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ecosystem collapse

Bryony A Caswell, Christopher L J Frid
Global warming during the Early Jurassic, and associated widespread ocean deoxygenation, was comparable in scale with the changes projected for the next century. This study quantifies the impact of severe global environmental change on the biological traits of marine communities that define the ecological roles and functions they deliver. We document centennial-millennial variability in the biological trait composition of Early Jurassic (Toarcian) seafloor communities and examine how this changed during the event using biological traits analysis...
October 18, 2016: Oecologia
André P Antunes, Rachel M Fewster, Eduardo M Venticinque, Carlos A Peres, Taal Levi, Fabio Rohe, Glenn H Shepard
The Amazon basin is the largest and most species-rich tropical forest and river system in the world, playing a pivotal role in global climate regulation and harboring hundreds of traditional and indigenous cultures. It is a matter of intense debate whether the ecosystem is threatened by hunting practices, whereby an "empty forest" loses critical ecological functions. Strikingly, no previous study has examined Amazonian ecosystem resilience through the perspective of the massive 20th century international trade in furs and skins...
October 2016: Science Advances
Yoshitomo Kikuchi, Akiyo Tada, Dmitry L Musolin, Nobuhiro Hari, Takahiro Hosokawa, Kenji Fujisaki, Takema Fukatsu
: Global warming impacts diverse organisms not only directly but also indirectly via other organisms with which they interact. Recently, the possibility that elevated temperatures resulting from global warming may substantially affect biodiversity through disrupting mutualistic/parasitic associations has been highlighted. Here we report an experimental demonstration that global warming can affect a pest insect via suppression of its obligate bacterial symbiont. The southern green stinkbug Nezara viridula depends on a specific gut bacterium for its normal growth and survival...
October 4, 2016: MBio
Jacqueline Codron, Jennifer Botha-Brink, Daryl Codron, Adam K Huttenlocker, Kenneth D Angielczyk
Unlike modern mammalian communities, terrestrial Paleozoic and Mesozoic vertebrate systems were characterized by carnivore faunas that were as diverse as their herbivore faunas. The comparatively narrow food base available to carnivores in these paleosystems raises the possibility that predator-prey interactions contributed to unstable ecosystems by driving populations to extinction. Here we develop a model of predator-prey interactions based on diversity, abundance, and body size patterns observed in the Permo-Triassic vertebrate fossil record of the Karoo Basin, South Africa...
October 1, 2016: Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Andrey V Tchabovsky, Ludmila E Savinetskaya, Elena N Surkova, Natalia L Ovchinnikova, Ivan A Kshnyasev
Theory predicts that due to their resilience, ecosystems and populations are expected to respond to environmental changes not gradually, but in a nonlinear way with sudden abrupt shifts. However, it is not easy to observe and predict the state-and-transition dynamics in the real world because of time lags between exogenous perturbations and species response. Based on yearly surveys, during 21 years (1994-2014), we have studied population dynamics of a desert rodent (the midday gerbil, Meriones meridianus) in the rangelands of southern Russia under landscape change from desert to steppe caused by the drastic reduction of livestock after the collapse of the USSR in the early 1990s...
December 2016: Oecologia
Lauren Jarvis, Kevin McCann, Tyler Tunney, Gabriel Gellner, John M Fryxell
Earth's surface temperatures are projected to increase by ~1-4°C over the next century, threatening the future of global biodiversity and ecosystem stability. While this has fueled major progress in the field of physiological trait responses to warming, it is currently unclear whether routine population monitoring data can be used to predict temperature-induced population collapse. Here, we integrate trait performance theory with that of critical tipping points to test whether early warning signals can be reliably used to anticipate thermally induced extinction events...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Georgi M Daskalov, Laura Boicenco, Alexandre N Grishin, Luminita Lazar, Vesselina Mihneva, Vladislav A Shlyakhov, Mustafa Zengin
By the late 20th century, a series of events or 'natural experiments', for example the depletion of apex predators, extreme eutrophication and blooms of invasive species, had suggested that the Black Sea could be considered as a large ecosystem 'laboratory'. The events resulted in regime shifts cascading through all trophic levels, disturbing ecosystem functioning and damaging the water environment. Causal pathways by which the external (hydroclimate, overfishing) and internal (food web interactions) drivers provoke regime shifts are investigated...
September 19, 2016: Global Change Biology
Eric Harvey, Isabelle Gounand, Pravin Ganesanandamoorthy, Florian Altermatt
Ecosystems are linked to neighbouring ecosystems not only by dispersal, but also by the movement of subsidy. Such subsidy couplings between ecosystems have important landscape-scale implications because perturbations in one ecosystem may affect community structure and functioning in neighbouring ecosystems via increased/decreased subsidies. Here, we combine a general theoretical approach based on harvesting theory and a two-patch protist meta-ecosystem experiment to test the effect of regional perturbations on local community dynamics...
September 14, 2016: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
S Hetzinger, M Pfeiffer, W-Chr Dullo, J Zinke, D Garbe-Schönberg
Coral reefs are biologically diverse ecosystems threatened with effective collapse under rapid climate change, in particular by recent increases in ocean temperatures. Coral bleaching has occurred during major El Niño warming events, at times leading to the die-off of entire coral reefs. Here we present records of stable isotopic composition, Sr/Ca ratios and extension rate (1940-2004) in coral aragonite from a northern Venezuelan site, where reefs were strongly impacted by bleaching following the 1997-98 El Niño...
2016: Scientific Reports
Kendra L Chritz, Scott A Blumenthal, Thure E Cerling, Hans Klingel
Megaherbivores (>1000 kg) are critical for ecosystem health and function, but face population collapse and extinction globally. The future of these megaherbivore-impoverished ecosystems is difficult to predict, though many studies have demonstrated increasing representation of C3 woody plants. These studies rely on direct observational data, however, and tools for assessing decadal-scale changes in African ecology without observation are lacking. We use isotopic records of historical common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) canines to quantify herbaceous vegetation change in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda following a period of civil unrest and poaching...
2016: Scientific Reports
D Smyth, I Al-Maslamani, M Chatting, B Giraldes
The study aimed to confirm the presence of historic oyster banks of Qatar and code the biotopes present. The research also collated historical records and scientific publications to create a timeline of fishery activity. The oyster banks where once an extremely productive economic resource however, intense overfishing, extreme environmental conditions and anthropogenic impacts caused a fishery collapse. The timeline highlighted the vulnerability of ecosystem engineering bivalves if overexploited. The current status of the oyster banks meant only one site could be described as oyster dominant...
September 7, 2016: Marine Pollution Bulletin
Donghyun Kim, Yong Il Lee, Kiseong Hyeong, Chan Min Yoo
The appearance and expansion of C4 plants in the Late Cenozoic was a dramatic example of terrestrial ecological change. The fire hypothesis, which suggests fire as a major cause of C4 grassland is gaining support, yet a more detailed relationship between fire and vegetation-type change remains unresolved. We report the content and stable carbon isotope record of black carbon (BC) in a sediment core retrieved from the northeastern equatorial Pacific that covers the past 14.3 million years. The content record of BC suggests the development process of a flammable ecosystem...
2016: Scientific Reports
Robert G Evans
Some species are more equal than others. Robert T. Paine (American ecologist, 1933-2016) discovered that if you remove starfish - what he called a "keystone species" - from a tide pool, the complex ecosystem collapses. Without the predator starfish, mussels choke out other animals and plants. This phenomenon is general. Sea otters eat the sea urchins that eat the kelp that provides food and habitat for other species. On the vast Serengeti plains, wildebeest "mow" the grass, protecting habitat for many other species...
August 2016: Healthcare Policy, Politiques de Santé
Sean S Downey, W Randall Haas, Stephen J Shennan
Ecosystems on the verge of major reorganization-regime shift-may exhibit declining resilience, which can be detected using a collection of generic statistical tests known as early warning signals (EWSs). This study explores whether EWSs anticipated human population collapse during the European Neolithic. It analyzes recent reconstructions of European Neolithic (8-4 kya) population trends that reveal regime shifts from a period of rapid growth following the introduction of agriculture to a period of instability and collapse...
August 30, 2016: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Tim A Hoek, Kevin Axelrod, Tommaso Biancalani, Eugene A Yurtsev, Jinghui Liu, Jeff Gore
Mutualisms between species play an important role in ecosystem function and stability. However, in some environments, the competitive aspects of an interaction may dominate the mutualistic aspects. Although these transitions could have far-reaching implications, it has been difficult to study the causes and consequences of this mutualistic-competitive transition in experimentally tractable systems. Here, we study a microbial cross-feeding mutualism in which each yeast strain supplies an essential amino acid for its partner strain...
August 2016: PLoS Biology
Maureen D Correll, Whitney A Wiest, Thomas P Hodgman, W Gregory Shriver, Chris S Elphick, Brian J McGill, Kathleen M O'Brien, Brian J Olsen
Coastal marshes are one of the world's most productive ecosystem's. Consequently, they have been heavily used by humans for centuries, resulting in ecosystem loss. Direct human modifications such as road crossings and ditches and climatic stressors such as sea-level rise and extreme storm events have the potential to further degrade the quantity and quality of marsh along coastlines. We used an 18-year marsh-bird database to generate population trends for 5 avian species (Rallus crepitans, Tringa semipalmata semipalmata, Ammodramus nelsonii subvirgatus, Ammodramus caudacutus, and Ammodramus maritimus) that breed almost exclusively in tidal marshes, and are potentially vulnerable to marsh degradation and loss as a result of anthropogenic change...
August 19, 2016: Conservation Biology: the Journal of the Society for Conservation Biology
Mark Trinder, Tim W McDowell, Brendan A Daisley, Sohrab N Ali, Hon S Leong, Mark W Sumarah, Gregor Reid
: Organophosphate pesticides used in agriculture can pose health risks to humans and wildlife. We hypothesized that dietary supplementation with Lactobacillus, a genus of commensal bacteria, would reduce absorption and toxicity of consumed organophosphate pesticides (parathion and chlorpyrifos [CP]). Several Lactobacillus species were screened for toleration of 100 ppm of CP or parathion in MRS broth based on 24-h growth curves. Certain Lactobacillus strains were unable to reach stationary-phase culture maxima and displayed an abnormal culture morphology in response to pesticide...
October 15, 2016: Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Giovanni Strona, Kevin D Lafferty
Complex ecological networks appear robust to primary extinctions, possibly due to consumers' tendency to specialize on dependable (available and persistent) resources. However, modifications to the conditions under which the network has evolved might alter resource dependability. Here, we ask whether adaptation to historical conditions can increase community robustness, and whether such robustness can protect communities from collapse when conditions change. Using artificial life simulations, we first evolved digital consumer-resource networks that we subsequently subjected to rapid environmental change...
2016: Nature Communications
H J R Lenders, T P M Chamuleau, A J Hendriks, R C G M Lauwerier, R S E W Leuven, W C E P Verberk
The collapse of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) stocks throughout North-Western Europe is generally ascribed to large-scale river regulation, water pollution and over-fishing in the 19(th) and 20(th) century. However, other causes have rarely been quantified, especially those acting before the 19(th) century. By analysing historical fishery, market and tax statistics, independently confirmed by archaeozoological records, we demonstrate that populations declined by up to 90% during the transitional period between the Early Middle Ages (c...
2016: Scientific Reports
Andrew Berdahl, Anieke van Leeuwen, Simon A Levin, Colin J Torney
BACKGROUND: Mass migrations are among the most striking examples of animal movement in the natural world. Such migrations are major drivers of ecosystem processes and strongly influence the survival and fecundity of individuals. For migratory animals, a formidable challenge is to find their way over long distances and through complex, dynamic environments. However, recent theoretical and empirical work suggests that by traveling in groups, individuals are able to overcome these challenges and increase their ability to navigate...
2016: Movement Ecology
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