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Ecology Letters

Matthew A Knox, Walter S Andriuzzi, Heather N Buelow, Cristina Takacs-Vesbach, Byron J Adams, Diana H Wall
Altered temperature profiles resulting in increased warming and freeze-thaw cycle (FTC) frequency pose great ecological challenges to organisms in alpine and polar ecosystems. We performed a laboratory microcosm experiment to investigate how temperature variability affects soil bacterial cell numbers, and abundance and traits of soil microfauna (the microbivorous nematode Scottnema lindsayae) from McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. FTCs and constant freezing shifted nematode body size distribution towards large individuals, driven by higher mortality among smaller individuals...
August 10, 2017: Ecology Letters
Briana K Whitaker, Jonathan T Bauer, James D Bever, Keith Clay
Over the past 25 years, the plant-soil feedback (PSF) framework has catalyzed our understanding of how belowground microbiota impact plant fitness and species coexistence. Here, we apply a novel extension of this framework to microbiota associated with aboveground tissues, termed 'plant-phyllosphere feedback (PPFs)'. In parallel greenhouse experiments, rhizosphere and phyllosphere microbiota of con- and heterospecific hosts from four species were independently manipulated. In a third experiment, we tested the combined effects of soil and phyllosphere feedback under field conditions...
July 4, 2017: Ecology Letters
Devin R Leopold, J Paula Wilkie, Ian A Dickie, Robert B Allen, Peter K Buchanan, Tadashi Fukami
Both top-down (grazing) and bottom-up (resource availability) forces can determine the strength of priority effects, or the effects of species arrival history on the structure and function of ecological communities, but their combined influences remain unresolved. To test for such influences, we assembled experimental communities of wood-decomposing fungi using a factorial manipulation of fungivore (Folsomia candida) presence, nitrogen availability, and fungal assembly history. We found interactive effects of all three factors on fungal species composition and wood decomposition 1 year after the fungi were introduced...
July 4, 2017: Ecology Letters
Daniel S Maynard, Thomas W Crowther, Mark A Bradford
The efficiency by which fungi decompose organic matter contributes to the amount of carbon that is retained in biomass vs. lost to the atmosphere as respiration. This carbon use efficiency (CUE) is affected by various abiotic conditions, including temperature and nutrient availability. Theoretically, the physiological costs of interspecific interactions should likewise alter CUE, yet the magnitude of these costs is untested. Here we conduct a microcosm experiment to quantify how interactions among wood-decay basidiomycete fungi alter growth, respiration and CUE across a temperature and nitrogen gradient...
July 4, 2017: Ecology Letters
Benjamin N Sulman, Edward R Brzostek, Chiara Medici, Elena Shevliakova, Duncan N L Menge, Richard P Phillips
Ecosystem carbon (C) balance is hypothesised to be sensitive to the mycorrhizal strategies that plants use to acquire nutrients. To test this idea, we coupled an optimality-based plant nitrogen (N) acquisition model with a microbe-focused soil organic matter (SOM) model. The model accurately predicted rhizosphere processes and C-N dynamics across a gradient of stands varying in their relative abundance of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) and ectomycorrhizal (ECM) trees. When mycorrhizal dominance was switched - ECM trees dominating plots previously occupied by AM trees, and vice versa - legacy effects were apparent, with consequences for both C and N stocks in soil...
July 2, 2017: Ecology Letters
Benjamin G Van Allen, Nick L Rasmussen, Christopher J Dibble, Patrick A Clay, Volker H W Rudolf
Natural ecosystems are shaped along two fundamental axes, space and time, but how biodiversity is partitioned along both axes is not well understood. Here, we show that the relationship between temporal and spatial biodiversity patterns can vary predictably according to habitat characteristics. By quantifying seasonal and annual changes in larval dragonfly communities across a natural predation gradient we demonstrate that variation in the identity of top predator species is associated with systematic differences in spatio-temporal β-diversity patterns, leading to consistent differences in relative partitioning of biodiversity between time and space across habitats...
June 30, 2017: Ecology Letters
Nicolas Alcala, Tania Jenkins, Philippe Christe, Séverine Vuilleumier
Host shifts can cause novel infectious diseases, and is a key process in diversification. Disentangling the effects of host shift vs. those of cospeciation is non-trivial as both can result in phylogenic congruence. We develop a new framework based on network analysis and Approximate Bayesian Computation to quantify host shift and cospeciation rates in host-parasite systems. Our method enables estimation of the expected time to the next host shift or cospeciation event. We then apply it to avian haemosporidian parasite systems and to the pocket gophers-chewing lice system, and demonstrate that both host shift and cospeciation can be reliably estimated by our method...
June 29, 2017: Ecology Letters
Laura E Dee, Michel De Lara, Christopher Costello, Steven D Gaines
Society increasingly focuses on managing nature for the services it provides people rather than for the existence of particular species. How much biodiversity protection would result from this modified focus? Although biodiversity contributes to ecosystem services, the details of which species are critical, and whether they will go functionally extinct in the future, are fraught with uncertainty. Explicitly considering this uncertainty, we develop an analytical framework to determine how much biodiversity protection would arise solely from optimising net value from an ecosystem service...
June 28, 2017: Ecology Letters
Jean P Gibert, Rachel L Allen, Ron J Hruska Iii, John P DeLong
Population dynamics and species persistence are often mediated by species traits. Yet many important traits, like body size, can be set by resource availability and predation risk. Environmentally induced changes in resource levels or predation risk may thus have downstream ecological consequences. Here, we assess whether quantity and type of resources affect the phenotype, the population dynamics, and the susceptibility to predation of a mixotrophic protist through experiments and a model. We show that cell shape, but not size, changes with resource levels and type, and is linked to carrying capacity, thus affecting population dynamics...
June 27, 2017: Ecology Letters
Marc W Cadotte
The ability to explain why multispecies assemblages produce greater biomass compared to monocultures, has been a central goal in the quest to understand biodiversity effects on ecosystem function. Species contributions to ecosystem function can be driven by two processes: niche complementarity and a selection effect that is influenced by fitness (competitive) differences, and both can be approximated with measures of species' traits. It has been hypothesised that fitness differences are associated with few, singular traits while complementarity requires multidimensional trait measures...
June 22, 2017: Ecology Letters
Sally A Bracewell, Emma L Johnston, Graeme F Clark
Theories of species coexistence often describe a trade-off between colonising and competitive abilities. In sessile marine invertebrates, this trade-off can manifest as trends in species distributions relative to the size of isolated patches of substrate. Based on their abilities to find available substrate and competitively exclude neighbours, good colonisers tend to dominate smaller patches, whereas better competitors tend to monopolise larger patches. In theory, species with equivalent colonising and competitive abilities should display similar distributions across patch sizes...
June 21, 2017: Ecology Letters
Frédéric Barraquand, Stilianos Louca, Karen C Abbott, Christina A Cobbold, Flora Cordoleani, Donald L DeAngelis, Bret D Elderd, Jeremy W Fox, Priscilla Greenwood, Frank M Hilker, Dennis L Murray, Christopher R Stieha, Rachel A Taylor, Kelsey Vitense, Gail S K Wolkowicz, Rebecca C Tyson
Population cycling is a widespread phenomenon, observed across a multitude of taxa in both laboratory and natural conditions. Historically, the theory associated with population cycles was tightly linked to pairwise consumer-resource interactions and studied via deterministic models, but current empirical and theoretical research reveals a much richer basis for ecological cycles. Stochasticity and seasonality can modulate or create cyclic behaviour in non-intuitive ways, the high-dimensionality in ecological systems can profoundly influence cycling, and so can demographic structure and eco-evolutionary dynamics...
June 20, 2017: Ecology Letters
Lee Hsiang Liow, Emanuela Di Martino, Malgorzata Krzeminska, Mali Ramsfjell, Seabourne Rust, Paul D Taylor, Kjetil L Voje
Competition is an important biotic interaction that influences survival and reproduction. While competition on ecological timescales has received great attention, little is known about competition on evolutionary timescales. Do competitive abilities change over hundreds of thousands to millions of years? Can we predict competitive outcomes using phenotypic traits? How much do traits that confer competitive advantage and competitive outcomes change? Here we show, using communities of encrusting marine bryozoans spanning more than 2 million years, that size is a significant determinant of overgrowth outcomes: colonies with larger zooids tend to overgrow colonies with smaller zooids...
June 14, 2017: Ecology Letters
Anna M Csergő, Roberto Salguero-Gómez, Olivier Broennimann, Shaun R Coutts, Antoine Guisan, Amy L Angert, Erik Welk, Iain Stott, Brian J Enquist, Brian McGill, Jens-Christian Svenning, Cyrille Violle, Yvonne M Buckley
Correlative species distribution models are based on the observed relationship between species' occurrence and macroclimate or other environmental variables. In climates predicted less favourable populations are expected to decline, and in favourable climates they are expected to persist. However, little comparative empirical support exists for a relationship between predicted climate suitability and population performance. We found that the performance of 93 populations of 34 plant species worldwide - as measured by in situ population growth rate, its temporal variation and extinction risk - was not correlated with climate suitability...
June 13, 2017: Ecology Letters
Andrew T Tredennick, Peter B Adler, Frederick R Adler
Theory relating species richness to ecosystem variability typically ignores the potential for environmental variability to promote species coexistence. Failure to account for fluctuation-dependent coexistence may explain deviations from the expected negative diversity-ecosystem variability relationship, and limits our ability to predict the consequences of increases in environmental variability. We use a consumer-resource model to explore how coexistence via the temporal storage effect and relative nonlinearity affects ecosystem variability...
June 9, 2017: Ecology Letters
Stav Livne-Luzon, Ofer Ovadia, Gil Weber, Yael Avidan, Hen Migael, Sydney I Glassman, Thomas D Bruns, Hagai Shemesh
The effects of spatial heterogeneity in negative biological interactions on individual performance and species diversity have been studied extensively. However, little is known about the respective effects involving positive biological interactions, including the symbiosis between plants and ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi. Using a greenhouse bioassay, we explored how spatial heterogeneity of natural soil inoculum influences the performance of pine seedlings and composition of their root-associated EM fungi. When the inoculum was homogenously distributed, a single EM fungal taxon dominated the roots of most pine seedlings, reducing the diversity of EM fungi at the treatment level, while substantially improving pine seedling performance...
September 2017: Ecology Letters
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No abstract text is available yet for this article.
September 2017: Ecology Letters
Stefano Manzoni, Petr Čapek, Maria Mooshammer, Björn D Lindahl, Andreas Richter, Hana Šantrůčková
Most heterotrophic organisms feed on substrates that are poor in nutrients compared to their demand, leading to elemental imbalances that may constrain their growth and function. Flexible carbon (C)-use efficiency (CUE, C used for growth over C taken up) can represent a strategy to reduce elemental imbalances. Here, we argue that metabolic regulation has evolved to maximise the organism growth rate along gradients of nutrient availability and translated this assumption into an optimality model that links CUE to substrate and organism stoichiometry...
September 2017: Ecology Letters
Mark Q Wilber, Roland A Knapp, Mary Toothman, Cheryl J Briggs
While disease-induced extinction is generally considered rare, a number of recently emerging infectious diseases with load-dependent pathology have led to extinction in wildlife populations. Transmission is a critical factor affecting disease-induced extinction, but the relative importance of transmission compared to load-dependent host resistance and tolerance is currently unknown. Using a combination of models and experiments on an amphibian species suffering extirpations from the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), we show that while transmission from an environmental Bd reservoir increased the ability of Bd to invade an amphibian population and the extinction risk of that population, Bd-induced extinction dynamics were far more sensitive to host resistance and tolerance than to Bd transmission...
September 2017: Ecology Letters
Teresa J Clark, Colleen A Friel, Emily Grman, Yair Shachar-Hill, Maren L Friesen
Nutritional mutualisms are ancient, widespread, and profoundly influential in biological communities and ecosystems. Although much is known about these interactions, comprehensive answers to fundamental questions, such as how resource availability and structured interactions influence mutualism persistence, are still lacking. Mathematical modelling of nutritional mutualisms has great potential to facilitate the search for comprehensive answers to these and other fundamental questions by connecting the physiological and genomic underpinnings of mutualisms with ecological and evolutionary processes...
September 2017: Ecology Letters
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