be used to understand and forecast spatio-temporal processes such as dispersal, invasion, and the spread of disease. Hierarchical Bayesian modelling provides a framework to make statistical inference and probabilistic forecasts, using mechanistic ecological models. To illustrate, we show how hierarchical Bayesian models of ecological diffusion can be implemented for large data sets that are distributed densely across space and time. The hierarchical Bayesian approach is used to understand and forecast the growth and geographic spread in the prevalence of chronic wasting disease in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)...
March 31, 2017: Ecology Letters
Hannah J Penn, Kacie J Athey, Brian D Lee
A lower diversity of land cover types is purported to decrease arthropod diversity in agroecosystems and is dependent on patterns of land use and fragmentation. Ants, important providers of ecosystem services such as biological control, are susceptible to landscape-level changes. We determined the relationships between land cover diversity and fragmentation on the within-field spatial associations of ants to pests and resulting predation events by combining mapping and molecular tools. Increased land cover diversity and decreased fragmentation increased ant abundance, spatial association to pests and predation...
March 28, 2017: Ecology Letters
Kai Yue, Dario A Fornara, Wanqin Yang, Yan Peng, Changhui Peng, Zelin Liu, Fuzhong Wu
The interactive effects of multiple global change drivers on terrestrial carbon (C) storage remain poorly understood. Here, we synthesise data from 633 published studies to show how the interactive effects of multiple drivers are generally additive (i.e. not differing from the sum of their individual effects) rather than synergistic or antagonistic. We further show that (1) elevated CO2 , warming, N addition, P addition and increased rainfall, all exerted positive individual effects on plant C pools at both single-plant and plant-community levels; (2) plant C pool responses to individual or combined effects of multiple drivers are seldom scale-dependent (i...
March 28, 2017: Ecology Letters
László Zsolt Garamszegi, Anders Pape Møller
Phenotypes vary at multiple hierarchical levels, of which the interspecific variance is the primary focus of phylogenetic comparative studies. However, the evolutionary role of particular within-species variance components (between-population, between- or within-individual variances) remains neglected. Here, we partition the variance in an anti-predator behaviour, flight initiation distance (FID), and assess how its within- and between-population variance are related to life history, distribution, dispersal and habitat ecology...
March 28, 2017: Ecology Letters
Eugene W Schupp, Pedro Jordano, José María Gómez
A core interest in studies of mutualistic interactions is the 'effectiveness' of mutualists in providing benefits to their partners. In plant-animal mutualisms it is widely accepted that the total effect of a mutualist on its partner is estimated as (1) a 'quantity' component multiplied by (2) a 'quality' component, although the meanings of 'effectiveness,' 'quantity,' and 'quality' and which terms are applied to these metrics vary greatly across studies. In addition, a similar quantity × quality = total effect approach has not been applied to other types of mutualisms, although it could be informative...
March 28, 2017: Ecology Letters
Anikó Kovács-Hostyánszki, Anahí Espíndola, Adam J Vanbergen, Josef Settele, Claire Kremen, Lynn V Dicks
Worldwide, human appropriation of ecosystems is disrupting plant-pollinator communities and pollination function through habitat conversion and landscape homogenisation. Conversion to agriculture is destroying and degrading semi-natural ecosystems while conventional land-use intensification (e.g. industrial management of large-scale monocultures with high chemical inputs) homogenises landscape structure and quality. Together, these anthropogenic processes reduce the connectivity of populations and erode floral and nesting resources to undermine pollinator abundance and diversity, and ultimately pollination services...
March 27, 2017: Ecology Letters
Otso Ovaskainen, Gleb Tikhonov, Anna Norberg, F Guillaume Blanchet, Leo Duan, David Dunson, Tomas Roslin, Nerea Abrego
Community ecology aims to understand what factors determine the assembly and dynamics of species assemblages at different spatiotemporal scales. To facilitate the integration between conceptual and statistical approaches in community ecology, we propose Hierarchical Modelling of Species Communities (HMSC) as a general, flexible framework for modern analysis of community data. While non-manipulative data allow for only correlative and not causal inference, this framework facilitates the formulation of data-driven hypotheses regarding the processes that structure communities...
March 20, 2017: Ecology Letters
Bernard Hugueny
A new model of delayed species loss (extinction debt) within isolated communities is applied to a large data set of terrestrial vertebrate assemblages (n = 188) occupying habitat fragments or islands varying greatly in size and age. The model encapsulates previous approaches based on diversity-dependent (DD) extinction rates while allowing for a more flexible treatment of temporal dynamics. Three important results emerge. First, species loss rate slows down with the age of the isolate, a strong and general pattern largely unnoticed so far...
March 16, 2017: Ecology Letters
Sébastien Villéger, Eva Maire, Fabien Leprieur
Sobral et al. (Ecology Letters, 19, 2016, 1091) reported that the loss of bird functional and phylogenetic diversity due to species extinctions was not compensated by exotic species introductions. Here, we demonstrate that the reported changes in biodiversity were underestimated because of methodological pitfalls.
March 10, 2017: Ecology Letters
Eric W Seabloom, Linda Kinkel, Elizabeth T Borer, Yann Hautier, Rebecca A Montgomery, David Tilman
Plant diversity experiments generally find that increased diversity causes increased productivity; however, primary productivity is typically measured in the presence of a diverse food web, including pathogens, mutualists and herbivores. If food web impacts on productivity vary with plant diversity, as predicted by both theoretical and empirical studies, estimates of the effect of plant diversity on productivity may be biased. We experimentally removed arthropods, foliar fungi and soil fungi from the longest-running plant diversity experiment...
March 10, 2017: Ecology Letters
Natasha Tigreros, Rachel H Norris, Eugenia H Wang, Jennifer S Thaler
Theory on condition-dependent risk-taking indicates that when prey are in poor condition, their anti-predator responses should be weak. However, variation in responses resulting from differences in condition is generally considered an incidental by-product of organisms living in a heterogeneous environment. Using Leptinotarsa decemlineata beetles and stinkbug (Podisus maculiventris) predators, we hypothesised that in response to predation risk, parents improve larval nutritional condition and expression of anti-predator responses by promoting intraclutch cannibalism...
March 10, 2017: Ecology Letters
Sofía Carvajal-Endara, Andrew P Hendry, Nancy C Emery, T Jonathan Davies
Remote locations, such as oceanic islands, typically harbour relatively few species, some of which go on to generate endemic radiations. Species colonising these locations tend to be a non-random subset from source communities, which is thought to reflect dispersal limitation. However, non-random colonisation could also result from habitat filtering, whereby only a few continental species can become established. We evaluate the imprints of these processes on the Galápagos flora by analysing a comprehensive regional phylogeny for ~ 39 000 species alongside information on dispersal strategies and climatic suitability...
March 10, 2017: Ecology Letters
Wojciech Uszko, Sebastian Diehl, Göran Englund, Priyanga Amarasekare
We theoretically explore consequences of warming for predator-prey dynamics, broadening previous approaches in three ways: we include beyond-optimal temperatures, predators may have a type III functional response, and prey carrying capacity depends on explicitly modelled resources. Several robust patterns arise. The relationship between prey carrying capacity and temperature can range from near-independence to monotonically declining/increasing to hump-shaped. Predators persist in a U-shaped region in resource supply (=enrichment)-temperature space...
March 7, 2017: Ecology Letters
Jessica Clark, Jennie S Garbutt, Luke McNally, Tom J Little
Fundamental ecological processes, such as extrinsic mortality, determine population age structure. This influences disease spread when individuals of different ages differ in susceptibility or when maternal age determines offspring susceptibility. We show that Daphnia magna offspring born to young mothers are more susceptible than those born to older mothers, and consider this alongside previous observations that susceptibility declines with age in this system. We used a susceptible-infected compartmental model to investigate how age-specific susceptibility and maternal age effects on offspring susceptibility interact with demographic factors affecting disease spread...
March 7, 2017: Ecology Letters
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