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Ecology Letters

Teera Watcharamongkol, Pascal-Antoine Christin, Colin P Osborne
C4 photosynthesis is considered an adaptation to warm climates, where its functional benefits are greatest and C4 plants achieve their highest diversity and dominance. However, whether inherent physiological barriers impede the persistence of C4 species in cool environments remains debated. Here, we use large grass phylogenetic and geographical distribution data sets to test whether (1) temperature influences the rate of C4 origins, (2) photosynthetic types affect the rate of migration among climatic zones, and (3) C4 evolution changes the breadth of the temperature niche...
January 10, 2018: Ecology Letters
Douglas J McCauley, Gabriel Gellner, Neo D Martinez, Richard J Williams, Stuart A Sandin, Fiorenza Micheli, Peter J Mumby, Kevin S McCann
Classically, biomass partitioning across trophic levels was thought to add up to a pyramidal distribution. Numerous exceptions have, however, been noted including complete pyramidal inversions. Elevated levels of biomass top-heaviness (i.e. high consumer/resource biomass ratios) have been reported from Arctic tundra communities to Brazilian phytotelmata, and in species assemblages as diverse as those dominated by sharks and ants. We highlight two major pathways for creating top-heaviness, via: (1) endogenous channels that enhance energy transfer across trophic boundaries within a community and (2) exogenous pathways that transfer energy into communities from across spatial and temporal boundaries...
January 9, 2018: Ecology Letters
James D McLaren, Jeffrey J Buler, Tim Schreckengost, Jaclyn A Smolinsky, Matthew Boone, E Emiel van Loon, Deanna K Dawson, Eric L Walters
With many of the world's migratory bird populations in alarming decline, broad-scale assessments of responses to migratory hazards may prove crucial to successful conservation efforts. Most birds migrate at night through increasingly light-polluted skies. Bright light sources can attract airborne migrants and lead to collisions with structures, but might also influence selection of migratory stopover habitat and thereby acquisition of food resources. We demonstrate, using multi-year weather radar measurements of nocturnal migrants across the northeastern U...
January 9, 2018: Ecology Letters
Timothy M Davidson, Andrew H Altieri, Gregory M Ruiz, Mark E Torchin
Bioerosion, the breakdown of hard substrata by organisms, is a fundamental and widespread ecological process that can alter habitat structure, biodiversity and biogeochemical cycling. Bioerosion occurs in all biomes of the world from the ocean floor to arid deserts, and involves a wide diversity of taxa and mechanisms with varying ecological effects. Many abiotic and biotic factors affect bioerosion by acting on the bioeroder, substratum, or both. Bioerosion also has socio-economic impacts when objects of economic or cultural value such as coastal defences or monuments are damaged...
January 4, 2018: Ecology Letters
Orpheus M Butler, James J Elser, Tom Lewis, Brendan Mackey, Chengrong Chen
The biogeochemical and stoichiometric signature of vegetation fire may influence post-fire ecosystem characteristics and the evolution of plant 'fire traits'. Phosphorus (P), a potentially limiting nutrient in many fire-prone environments, might be particularly important in this context; however, the effects of fire on P cycling often vary widely. We conducted a global-scale meta-analysis using data from 174 soil studies and 39 litter studies, and found that fire led to significantly higher concentrations of soil mineral P as well as significantly lower soil and litter carbon:P and nitrogen:P ratios...
January 4, 2018: Ecology Letters
A Justin Nowakowski, James I Watling, Michelle E Thompson, George A Brusch, Alessandro Catenazzi, Steven M Whitfield, David J Kurz, Ángela Suárez-Mayorga, Andrés Aponte-Gutiérrez, Maureen A Donnelly, Brian D Todd
Human activities often replace native forests with warmer, modified habitats that represent novel thermal environments for biodiversity. Reducing biodiversity loss hinges upon identifying which species are most sensitive to the environmental conditions that result from habitat modification. Drawing on case studies and a meta-analysis, we examined whether observed and modelled thermal traits, including heat tolerances, variation in body temperatures, and evaporative water loss, explained variation in sensitivity of ectotherms to habitat modification...
January 4, 2018: Ecology Letters
Moreno Di Marco, James E M Watson, David J Currie, Hugh P Possingham, Oscar Venter
Protecting biomass carbon stocks to mitigate climate change has direct implications for biodiversity conservation. Yet, evidence that a positive association exists between carbon density and species richness is contrasting. Here, we test how this association varies (1) across spatial extents and (2) as a function of how strongly carbon and species richness depend on environmental variables. We found the correlation weakens when moving from larger extents, e.g. realms, to narrower extents, e.g. ecoregions. For ecoregions, a positive correlation emerges when both species richness and carbon density vary as functions of the same environmental variables (climate, soil, elevation)...
January 4, 2018: Ecology Letters
Benjamin W Abbott, Gérard Gruau, Jay P Zarnetske, Florentina Moatar, Lou Barbe, Zahra Thomas, Ophélie Fovet, Tamara Kolbe, Sen Gu, Anne-Catherine Pierson-Wickmann, Philippe Davy, Gilles Pinay
Understanding how water and solutes enter and propagate through freshwater landscapes in the Anthropocene is critical to protecting and restoring aquatic ecosystems and ensuring human water security. However, high hydrochemical variability in headwater streams, where most carbon and nutrients enter river networks, has hindered effective modelling and management. We developed an analytical framework informed by landscape ecology and catchment hydrology to quantify spatiotemporal variability across scales, which we tested in 56 headwater catchments, sampled periodically over 12 years in western France...
December 28, 2017: Ecology Letters
Wayne M Getz, Charles R Marshall, Colin J Carlson, Luca Giuggioli, Sadie J Ryan, Stephanie S Romañach, Carl Boettiger, Samuel D Chamberlain, Laurel Larsen, Paolo D'Odorico, David O'Sullivan
Critical evaluation of the adequacy of ecological models is urgently needed to enhance their utility in developing theory and enabling environmental managers and policymakers to make informed decisions. Poorly supported management can have detrimental, costly or irreversible impacts on the environment and society. Here, we examine common issues in ecological modelling and suggest criteria for improving modelling frameworks. An appropriate level of process description is crucial to constructing the best possible model, given the available data and understanding of ecological structures...
December 27, 2017: Ecology Letters
Katherine H Bannar-Martin, Colin T Kremer, Morgan Ernest, Mathew A Leibold, Harald Auge, Jonathan Chase, Steven A J Declerck, Nico Eisenhauer, Stanley Harpole, Helmut Hillebrand, Forest Isbell, Thomas Koffel, Stefano Larsen, Anita Narwani, Jana S Petermann, Christiane Roscher, Juliano Sarmento Cabral, Sarah R Supp
The research of a generation of ecologists was catalysed by the recognition that the number and identity of species in communities influences the functioning of ecosystems. The relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) is most often examined by controlling species richness and randomising community composition. In natural systems, biodiversity changes are often part of a bigger community assembly dynamic. Therefore, focusing on community assembly and the functioning of ecosystems (CAFE), by integrating both species richness and composition through species gains, losses and changes in abundance, will better reveal how community changes affect ecosystem function...
December 27, 2017: Ecology Letters
Maria Paniw, Arpat Ozgul, Roberto Salguero-Gómez
Temporal autocorrelation in demographic processes is an important aspect of population dynamics, but a comprehensive examination of its effects on different life-history strategies is lacking. We use matrix population models from 454 plant and animal populations to simulate stochastic population growth rates (log λs ) under different temporal autocorrelations in demographic rates, using simulated and observed covariation among rates. We then test for differences in sensitivities, or changes of log λs to changes in autocorrelation among two major axes of life-history strategies, obtained from phylogenetically informed principal component analysis: the fast-slow and reproductive-strategy continua...
December 20, 2017: Ecology Letters
Matthew J Silk, Nicola L Weber, Lucy C Steward, David J Hodgson, Mike Boots, Darren P Croft, Richard J Delahay, Robbie A McDonald
Contact networks are fundamental to the transmission of infection and host sex often affects the acquisition and progression of infection. However, the epidemiological impacts of sex-related variation in animal contact networks have rarely been investigated. We test the hypothesis that sex-biases in infection are related to variation in multilayer contact networks structured by sex in a population of European badgers Meles meles naturally infected with Mycobacterium bovis. Our key results are that male-male and between-sex networks are structured at broader spatial scales than female-female networks and that in male-male and between-sex contact networks, but not female-female networks, there is a significant relationship between infection and contacts with individuals in other groups...
December 20, 2017: Ecology Letters
Sonya K Auer, Graeme J Anderson, Simon McKelvey, Ronald D Bassar, Darryl McLennan, John D Armstrong, Keith H Nislow, Helen K Downie, Lynn McKelvey, Thomas A J Morgan, Karine Salin, Danielle L Orrell, Alice Gauthey, Thomas C Reid, Neil B Metcalfe
Organisms can modify their surrounding environment, but whether these changes are large enough to feed back and alter their evolutionary trajectories is not well understood, particularly in wild populations. Here we show that nutrient pulses from decomposing Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) parents alter selection pressures on their offspring with important consequences for their phenotypic and genetic diversity. We found a strong survival advantage to larger eggs and faster juvenile metabolic rates in streams lacking carcasses but not in streams containing this parental nutrient input...
December 15, 2017: Ecology Letters
Kotaro Kagawa, Gaku Takimoto
Understanding the mechanisms of rapid adaptive radiation has been a central problem of evolutionary ecology. Recently, there is a growing recognition that hybridization between different evolutionary lineages can facilitate adaptive radiation by creating novel phenotypes. Yet, theoretical plausibility of this hypothesis remains unclear because, for example, hybridization can negate pre-existing species richness. Here, we theoretically investigate whether and under what conditions hybridization promotes ecological speciation and adaptive radiation using an individual-based model to simulate genome evolution following hybridization between two allopatrically evolved lineages...
December 14, 2017: Ecology Letters
Camille S Stevens-Rumann, Kerry B Kemp, Philip E Higuera, Brian J Harvey, Monica T Rother, Daniel C Donato, Penelope Morgan, Thomas T Veblen
Forest resilience to climate change is a global concern given the potential effects of increased disturbance activity, warming temperatures and increased moisture stress on plants. We used a multi-regional dataset of 1485 sites across 52 wildfires from the US Rocky Mountains to ask if and how changing climate over the last several decades impacted post-fire tree regeneration, a key indicator of forest resilience. Results highlight significant decreases in tree regeneration in the 21st century. Annual moisture deficits were significantly greater from 2000 to 2015 as compared to 1985-1999, suggesting increasingly unfavourable post-fire growing conditions, corresponding to significantly lower seedling densities and increased regeneration failure...
December 12, 2017: Ecology Letters
Katrien Van Petegem, Felix Moerman, Maxime Dahirel, Emanuel A Fronhofer, Martijn L Vandegehuchte, Thomas Van Leeuwen, Nicky Wybouw, Robby Stoks, Dries Bonte
With ongoing global change, life is continuously forced to move to novel areas, which leads to dynamically changing species ranges. As dispersal is central to range dynamics, factors promoting fast and distant dispersal are key to understanding and predicting species ranges. During range expansions, genetic variation is depleted at the expanding front. Such conditions should reduce evolutionary potential, while increasing kin competition. Organisms able to recognise relatives may be able to assess increased levels of relatedness at expanding range margins and to increase their dispersal in a plastic manner...
December 11, 2017: Ecology Letters
Robert M Griffin, Adam D Hayward, Elisabeth Bolund, Alexei A Maklakov, Virpi Lummaa
Variation in sex differences is affected by both genetic and environmental variation, with rapid change in sex differences being more likely due to environmental change. One case of rapid change in sex differences is human lifespan, which has become increasingly female-biased in recent centuries. Long-term consequences of variation in the early-life environment may, in part, explain such variation in sex differences, but whether the early-life environment mediates sex differences in life-history traits is poorly understood in animals...
December 5, 2017: Ecology Letters
Cristina Rodríguez-Nevado, Tommy T-Y Lam, Edward C Holmes, Israel Pagán
Accumulating evidence indicates that biodiversity has an important impact on parasite evolution and emergence. The vast majority of studies in this area have only considered the diversity of species within an environment as an overall measure of biodiversity, overlooking the role of genetic diversity within a particular host species. Although theoretical models propose that host genetic diversity in part shapes that of the infecting parasite population, and hence modulates the risk of parasite emergence, this effect has seldom been tested empirically...
December 5, 2017: Ecology Letters
Jotaro Urabe, Yuichiro Shimizu, Toshiyasu Yamaguchi
Ecological stoichiometry suggests that herbivore growth is limited by phosphorus when this element in the diet is < 8.6 μg P mg C-1 (C : P atomic ratio > 300). However, in nature, it is not necessarily related to the relative phosphorus content in diets. This may be the result of complex feeding and assimilation responses to diets. We examined these possibilities using herbivorous plankton fed mono-specific and mixed algae varying in phosphorus content of 1.6 to 8.1 μg P mg C-1 . The herbivores showed a 10-fold growth rate difference among the diets...
December 5, 2017: Ecology Letters
Santiago Saura
Zamborain-Mason et al. (Ecol. Lett., 20, 2017, 815-831) state that they have newly proposed network metrics that account for node self-connections. Network metrics incorporating node self-connections, also referred to as intranode (intrapatch) connectivity, were however already proposed before and have been widely used in a variety of conservation planning applications.
December 1, 2017: Ecology Letters
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