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21 Nov 2018 at 01:39
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Bibliography on: Long Term Ecological Research


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Long Term Ecological Research

The LTER Network: The US. long-term ecological research network consists of 28 sites with a rich history of ecological inquiry, collaboration across a wide range of research topics, and engagement with students, educators, and community members. Bringing together diverse groups of researchers with sustained data collection, ecosystem manipulation experiments, and modeling, these sites allow scientists to apply new tools and explore new questions in systems where the context is well understood, shared, and thoroughly documented.

Created with PubMed® Query: "Long Term Ecological Research" OR LTER NOT pmcbook NOT ispreviousversion

Citations The Papers (from PubMed®)

RevDate: 2018-11-20

Battisti C, Kroha S, Kozhuharova E, et al (2018)

Fishing lines and fish hooks as neglected marine litter: first data on chemical composition, densities, and biological entrapment from a Mediterranean beach.

Environmental science and pollution research international pii:10.1007/s11356-018-3753-9 [Epub ahead of print].

We reported first data on the densities and chemical composition of fishing lines and fish hooks deposited on a Mediterranean beach. On a sampling area of 1.5 ha, we removed a total of 185,028 cm of fishing lines (density 12.34 cm/m2) and 33 hooks (density 22 units/ha). Totally, 637.62 g (42.5 mg/m2) of fishing lines were collected. We sampled 120 items entangled belongings to 7 animal taxa (density 6.49 items/100 m of fishing lines). We also observed a not quantifiable number of egagropiles (Posidonia oceanica spheroids), Rhodophyceae (Halymenia sp.) and segments of reeds of Phragmites communis, trapped in the fishing lines. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy was used in order to identify the chemical composition of the fishing lines: 92% was made of nylon while 8.0% was determined as fluorocarbon based polymers (polyvinylidene fluoride). Because of their subtlety and reduced size, sandy beach cleaning operations should include at least two consecutive removal samplings: indeed, a part of this litter (12.14%) is not removed in the first sampling. The unexpected high density of fishing lines suggests specific management actions aimed to periodically remove this neglected anthropogenic litter.

RevDate: 2018-11-13

Cáliz J, Triadó-Margarit X, Camarero L, et al (2018)

A long-term survey unveils strong seasonal patterns in the airborne microbiome coupled to general and regional atmospheric circulations.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America pii:1812826115 [Epub ahead of print].

Airborne microbes (bacteria, archaea, protists, and fungi) were surveyed over a 7-y period via high-throughput massive sequencing of 16S and 18S rRNA genes in rain and snow samples collected fortnightly at a high-elevation mountain Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network site (LTER-Aigüestortes, Central Pyrenees, Spain). This survey constitutes the most comprehensive mountain-top aerobiology study reported to date. The air mass origins were tracked through modeled back-trajectories and analysis of rain water chemical composition. Consistent microbial seasonal patterns were observed with highly divergent summer and winter communities recurrent in time. Indicative microbial taxa were unveiled as a forensic signature, and ubiquitous taxa were observed as common atmosphere inhabitants, highlighting aerosols as a potentially successful mechanism for global microbial dispersal. Source-tracking analyses identified freshwater, cropland, and urban biomes as the most important sources for airborne bacteria in summer, while marine and forest biomes prevailed in winter, in agreement with air mass retrotrajectories and the prevailing general and regional atmospheric circulation.

RevDate: 2018-11-12

Staffieri E, de Lucia GA, Camedda A, et al (2018)

Pressure and impact of anthropogenic litter on marine and estuarine reptiles: an updated "blacklist" highlighting gaps of evidence.

Environmental science and pollution research international pii:10.1007/s11356-018-3616-4 [Epub ahead of print].

We report an arrangement on the effect of anthropogenic litter on marine and estuarine reptiles, checking for evidence about different types of impact (ingestion vs. entanglement) and pressure (three size-based categories). From 1976 to 2018, we obtained a "blacklist" of 11 species impacted by marine litter (about 13% of 85 species of marine and estuarine reptiles), belonging to three orders (Testudines, Squamata, and Crocodilia). We obtained only occasional evidence of an impact for Squamata (Hidrophis elegans, Disteira major) and Crocodilia (Crocodylus porosus). Regarding the different types of pressure, the highest number of evidence has been obtained for macro-litter (10 species) and the lowest for micro-litter (4 species, all Chelonidae). Among Testudines, Lepidochelys kempii and Natator depressus evidenced a lack of data for micro-plastic. In Squamata, information is lacking for micro-plastic with only occasional references for meso-plastic (in Hydrophis elegans) and macro-plastic (Disteira major and Crocodylus porosus). We obtained a direct correlation between the research effort and the number of citations regarding different types of pressure and impact of marine litter: therefore, our blacklist of impacted species could be increased, carrying out further research focused on other poorly studied marine and estuarine reptiles. We suggest the use of a standardized nomenclature to reduce the amount of lost information.

RevDate: 2018-10-30

Wilson BJ, Servais S, Mazzei V, et al (2018)

Salinity pulses interact with seasonal dry-down to increase ecosystem carbon loss in marshes of the Florida Everglades.

Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America [Epub ahead of print].

Coastal wetlands are globally important sinks of organic carbon (C). However, to what extent wetland C cycling will be affected by accelerated sea-level rise (SLR) and saltwater intrusion is unknown, especially in coastal peat marshes where water flow is highly managed. Our objective was to determine how the ecosystem C balance in coastal peat marshes is influenced by elevated salinity. For two years, we made monthly in situ manipulations of elevated salinity in freshwater (FW) and brackish water (BW) sites within Everglades National Park, Florida, USA. Salinity pulses interacted with marsh-specific variability in seasonal hydroperiods whereby effects of elevated pulsed salinity on gross ecosystem productivity (GEP), ecosystem respiration (ER), and net ecosystem productivity (NEP) were dependent on marsh inundation level. We found little effect of elevated salinity on C cycling when both marsh sites were inundated, but when water levels receded below the soil surface, the BW marsh shifted from a C sink to a C source. During these exposed periods, we observed an approximately threefold increase in CO2 efflux from the marsh as a result of elevated salinity. Initially, elevated salinity pulses did not affect Cladium jamaicense biomass, but aboveground biomass began to be significantly decreased in the saltwater amended plots after two years of exposure at the BW site. We found a 65% (FW) and 72% (BW) reduction in live root biomass in the soil after two years of exposure to elevated salinity pulses. Regardless of salinity treatment, the FW site was C neutral while the BW site was a strong C source (-334 to -454 g C·m-2 ·yr-1), particularly during dry-down events. A loss of live roots coupled with annual net CO2 losses as marshes transition from FW to BW likely contributes to the collapse of peat soils observed in the coastal Everglades. As SLR increases the rate of saltwater intrusion into coastal wetlands globally, understanding how water management influences C gains and losses from these systems is crucial. Under current Everglades' water management, drought lengthens marsh dry-down periods, which, coupled with saltwater intrusion, accelerates CO2 loss from the marsh.

RevDate: 2018-10-30

Rudgers JA, Dettweiler-Robinson E, Belnap J, et al (2018)

Are fungal networks key to dryland primary production?.

American journal of botany [Epub ahead of print].

RevDate: 2018-10-30

Castorani MCN, Reed DC, RJ Miller (2018)

Loss of foundation species: disturbance frequency outweighs severity in structuring kelp forest communities.

Ecology [Epub ahead of print].

Disturbances often cause the disproportionate loss of foundation species but understanding how the frequency and severity of disturbance to such organisms influence biological communities remains unresolved. This gap in knowledge exists in part because of the rarity of ecologically meaningful studies capable of disentangling different elements of disturbance. Hence, we carried out a long-term (9 yr), large-scale (2,000 m2 plots), spatially replicated (4 sites) field experiment in which we manipulated disturbance to a globally distributed marine foundation species, the giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera, and tracked community responses over time. To distinguish the effects of disturbance frequency and severity on the biodiversity and composition of temperate rocky reef communities, we simulated the repeated loss of giant kelp from destructive winter waves across a background of natural variation in disturbance. By following the response of over 200 taxa from the surrounding community, we discovered that the frequency of disturbance to giant kelp changed the biomass, diversity, and composition of community guilds in a manner commensurate with their dependence on the physical (i.e., benthic light and space), trophic (i.e., living and detrital biomass), and habitat (i.e., biogenic structure) resources mediated by this foundation species. Annual winter disturbance to giant kelp reduced living and detrital giant kelp biomass by 57% and 40%, respectively, enhanced bottom light by 22%, and halved the seafloor area covered by giant kelp holdfasts. Concomitantly, the biomass of understory algae and epilithic sessile invertebrates more than doubled, while the biomass of rock-boring clams, mobile invertebrates, and fishes decreased 30-61%. Frequent loss of giant kelp boosted understory algal richness by 82% and lowered sessile invertebrate richness by 13% but did not affect the biodiversity of mobile fauna. In contrast to changes driven by disturbance frequency, interannual variation in the severity of disturbance to giant kelp had weaker, less consistent effects, causing only modest changes in assemblages of sessile invertebrates, mobile invertebrate herbivores, and fishes. Our results broaden the foundation species concept by demonstrating that repeated disturbance to a dominant habitat-forming species can outweigh the influence of less frequent but severe disturbances for the surrounding community.

RevDate: 2018-10-30

Koerner SE, Smith MD, Burkepile DE, et al (2018)

Change in dominance determines herbivore effects on plant biodiversity.

Nature ecology & evolution pii:10.1038/s41559-018-0696-y [Epub ahead of print].

Herbivores alter plant biodiversity (species richness) in many of the world's ecosystems, but the magnitude and the direction of herbivore effects on biodiversity vary widely within and among ecosystems. One current theory predicts that herbivores enhance plant biodiversity at high productivity but have the opposite effect at low productivity. Yet, empirical support for the importance of site productivity as a mediator of these herbivore impacts is equivocal. Here, we synthesize data from 252 large-herbivore exclusion studies, spanning a 20-fold range in site productivity, to test an alternative hypothesis-that herbivore-induced changes in the competitive environment determine the response of plant biodiversity to herbivory irrespective of productivity. Under this hypothesis, when herbivores reduce the abundance (biomass, cover) of dominant species (for example, because the dominant plant is palatable), additional resources become available to support new species, thereby increasing biodiversity. By contrast, if herbivores promote high dominance by increasing the abundance of herbivory-resistant, unpalatable species, then resource availability for other species decreases reducing biodiversity. We show that herbivore-induced change in dominance, independent of site productivity or precipitation (a proxy for productivity), is the best predictor of herbivore effects on biodiversity in grassland and savannah sites. Given that most herbaceous ecosystems are dominated by one or a few species, altering the competitive environment via herbivores or by other means may be an effective strategy for conserving biodiversity in grasslands and savannahs globally.

RevDate: 2018-10-28

Furze ME, Huggett BA, Aubrecht DM, et al (2018)

Whole-tree nonstructural carbohydrate storage and seasonal dynamics in five temperate species.

The New phytologist [Epub ahead of print].

Despite the importance of nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC) for growth and survival in woody plants, we know little about whole-tree NSC storage. The conventional theory suggests that NSC reserves will increase over the growing season and decrease over the dormant season. Here, we compare storage in five temperate tree species to determine the size and seasonal fluctuation of whole-tree total NSC pools as well as the contribution of individual organs. NSC concentrations in the branches, stemwood, and roots of 24 trees were measured across 12 months. We then scaled up concentrations to the whole-tree and ecosystem levels using allometric equations and forest stand inventory data. While whole-tree total NSC pools followed the conventional theory, sugar pools peaked in the dormant season and starch pools in the growing season. Seasonal depletion of total NSCs was minimal at the whole-tree level, but substantial at the organ level, particularly in branches. Surprisingly, roots were not the major storage organ as branches stored comparable amounts of starch throughout the year, and root reserves were not used to support springtime growth. Scaling up NSC concentrations to the ecosystem level, we find that commonly used, process-based ecosystem and land surface models all overpredict NSC storage.

RevDate: 2018-10-28

Sullivan LL, Clark AT, Tilman D, et al (2018)

Mechanistically derived dispersal kernels explain species-level patterns of recruitment and succession.

Ecology [Epub ahead of print].

Species-level dispersal information can give mechanistic insights into how spatial processes impact plant communities. Unfortunately, field-based estimates of the dispersal abilities of multiple members of a community are often lacking for many plant systems. Here, we provide a simple method for measuring dispersal ability for large numbers of grassland plant species based on functional traits. Using this method, we estimated the dispersal ability of 50 co-occurring grassland species using the Wald Analytical Long-distance Dispersal (WALD) model. Grassland plants species are often used for developing community theory, yet species-level estimates of their dispersal abilities are comparatively rare. We use these dispersal measurements to examine the relationship between species dispersal abilities and successional dynamics using data from a 90-yr old field chronosequence. We find that our estimated dispersal measurements matched field-based establishment observations well, and estimated species colonization, competitive, and establishment abilities. We hope that this method for measuring dispersal ability of multiple species within a community, and its demonstrated ability to generate predictions for spatial ecology, will encourage more studies of the explicit role of dispersal in plant community ecology.

RevDate: 2018-10-16

Lister BC, A Garcia (2018)

Climate-driven declines in arthropod abundance restructure a rainforest food web.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America pii:1722477115 [Epub ahead of print].

A number of studies indicate that tropical arthropods should be particularly vulnerable to climate warming. If these predictions are realized, climate warming may have a more profound impact on the functioning and diversity of tropical forests than currently anticipated. Although arthropods comprise over two-thirds of terrestrial species, information on their abundance and extinction rates in tropical habitats is severely limited. Here we analyze data on arthropod and insectivore abundances taken between 1976 and 2012 at two midelevation habitats in Puerto Rico's Luquillo rainforest. During this time, mean maximum temperatures have risen by 2.0 °C. Using the same study area and methods employed by Lister in the 1970s, we discovered that the dry weight biomass of arthropods captured in sweep samples had declined 4 to 8 times, and 30 to 60 times in sticky traps. Analysis of long-term data on canopy arthropods and walking sticks taken as part of the Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research program revealed sustained declines in abundance over two decades, as well as negative regressions of abundance on mean maximum temperatures. We also document parallel decreases in Luquillo's insectivorous lizards, frogs, and birds. While El Niño/Southern Oscillation influences the abundance of forest arthropods, climate warming is the major driver of reductions in arthropod abundance, indirectly precipitating a bottom-up trophic cascade and consequent collapse of the forest food web.

RevDate: 2018-10-12

Baker CM, Bode M, Dexter N, et al (2018)

A novel approach to assessing the ecosystem-wide impacts of reintroductions.

Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America [Epub ahead of print].

Reintroducing a species to an ecosystem can have significant impacts on the recipient ecological community. Although reintroductions can have striking and positive outcomes, they also carry risks; many well intentioned conservation actions have had surprising and unsatisfactory outcomes. A range of network-based mathematical methods have been developed to make quantitative predictions of how communities will respond to management interventions. These methods are based on the limited knowledge of which species interact with each other and in what way. However, expert knowledge isn't perfect and can only take models so far. Fortunately, other types of data, such as abundance time-series, is often available, but, to date, no quantitative method exists to integrate these various data types into these models, allowing more precise ecosystem-wide predictions. In this paper, we develop mathematical methods that combine time-series data of multiple species with knowledge of species interactions and we apply it to proposed reintroductions at Booderee National Park in Australia. There have been large fluctuations in species abundances at Booderee National Park in recent history, following intense feral fox (Vulpes vulpes) control - including the local extinction of the greater glider (Petauroides volans). These fluctuations can provide information about the system isn't readily obtained from a stable system, and we use them to inform models that we then use to predict potential outcomes of eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus) and long-nosed potoroo (Potorous tridactylus) reintroductions. One of the key species of conservation concern in the park is the eastern bristlebird (Dasyornis brachypterus), and we find that long-nosed potoroo introduction would have very little impact on the eastern bristlebird population, while the eastern quoll introduction increased the likelihood of eastern bristlebird decline, although that depends on the strength and form of any possible interaction. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

RevDate: 2018-10-12

Berdanier AB, JS Clark (2018)

Tree water balance drives temperate forest responses to drought.

Ecology [Epub ahead of print].

Intensifying drought is increasingly linked to global forest diebacks. Improved understanding of drought impacts on individual trees has provided limited insight into drought vulnerability in part because tree moisture access and depletion is difficult to quantify. In forests, moisture reservoir depletion occurs through water use by the trees themselves. Here, we show that drought impacts on tree fitness and demographic performance can be predicted by tracking the moisture reservoir available to trees as a mass balance, estimated in a hierarchical state-space framework. We apply this model to multiple seasonal droughts with tree transpiration measurements to demonstrate how species and size differences modulate moisture availability across landscapes. The depletion of individual moisture reservoirs can be tracked over the course of droughts and linked to biomass growth and reproductive output. This mass balance approach can predict individual moisture deficit, tree demographic performance, and drought vulnerability throughout forest stands based on measurements from a sample of trees.

RevDate: 2018-09-25

Kallenbach CM, Frey SD, AS Grandy (2018)

Author Correction: Direct evidence for microbial-derived soil organic matter formation and its ecophysiological controls.

Nature communications, 9(1):3929 pii:10.1038/s41467-018-06427-3.

In the originally published version of this Article, financial support was not fully acknowledged. The PDF and HTML versions of the Article have now been corrected to include support from the NSF Long-term Ecological Research Program (DEB 1637653) at the Kellogg Biological Station and from Michigan State University AgBioResearch.

RevDate: 2018-09-17

Kaushal SS, Duan S, Doody TR, et al (2017)

Human-accelerated weathering increases salinization, major ions, and alkalinization in fresh water across land use.

Applied geochemistry : journal of the International Association of Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry, 83:121-135.

Human-dominated land uses can increase transport of major ions in streams due to the combination of human-accelerated weathering and anthropogenic salts. Calcium, magnesium, sodium, alkalinity, and hardness significantly increased in the drinking water supply for Baltimore, Maryland over almost 50 years (p<0.05) coinciding with regional urbanization. Across a nearby land use gradient at the Baltimore Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site, there were significant increases in concentrations of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, and Si and pH with increasing impervious surfaces in 9 streams monitored bi-weekly over a 3-4 year period (p<0.05). Base cations in urban streams were up to 60 times greater than forest and agricultural streams, and elemental ratios suggested road salt and carbonate weathering from impervious surfaces as potential sources. Laboratory weathering experiments with concrete also indicated that impervious surfaces increased pH and DIC with potential to alkalinize urban waters. Ratios of Na+ and Cl- suggested that there was enhanced ion exchange in the watersheds from road salts, which could mobilize other base cations from soils to streams. There were significant relationships between Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, and K+ concentrations and Cl-, SO42-, NO3- and DIC across land use (p<0.05), which suggested tight coupling of geochemical cycles. Finally, concentrations of Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+, and pH significantly increased with distance downstream (p<0.05) along a stream network draining 170 km2 of the Baltimore LTER site contributing to river alkalinization. Our results suggest that urbanization may dramatically increase major ions, ionic strength, and pH over decades from headwaters to coastal zones, which can impact integrity of aquatic life, infrastructure, drinking water, and coastal ocean alkalinization.

RevDate: 2018-09-15

Kendrick MR, Huryn AD, Bowden WB, et al (2018)

Linking permafrost thaw to shifting biogeochemistry and food web resources in an arctic river.

Global change biology [Epub ahead of print].

Rapidly increasing air temperatures across the Arctic are thawing permafrost and exposing vast quantities of organic carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus to microbial processing. Shifts in the absolute and relative supplies of these elements will likely alter patterns of ecosystem productivity and change the way carbon and nutrients are delivered from upland areas to surface waters such as rivers and lakes. The ultra-oligotrophic nature of surface waters across the Arctic renders these ecosystems particularly susceptible to changes in productivity and food web dynamics as permafrost thaw alters terrestrial-aquatic linkages. The objectives of this study were to evaluate decadal-scale patterns in surface water chemistry and assess potential implications of changing water chemistry to benthic organic matter and aquatic food webs. Data were collected from the upper Kuparuk River on the North Slope of Alaska by the U.S. National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program during 1978-2014. Analyses of these data show increases in stream water alkalinity and cation concentrations consistent with signatures of permafrost thaw. Changes are also documented for discharge-corrected nitrate concentrations (+), discharge-corrected DOC concentrations (-), total phosphorus concentrations (-), and δ13 C isotope values of aquatic invertebrate consumers (-). These changes show that warming temperatures and thawing permafrost in the upland environment are leading to shifts in the supply of carbon and nutrients available to surface waters and consequently changing resources that support aquatic food webs. This demonstrates that physical, geochemical, and biological changes associated with warming permafrost are fundamentally altering linkages between upland and aquatic ecosystems in rapidly changing arctic environments. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

RevDate: 2018-09-04

Bowman WD, Ayyad A, Bueno de Mesquita CP, et al (2018)

Limited ecosystem recovery from simulated chronic nitrogen deposition.

Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America [Epub ahead of print].

The realization that anthropogenic nitrogen (N) deposition is causing significant environmental change in many ecosystems has led to lower emissions of reactive N and deposition rates in many regions. However, the impacts of N deposition on terrestrial ecosystems can be long lasting, with significant inertia in the return of the biota and biogeochemical processes to baseline levels. To better understand patterns of recovery and the factors that may contribute to slow or no responses following declines in N deposition, we followed plant species composition, microbial abundance, N cycling rates, soil pH, and pools of NO3- and extractable cations in an impacted alpine ecosystem following cessation of 12-yr experiment increasing N deposition rates by 0, 20, 40, and 60 kg N·ha-1 ·yr-1 . Simulated N deposition had resulted in a tripling in the cover of the nitrophilic species Carex rupestris, while the dominant sedge Kobresia myosuroides had decreased by more than half at the highest N input level. In addition, nitrification rates were elevated, soil extractable magnesium (Mg2+) and pH decreased, and aluminum (Al3+) and manganese (Mn2+) were elevated at the highest N treatment inputs. Over the nine years following cessation of N additions to the impacted plots, only the cover of the nitrophilic C. rupestris showed any recovery to prior levels. Abundances of both bacteria and fungi were lower with N addition in both treatment and recovery plots. Rates of nitrification and pools of NO3- remained elevated in the recovery plots, likely contributing to the lack of biotic response to the cessation of N inputs. In addition, nutrient base cations (Ca2+ and Mg2+) and soil pH remained depressed, and the toxic metal cations (Al3+ and Mn2+) remained elevated in recovery plots, also potentially influencing biotic recovery. These results emphasize the importance of considering long-term environmental impacts of N deposition associated with legacy effects, such as elevated N cycling and losses of base cations, in determining environmental standards such as the metrics used for critical loads.

RevDate: 2018-09-03

Obertegger U, Bertilsson S, Pindo M, et al (2018)

Temporal variability of bacterioplankton is habitat driven.

Molecular ecology [Epub ahead of print].

Temporal dynamics of bacterioplankton are rarely investigated for multiple habitats and years within individual lakes, limiting our understanding of the variability of bacterioplankton community (BC) composition with respect to environmental factors. We assessed the BC composition of a littoral and two pelagic habitats (euphotic zone and hypolimnion) of Lake Tovel monthly from April 2014 to May 2017 by high throughput sequencing of the V3-V4 hypervariable region of the 16S rRNA gene. The three habitats differed in temperature, light, oxygen and hydrology. In particular, the littoral was the most hydrologically unstable because it receives most of the lake inflow, the hypolimnion was the most stable because of its hydrologically sheltered position, and the pelagic euphotic habitat was intermediate. Consequently, we hypothesized different temporal patterns of BC composition for all three habitats according to their environmental differences. We applied PERMANOVA, non-metric multidimensional scaling, and source-sink analysis to characterize BC composition. Overall, BCs were different among habitats with the littoral showing the highest variability and the hypolimnion the highest stability. The BC of rainy 2014 was distinct from the BCs of other years irrespective of the habitats considered. Seasonal differences in BCs were limited to spring, probably linked to melt-water inflow and mixing. Thus, temporal effects related to year and season were linked to the hydrological gradient of habitats. We suggest that despite potential within-lake dispersal of bacterioplankton by water flow and mixing, local environmental conditions played a major role in Lake Tovel, fostering distinct BCs in the three habitats. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

RevDate: 2018-08-15

Iannilli V, Di Gennaro A, Lecce F, et al (2018)

Microplastics in Talitrus saltator (Crustacea, Amphipoda): new evidence of ingestion from natural contexts.

Environmental science and pollution research international pii:10.1007/s11356-018-2932-z [Epub ahead of print].

Using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) measurements and comparing the spectrum peaks (range 4000-600 cm-1) with reference spectra database and instrument libraries, we observed new evidence of the ingestion of microplastic particles analyzing the digestive tracts of Talitrus saltator. Specimens, sampled in central Italy, probably ingested the particles with natural detritus. Since worldwide many species of invertebrates and vertebrates (e.g., birds) feed on Amphipoda along coastal ecosystems, we hypothesized that microplastic in these crustaceans can be accumulated along the food chain.

RevDate: 2018-08-08

Potter TI, Stannard HJ, Greenville AC, et al (2018)

Understanding selective predation: Are energy and nutrients important?.

PloS one, 13(8):e0201300 pii:PONE-D-18-09019.

For generalist predators, a mixed diet can be advantageous as it allows individuals to exploit a potentially broad range of profitable food types. Despite this, some generalist predators show preferences for certain types of food and may forage selectively in places or at times when these foods are available. One such species is the lesser hairy-footed dunnart (Sminthopsis youngsoni). Usually considered to be a generalist insectivore, in the Simpson Desert, Australia, this small marsupial predator has been found to selectively consume wolf spiders (Family Lycosidae), for reasons yet unknown. Here, we tested whether lycosids have relatively high energy or nutrient contents compared to other invertebrates, and hence whether these aspects of food quality can explain selective predation of lycosids by S. youngsoni. Energy, lipid and protein composition of representatives of 9 arthropod families that are eaten by S. youngsoni in the Simpson Desert were ascertained using microbomb calorimetry, chloroform-methanol extraction and Dumas combustion, respectively. Although lycosids contained a high proportion of energy and nutrients, they were not found to yield statistically greater amounts of these food components than many other available arthropod prey that are not selected by S. youngsoni. Our results therefore suggest that alternative factors may be more influential in shaping dietary selection in this marsupial predator, such as high rates of encounter between lycosids and S. youngsoni.

RevDate: 2018-08-22

Ni X, PM Groffman (2018)

Declines in methane uptake in forest soils.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(34):8587-8590.

Forest soils are a sink for atmospheric methane (CH4) and play an important role in modulating the global CH4 budget. However, whether CH4 uptake by forest soils is affected by global environmental change is unknown. We measured soil to atmosphere net CH4 fluxes in temperate forests at two long-term ecological research sites in the northeastern United States from the late 1990s to the mid-2010s. We found that annual soil CH4 uptake decreased by 62% and 53% in urban and rural forests in Baltimore, Maryland and by 74% and 89% in calcium-fertilized and reference forests at Hubbard Brook, New Hampshire over this period. This decrease occurred despite marked declines in nitrogen deposition and increases in atmospheric CH4 concentration and temperature, which should lead to increases in CH4 uptake. This decrease in soil CH4 uptake appears to be driven by increases in precipitation and soil hydrological flux. Furthermore, an analysis of CH4 uptake around the globe showed that CH4 uptake in forest soils has decreased by an average of 77% from 1988 to 2015, particularly in forests located from 0 to 60 °N latitude where precipitation has been increasing. We conclude that the soil CH4 sink may be declining and overestimated in several regions across the globe.

RevDate: 2018-07-17
CmpDate: 2018-07-17

Vuorenmaa J, Augustaitis A, Beudert B, et al (2018)

Long-term changes (1990-2015) in the atmospheric deposition and runoff water chemistry of sulphate, inorganic nitrogen and acidity for forested catchments in Europe in relation to changes in emissions and hydrometeorological conditions.

The Science of the total environment, 625:1129-1145.

The international Long-Term Ecological Research Network (ILTER) encompasses hundreds of long-term research/monitoring sites located in a wide array of ecosystems that can help us understand environmental change across the globe. We evaluated long-term trends (1990-2015) for bulk deposition, throughfall and runoff water chemistry and fluxes, and climatic variables in 25 forested catchments in Europe belonging to the UNECE International Cooperative Programme on Integrated Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Ecosystems (ICP IM). Many of the IM sites form part of the monitoring infrastructures of this larger ILTER network. Trends were evaluated for monthly concentrations of non-marine (anthropogenic fraction, denoted as x) sulphate (xSO4) and base cations x(Ca+Mg), hydrogen ion (H+), inorganic N (NO3 and NH4) and ANC (Acid Neutralising Capacity) and their respective fluxes into and out of the catchments and for monthly precipitation, runoff and air temperature. A significant decrease of xSO4 deposition resulted in decreases in concentrations and fluxes of xSO4 in runoff, being significant at 90% and 60% of the sites, respectively. Bulk deposition of NO3 and NH4 decreased significantly at 60-80% (concentrations) and 40-60% (fluxes) of the sites. Concentrations and fluxes of NO3 in runoff decreased at 73% and 63% of the sites, respectively, and NO3 concentrations decreased significantly at 50% of the sites. Thus, the LTER/ICP IM network confirms the positive effects of the emission reductions in Europe. Air temperature increased significantly at 61% of the sites, while trends for precipitation and runoff were rarely significant. The site-specific variation of xSO4 concentrations in runoff was most strongly explained by deposition. Climatic variables and deposition explained the variation of inorganic N concentrations in runoff at single sites poorly, and as yet there are no clear signs of a consistent deposition-driven or climate-driven increase in inorganic N exports in the catchments.

RevDate: 2018-07-17
CmpDate: 2018-07-17

Rogora M, Frate L, Carranza ML, et al (2018)

Assessment of climate change effects on mountain ecosystems through a cross-site analysis in the Alps and Apennines.

The Science of the total environment, 624:1429-1442.

Mountain ecosystems are sensitive and reliable indicators of climate change. Long-term studies may be extremely useful in assessing the responses of high-elevation ecosystems to climate change and other anthropogenic drivers from a broad ecological perspective. Mountain research sites within the LTER (Long-Term Ecological Research) network are representative of various types of ecosystems and span a wide bioclimatic and elevational range. Here, we present a synthesis and a review of the main results from ecological studies in mountain ecosystems at 20 LTER sites in Italy, Switzerland and Austria covering in most cases more than two decades of observations. We analyzed a set of key climate parameters, such as temperature and snow cover duration, in relation to vascular plant species composition, plant traits, abundance patterns, pedoclimate, nutrient dynamics in soils and water, phenology and composition of freshwater biota. The overall results highlight the rapid response of mountain ecosystems to climate change, with site-specific characteristics and rates. As temperatures increased, vegetation cover in alpine and subalpine summits increased as well. Years with limited snow cover duration caused an increase in soil temperature and microbial biomass during the growing season. Effects on freshwater ecosystems were also observed, in terms of increases in solutes, decreases in nitrates and changes in plankton phenology and benthos communities. This work highlights the importance of comparing and integrating long-term ecological data collected in different ecosystems for a more comprehensive overview of the ecological effects of climate change. Nevertheless, there is a need for (i) adopting co-located monitoring site networks to improve our ability to obtain sound results from cross-site analysis, (ii) carrying out further studies, in particular short-term analyses with fine spatial and temporal resolutions to improve our understanding of responses to extreme events, and (iii) increasing comparability and standardizing protocols across networks to distinguish local patterns from global patterns.

RevDate: 2018-06-17

Cibic T, Comici C, Falconi C, et al (2018)

Phytoplankton community and physical-chemical data measured in the Gulf of Trieste (northern Adriatic Sea) over the period March 2006-February 2007.

Data in brief, 19:586-593 pii:S2352-3409(18)30560-2.

Biological, hydrological and chemical data were acquired at monthly intervals from March 2006 to February 2007, at the Long-Term Ecological Research site C1 in the Gulf of Trieste, in the northernmost part of the Adriatic Sea. The biological dataset comprises total chl a and phaeopigment concentrations, and the distinction of the total phytoplankton biomass into three photoautotrophic community fractions, i.e. cyanobacteria, nano- and microphytoplankton, collected at discrete depths. Hydrological data encompass the thermohaline properties of the water column (temperature and salinity profiles from CTD casts). Chemical data consist of silicate and phosphate concentrations obtained from discrete seawater samples collected with Niskin bottles at four depths (0.5-5-10-15 m). Data presented here are related to the paper "Structural and functional response of phytoplankton to reduced river inputs and anomalous physical-chemical conditions in the Gulf of Trieste (northern Adriatic Sea) by Cibic et al. (2018) [1].

RevDate: 2018-06-14

Kogovšek T, Vodopivec M, Raicich F, et al (2018)

Comparative analysis of the ecosystems in the northern Adriatic Sea and the Inland Sea of Japan: Can anthropogenic pressures disclose jellyfish outbreaks?.

The Science of the total environment, 626:982-994.

A prominent increase in the moon jellyfish (genus Aurelia) populations has been observed since 1980 in two semi-enclosed temperate seas: the northern Adriatic Sea and the Inland Sea of Japan. Therefore, we reviewed long-term environmental and biotic data from the two Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites, along with the increase in the moon jellyfish occurrence to elucidate how these coastal seas shifted to the jellyfish-dominated ecosystems. The principal component analysis of atmospheric data revealed a simultaneous occurrence of similar climatic changes in the early 1980s; thereafter, air temperature increased steadily and precipitation decreased but became more extreme. Accordingly, the average seawater temperature from March to October, a period of polyps' asexual reproduction i.e. budding, increased, potentially leading to an increase in the reproductive rates of local polyp populations. Conspicuous eutrophication occurred due to the rise of anthropogenic activities in both areas from the 1960s onwards. This coincided with an increase of the stock size of forage fishes, such as anchovy and sardine, but not the population size of the jellyfish. However, by the end of the 1980s, when the eutrophication lessened due to the regulations of nutrients loads from the land, the productive fishing grounds of both systems turned into a state that may be described as 'jellyfish-permeated,' as manifested by a drastic decrease in fish landings and a prominent increase in the intensity and frequency of medusa blooms. A steady increase in artificial marine structures that provide substrate for newly settled polyps might further contribute to the enhancement of jellyfish population size. Elevated fishing pressure and/or predation by jellyfish on ichthyoplankton and zooplankton might jeopardize the recruitment of anchovy, so that the anchovy catch has never recovered fully. These semi-enclosed seas may represent many temperate coastal waters with increased anthropogenic stressors, which have degraded the ecosystem from fish-dominated to jellyfish-dominated.

RevDate: 2018-06-15
CmpDate: 2018-06-15

Mirtl M, T Borer E, Djukic I, et al (2018)

Genesis, goals and achievements of Long-Term Ecological Research at the global scale: A critical review of ILTER and future directions.

The Science of the total environment, 626:1439-1462.

Since its founding in 1993 the International Long-term Ecological Research Network (ILTER) has gone through pronounced development phases. The current network comprises 44 active member LTER networks representing 700 LTER Sites and ~80 LTSER Platforms across all continents, active in the fields of ecosystem, critical zone and socio-ecological research. The critical challenges and most important achievements of the initial phase have now become state-of-the-art in networking for excellent science. At the same time increasing integration, accelerating technology, networking of resources and a strong pull for more socially relevant scientific information have been modifying the mission and goals of ILTER. This article provides a critical review of ILTER's mission, goals, development and impacts. Major characteristics, tools, services, partnerships and selected examples of relative strengths relevant for advancing ILTER are presented. We elaborate on the tradeoffs between the needs of the scientific community and stakeholder expectations. The embedding of ILTER in an increasingly collaborative landscape of global environmental observation and ecological research networks and infrastructures is also reflected by developments of pioneering regional and national LTER networks such as SAEON in South Africa, CERN/CEOBEX in China, TERN in Australia or eLTER RI in Europe. The primary role of ILTER is currently seen as a mechanism to investigate ecosystem structure, function, and services in response to a wide range of environmental forcings using long-term, place-based research. We suggest four main fields of activities and advancements for the next decade through development/delivery of a: (1) Global multi-disciplinary community of researchers and research institutes; (2) Strategic global framework and strong partnerships in ecosystem observation and research; (3) Global Research Infrastructure (GRI); and (4) a scientific knowledge factory for societally relevant information on sustainable use of natural resources.

RevDate: 2018-06-29
CmpDate: 2018-06-29

Haase P, Tonkin JD, Stoll S, et al (2018)

The next generation of site-based long-term ecological monitoring: Linking essential biodiversity variables and ecosystem integrity.

The Science of the total environment, 613-614:1376-1384.

Global change effects on biodiversity and human wellbeing call for improved long-term environmental data as a basis for science, policy and decision making, including increased interoperability, multifunctionality, and harmonization. Based on the example of two global initiatives, the International Long-Term Ecological Research (ILTER) network and the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON), we propose merging the frameworks behind these initiatives, namely ecosystem integrity and essential biodiversity variables, to serve as an improved guideline for future site-based long-term research and monitoring in terrestrial, freshwater and coastal ecosystems. We derive a list of specific recommendations of what and how to measure at a monitoring site and call for an integration of sites into co-located site networks across individual monitoring initiatives, and centered on ecosystems. This facilitates the generation of linked comprehensive ecosystem monitoring data, supports synergies in the use of costly infrastructures, fosters cross-initiative research and provides a template for collaboration beyond the ILTER and GEO BON communities.

RevDate: 2018-06-15

Potter TI, Greenville AC, CR Dickman (2018)

Assessing the potential for intraguild predation among taxonomically disparate micro-carnivores: marsupials and arthropods.

Royal Society open science, 5(5):171872 pii:rsos171872.

Interspecific competition may occur when resources are limited, and is often most intense between animals in the same ecological guild. Intraguild predation (IGP) is a distinctive form of interference competition, where a dominant predator selectively kills subordinate rivals to gain increased access to resources. However, before IGP can be identified, organisms must be confirmed as members of the same guild and occur together in space and time. The lesser hairy-footed dunnart (Sminthopsis youngsoni, Dasyuridae) is a generalist marsupial insectivore in arid Australia, but consumes wolf spiders (Lycosa spp., Lycosidae) disproportionately often relative to their availability. Here, we test the hypothesis that this disproportionate predation is a product of frequent encounter rates between the interactants due to high overlap in their diets and use of space and time. Diet and prey availability were determined using direct observations and invertebrate pitfall trapping, microhabitat use by tracking individuals of both species-groups, and temporal activity using spotlighting and camera traps. Major overlap (greater than 75% similarity) was found in diet and temporal activity, and weaker overlap in microhabitat use. Taken together, these findings suggest reasonable potential, for the first time, for competition and intraguild predation to occur between taxa as disparate as marsupials and spiders.

RevDate: 2018-06-13
CmpDate: 2018-06-13

Dick J, Orenstein DE, Holzer JM, et al (2018)

What is socio-ecological research delivering? A literature survey across 25 international LTSER platforms.

The Science of the total environment, 622-623:1225-1240.

With an overarching goal of addressing global and regional sustainability challenges, Long Term Socio-Ecological Research Platforms (LTSER) aim to conduct place-based research, to collect and synthesize both environmental and socio-economic data, and to involve a broader stakeholder pool to set the research agenda. To date there have been few studies examining the output from LTSER platforms. In this study we enquire if the socio-ecological research from 25 self-selected LTSER platforms of the International Long-Term Ecological Research (ILTER) network has produced research products which fulfil the aims and ambitions of the paradigm shift from ecological to socio-ecological research envisaged at the turn of the century. In total we assessed 4983 publically available publications, of which 1112 were deemed relevant to the socio-ecological objectives of the platform. A series of 22 questions were scored for each publication, assessing relevance of responses in terms of the disciplinary focus of research, consideration of human health and well-being, degree of stakeholder engagement, and other relevant variables. The results reflected the diverse origins of the individual platforms and revealed a wide range in foci, temporal periods and quantity of output from participating platforms, supporting the premise that there is a growing trend in socio-ecological research at long-term monitoring platforms. Our review highlights the challenges of realizing the top-down goal to harmonize international network activities and objectives and the need for bottom-up, self-definition for research platforms. This provides support for increasing the consistency of LTSER research while preserving the diversity of regional experiences.

RevDate: 2018-07-18
CmpDate: 2018-07-18

Holmberg M, Aherne J, Austnes K, et al (2018)

Modelling study of soil C, N and pH response to air pollution and climate change using European LTER site observations.

The Science of the total environment, 640-641:387-399.

Current climate warming is expected to continue in coming decades, whereas high N deposition may stabilize, in contrast to the clear decrease in S deposition. These pressures have distinctive regional patterns and their resulting impact on soil conditions is modified by local site characteristics. We have applied the VSD+ soil dynamic model to study impacts of deposition and climate change on soil properties, using MetHyd and GrowUp as pre-processors to provide input to VSD+. The single-layer soil model VSD+ accounts for processes of organic C and N turnover, as well as charge and mass balances of elements, cation exchange and base cation weathering. We calibrated VSD+ at 26 ecosystem study sites throughout Europe using observed conditions, and simulated key soil properties: soil solution pH (pH), soil base saturation (BS) and soil organic carbon and nitrogen ratio (C:N) under projected deposition of N and S, and climate warming until 2100. The sites are forested, located in the Mediterranean, forested alpine, Atlantic, continental and boreal regions. They represent the long-term ecological research (LTER) Europe network, including sites of the ICP Forests and ICP Integrated Monitoring (IM) programmes under the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP), providing high quality long-term data on ecosystem response. Simulated future soil conditions improved under projected decrease in deposition and current climate conditions: higher pH, BS and C:N at 21, 16 and 12 of the sites, respectively. When climate change was included in the scenario analysis, the variability of the results increased. Climate warming resulted in higher simulated pH in most cases, and higher BS and C:N in roughly half of the cases. Especially the increase in C:N was more marked with climate warming. The study illustrates the value of LTER sites for applying models to predict soil responses to multiple environmental changes.

RevDate: 2018-05-17

Schofield O, Brown M, Kohut J, et al (2018)

Changes in the upper ocean mixed layer and phytoplankton productivity along the West Antarctic Peninsula.

Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences, 376(2122):.

The West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) has experienced significant change over the last 50 years. Using a 24 year spatial time series collected by the Palmer Long Term Ecological Research programme, we assessed long-term patterns in the sea ice, upper mixed layer depth (MLD) and phytoplankton productivity. The number of sea ice days steadily declined from the 1980s until a recent reversal that began in 2008. Results show regional differences between the northern and southern regions sampled during regional ship surveys conducted each austral summer. In the southern WAP, upper ocean MLD has shallowed by a factor of 2. Associated with the shallower mixed layer is enhanced phytoplankton carbon fixation. In the north, significant interannual variability resulted in the mixed layer showing no trended change over time and there was no significant increase in the phytoplankton productivity. Associated with the recent increases in sea ice there has been an increase in the photosynthetic efficiency (chlorophyll a-normalized carbon fixation) in the northern and southern regions of the WAP. We hypothesize the increase in sea ice results in increased micronutrient delivery to the continental shelf which in turn leads to enhanced photosynthetic performance.This article is part of the theme issue 'The marine system of the West Antarctic Peninsula: status and strategy for progress in a region of rapid change'.

RevDate: 2018-05-21
CmpDate: 2018-05-21

Xia S, Liu Y, Yu X, et al (2018)

Challenges in coupling LTER with environmental assessments: An insight from potential and reality of the Chinese Ecological Research Network in servicing environment assessments.

The Science of the total environment, 633:1302-1313.

Environmental assessments estimate, evaluate and predict the consequences of natural processes and human activities on the environment. Long-term ecosystem observation and research networks (LTERs) are potentially valuable infrastructure to support environmental assessments. However, very few environmental assessments have successfully incorporated them. In this study, we try to reveal the current status of coupling LTERs with environmental assessments and look at the challenges involved in improving this coupling through exploring the role that Chinese Ecological Research Network (CERN), the LTER of China, currently plays in regional environment assessments. A review of official protocols and standards, regional assessments and CERN researches related to ecosystems and environment shows that there is great potential for coupling CERN with environment assessments. However in practice, CERN does not currently play the expected role. Remote sensing and irregular inventory data are still the main data sources currently used in regional assessments. Several causes led to the present situation: (1) insufficient cross-site research and failure to scale up site-level variables to the regional scale; (2) data barriers resulting from incompatible protocols and low data usability due to lack of data assimilation and scaling; and (3) absence of indicators relevant to human activities in existing monitoring protocols. For these reasons, enhancing cross-site monitoring and research, data assimilation and scaling up are critical steps required to improve coupling of LTER with environmental assessments. Site-focused long-term monitoring should be combined with wide-scale ground surveys and remote sensing to establish an effective connection between different environmental monitoring platforms for regional assessments. It is also necessary to revise the current monitoring protocols to include human activities and their impacts on the ecosystem, or change the LTERs into Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research (LTSER) networks.

RevDate: 2018-05-07

Carlson CJ, Getz WM, Kausrud KL, et al (2018)

Spores and soil from six sides: interdisciplinarity and the environmental biology of anthrax (Bacillus anthracis).

Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society [Epub ahead of print].

Environmentally transmitted diseases are comparatively poorly understood and managed, and their ecology is particularly understudied. Here we identify challenges of studying environmental transmission and persistence with a six-sided interdisciplinary review of the biology of anthrax (Bacillus anthracis). Anthrax is a zoonotic disease capable of maintaining infectious spore banks in soil for decades (or even potentially centuries), and the mechanisms of its environmental persistence have been the topic of significant research and controversy. Where anthrax is endemic, it plays an important ecological role, shaping the dynamics of entire herbivore communities. The complex eco-epidemiology of anthrax, and the mysterious biology of Bacillus anthracis during its environmental stage, have necessitated an interdisciplinary approach to pathogen research. Here, we illustrate different disciplinary perspectives through key advances made by researchers working in Etosha National Park, a long-term ecological research site in Namibia that has exemplified the complexities of the enzootic process of anthrax over decades of surveillance. In Etosha, the role of scavengers and alternative routes (waterborne transmission and flies) has proved unimportant relative to the long-term persistence of anthrax spores in soil and their infection of herbivore hosts. Carcass deposition facilitates green-ups of vegetation to attract herbivores, potentially facilitated by the role of anthrax spores in the rhizosphere. The underlying seasonal pattern of vegetation, and herbivores' immune and behavioural responses to anthrax risk, interact to produce regular 'anthrax seasons' that appear to be a stable feature of the Etosha ecosystem. Through the lens of microbiologists, geneticists, immunologists, ecologists, epidemiologists, and clinicians, we discuss how anthrax dynamics are shaped at the smallest scale by population genetics and interactions within the bacterial communities up to the broadest scales of ecosystem structure. We illustrate the benefits and challenges of this interdisciplinary approach to disease ecology, and suggest ways anthrax might offer insights into the biology of other important pathogens. Bacillus anthracis, and the more recently emerged Bacillus cereus biovar anthracis, share key features with other environmentally transmitted pathogens, including several zoonoses and panzootics of special interest for global health and conservation efforts. Understanding the dynamics of anthrax, and developing interdisciplinary research programs that explore environmental persistence, is a critical step forward for understanding these emerging threats.

RevDate: 2018-07-06

Bowman JS, Kavanaugh MT, Doney SC, et al (2018)

Recurrent seascape units identify key ecological processes along the western Antarctic Peninsula.

Global change biology, 24(7):3065-3078.

The western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) is a bellwether of global climate change and natural laboratory for identifying interactions between climate and ecosystems. The Palmer Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) project has collected data on key ecological and environmental processes along the WAP since 1993. To better understand how key ecological parameters are changing across space and time, we developed a novel seascape classification approach based on in situ temperature, salinity, chlorophyll a, nitrate + nitrite, phosphate, and silicate. We anticipate that this approach will be broadly applicable to other geographical areas. Through the application of self-organizing maps (SOMs), we identified eight recurrent seascape units (SUs) in these data. These SUs have strong fidelity to known regional water masses but with an additional layer of biogeochemical detail, allowing us to identify multiple distinct nutrient profiles in several water masses. To identify the temporal and spatial distribution of these SUs, we mapped them across the Palmer LTER sampling grid via objective mapping of the original parameters. Analysis of the abundance and distribution of SUs since 1993 suggests two year types characterized by the partitioning of chlorophyll a into SUs with different spatial characteristics. By developing generalized linear models for correlated, time-lagged external drivers, we conclude that early spring sea ice conditions exert a strong influence on the distribution of chlorophyll a and nutrients along the WAP, but not necessarily the total chlorophyll a inventory. Because the distribution and density of phytoplankton biomass can have an impact on biomass transfer to the upper trophic levels, these results highlight anticipated links between the WAP marine ecosystem and climate.

RevDate: 2018-05-30
CmpDate: 2018-05-30

Greenville AC, Burns E, Dickman CR, et al (2018)

Biodiversity responds to increasing climatic extremes in a biome-specific manner.

The Science of the total environment, 634:382-393.

An unprecedented rate of global environmental change is predicted for the next century. The response to this change by ecosystems around the world is highly uncertain. To address this uncertainty, it is critical to understand the potential drivers and mechanisms of change in order to develop more reliable predictions. Australia's Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTERN) has brought together some of the longest running (10-60years) continuous environmental monitoring programs in the southern hemisphere. Here, we compare climatic variables recorded at five LTERN plot network sites during their period of operation and place them into the context of long-term climatic trends. Then, using our unique Australian long-term datasets (total 117 survey years across four biomes), we synthesize results from a series of case studies to test two hypotheses: 1) extreme weather events for each plot network have increased over the last decade, and; 2) trends in biodiversity will be associated with recent climate change, either directly or indirectly through climate-mediated disturbance (wildfire) responses. We examined the biodiversity responses to environmental change for evidence of non-linear behavior. In line with hypothesis 1), an increase in extreme climate events occurred within the last decade for each plot network. For hypothesis 2), climate, wildfire, or both were correlated with biodiversity responses at each plot network, but there was no evidence of non-linear change. However, the influence of climate or fire was context-specific. Biodiversity responded to recent climate change either directly or indirectly as a consequence of changes in fire regimes or climate-mediated fire responses. A national long-term monitoring framework allowed us to find contrasting species abundance or community responses to climate and disturbance across four of the major biomes of Australia, highlighting the need to establish and resource long-term monitoring programs across representative ecosystem types, which are likely to show context-specific responses.

RevDate: 2018-04-08

Sari M, C Tuna (2018)

Prediction of Pathological Subjects Using Genetic Algorithms.

Computational and mathematical methods in medicine, 2018:6154025.

This paper aims at estimating pathological subjects from a population through various physical information using genetic algorithm (GA). For comparison purposes, K-Means (KM) clustering algorithm has also been used for the estimation. Dataset consisting of some physical factors (age, weight, and height) and tibial rotation values was provided from the literature. Tibial rotation types are four groups as RTER, RTIR, LTER, and LTIR. Each tibial rotation group is divided into three types. Narrow (Type 1) and wide (Type 3) angular values were called pathological and normal (Type 2) angular values were called nonpathological. Physical information was used to examine if the tibial rotations of the subjects were pathological. Since the GA starts randomly and walks all solution space, the GA is seen to produce far better results than the KM for clustering and optimizing the tibial rotation data assessments with large number of subjects even though the KM algorithm has similar effect with the GA in clustering with a small number of subjects. These findings are discovered to be very useful for all health workers such as physiotherapists and orthopedists, in which this consequence is expected to help clinicians in organizing proper treatment programs for patients.

RevDate: 2018-04-02

Prather CM, Belovsky GE, Cantrell SA, et al (2018)

Tropical herbivorous phasmids, but not litter snails, alter decomposition rates by modifying litter bacteria.

Ecology, 99(4):782-791.

Consumers can alter decomposition rates through both feces and selective feeding in many ecosystems, but these combined effects have seldom been examined in tropical ecosystems. Members of the detrital food web (litter-feeders or microbivores) should presumably have greater effects on decomposition than herbivores, members of the green food web. Using litterbag experiments within a field enclosure experiment, we determined the relative effects of common litter snails (Megalomastoma croceum) and herbivorous walking sticks (Lamponius portoricensis) on litter composition, decomposition rates, and microbes in a Puerto Rican rainforest, and whether consumer effects were altered by canopy cover presence. Although canopy presence did not alter consumers' effects, focal organisms had unexpected influences on decomposition. Decomposition was not altered by litter snails, but herbivorous walking sticks reduced leaf decomposition by about 50% through reductions in high quality litter abundance and, consequently, lower bacterial richness and abundance. This relatively unexplored but potentially important link between tropical herbivores, detritus, and litter microbes in this forest demonstrates the need to consider autotrophic influences when examining rainforest ecosystem processes.

RevDate: 2018-05-01

Sari M, Tuna C, S Akogul (2018)

Prediction of Tibial Rotation Pathologies Using Particle Swarm Optimization and K-Means Algorithms.

Journal of clinical medicine, 7(4): pii:jcm7040065.

The aim of this article is to investigate pathological subjects from a population through different physical factors. To achieve this, particle swarm optimization (PSO) and K-means (KM) clustering algorithms have been combined (PSO-KM). Datasets provided by the literature were divided into three clusters based on age and weight parameters and each one of right tibial external rotation (RTER), right tibial internal rotation (RTIR), left tibial external rotation (LTER), and left tibial internal rotation (LTIR) values were divided into three types as Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3 (Type 2 is non-pathological (normal) and the other two types are pathological (abnormal)), respectively. The rotation values of every subject in any cluster were noted. Then the algorithm was run and the produced values were also considered. The values of the produced algorithm, the PSO-KM, have been compared with the real values. The hybrid PSO-KM algorithm has been very successful on the optimal clustering of the tibial rotation types through the physical criteria. In this investigation, Type 2 (pathological subjects) is of especially high predictability and the PSO-KM algorithm has been very successful as an operation system for clustering and optimizing the tibial motion data assessments. These research findings are expected to be very useful for health providers, such as physiotherapists, orthopedists, and so on, in which this consequence may help clinicians to appropriately designing proper treatment schedules for patients.

RevDate: 2018-07-04

Rowland JA, Nicholson E, Murray NJ, et al (2018)

Selecting and applying indicators of ecosystem collapse for risk assessments.

Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology [Epub ahead of print].

Ongoing ecosystem degradation and transformation are major threats to biodiversity. Measuring ecosystem change toward collapse relies on monitoring indicators that quantify key ecological processes. Yet little guidance is available on selection and use of indicators for ecosystem risk assessment. We reviewed indicator use in ecological studies of ecosystem collapse in marine pelagic and temperate forest ecosystems. We examined indicator-selection methods, indicator types (geographic distribution, abiotic, biotic), methods of assessing multiple indicators, and temporal quality of time series. We compared how these factors were applied in the ecological studies with how they were applied in risk assessments by using the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Ecosystems (RLE), for which indicators are used to estimate risk of ecosystem collapse. Ecological studies and RLE assessments rarely reported how indicators were selected, particularly in terrestrial ecosystems. Few ecological studies and RLE assessments quantified ecosystem change based on all 3 indicator types, and indicators types used differed between marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Several studies used indices or multivariate analyses to assess multiple indicators simultaneously, but RLE assessments did not because as RLE guidelines advise against them. Most studies and RLE assessments used time-series data that spanned at least 30 years, which increases the probability of reliably detecting change. Limited use of indicator-selection protocols and infrequent use of all 3 indicator types may hamper accurate detection of change. To improve the value of risk assessments for informing policy and management, we recommend using explicit protocols, including conceptual models, to identify and select indicators; a range of indicators spanning distributional, abiotic, and biotic features; indices and multivariate analyses with extreme care until guidelines are developed; time series with sufficient data to increase ability to accurately diagnose directional change; data from multiple sources to support assessments; and explicitly reporting steps in the assessment process.

RevDate: 2018-03-07

Orwig DA, Boucher P, Paynter I, et al (2018)

The potential to characterize ecological data with terrestrial laser scanning in Harvard Forest, MA.

Interface focus, 8(2):20170044.

Contemporary terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) is being used widely in forest ecology applications to examine ecosystem properties at increasing spatial and temporal scales. Harvard Forest (HF) in Petersham, MA, USA, is a long-term ecological research (LTER) site, a National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) location and contains a 35 ha plot which is part of Smithsonian Institution's Forest Global Earth Observatory (ForestGEO). The combination of long-term field plots, eddy flux towers and the detailed past historical records has made HF very appealing for a variety of remote sensing studies. Terrestrial laser scanners, including three pioneering research instruments: the Echidna Validation Instrument, the Dual-Wavelength Echidna Lidar and the Compact Biomass Lidar, have already been used both independently and in conjunction with airborne laser scanning data and forest census data to characterize forest dynamics. TLS approaches include three-dimensional reconstructions of a plot over time, establishing the impact of ice storm damage on forest canopy structure, and characterizing eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) canopy health affected by an invasive insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae). Efforts such as those deployed at HF are demonstrating the power of TLS as a tool for monitoring ecological dynamics, identifying emerging forest health issues, measuring forest biomass and capturing ecological data relevant to other disciplines. This paper highlights various aspects of the ForestGEO plot that are important to current TLS work, the potential for exchange between forest ecology and TLS, and emphasizes the strength of combining TLS data with long-term ecological field data to create emerging opportunities for scientific study.

RevDate: 2018-03-09

Thomas Clark A, Lehman C, D Tilman (2018)

Identifying mechanisms that structure ecological communities by snapping model parameters to empirically observed tradeoffs.

Ecology letters, 21(4):494-505.

Theory predicts that interspecific tradeoffs are primary determinants of coexistence and community composition. Using information from empirically observed tradeoffs to augment the parametrisation of mechanism-based models should therefore improve model predictions, provided that tradeoffs and mechanisms are chosen correctly. We developed and tested such a model for 35 grassland plant species using monoculture measurements of three species characteristics related to nitrogen uptake and retention, which previous experiments indicate as important at our site. Matching classical theoretical expectations, these characteristics defined a distinct tradeoff surface, and models parameterised with these characteristics closely matched observations from experimental multi-species mixtures. Importantly, predictions improved significantly when we incorporated information from tradeoffs by 'snapping' characteristics to the nearest location on the tradeoff surface, suggesting that the tradeoffs and mechanisms we identify are important determinants of local community structure. This 'snapping' method could therefore constitute a broadly applicable test for identifying influential tradeoffs and mechanisms.

RevDate: 2018-05-22
CmpDate: 2018-05-22

Lindenmayer DB, Blanchard W, Blair D, et al (2018)

Empirical relationships between tree fall and landscape-level amounts of logging and fire.

PloS one, 13(2):e0193132 pii:PONE-D-17-36747.

Large old trees are critically important keystone structures in forest ecosystems globally. Populations of these trees are also in rapid decline in many forest ecosystems, making it important to quantify the factors that influence their dynamics at different spatial scales. Large old trees often occur in forest landscapes also subject to fire and logging. However, the effects on the risk of collapse of large old trees of the amount of logging and fire in the surrounding landscape are not well understood. Using an 18-year study in the Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria, we quantify relationships between the probability of collapse of large old hollow-bearing trees at a site and the amount of logging and the amount of fire in the surrounding landscape. We found the probability of collapse increased with an increasing amount of logged forest in the surrounding landscape. It also increased with a greater amount of burned area in the surrounding landscape, particularly for trees in highly advanced stages of decay. The most likely explanation for elevated tree fall with an increasing amount of logged or burned areas in the surrounding landscape is change in wind movement patterns associated with cutblocks or burned areas. Previous studies show that large old hollow-bearing trees are already at high risk of collapse in our study area. New analyses presented here indicate that additional logging operations in the surrounding landscape will further elevate that risk. Current logging prescriptions require the protection of large old hollow-bearing trees on cutblocks. We suggest that efforts to reduce the probability of collapse of large old hollow-bearing trees on unlogged sites will demand careful landscape planning to limit the amount of timber harvesting in the surrounding landscape.

RevDate: 2018-03-27

Morabito G, Mazzocchi MG, Salmaso N, et al (2018)

Plankton dynamics across the freshwater, transitional and marine research sites of the LTER-Italy Network. Patterns, fluctuations, drivers.

The Science of the total environment, 627:373-387.

A first synoptic and trans-domain overview of plankton dynamics was conducted across the aquatic sites belonging to the Italian Long-Term Ecological Research Network (LTER-Italy). Based on published studies, checked and complemented with unpublished information, we investigated phytoplankton and zooplankton annual dynamics and long-term changes across domains: from the large subalpine lakes to mountain lakes and artificial lakes, from lagoons to marine coastal ecosystems. This study permitted identifying common and unique environmental drivers and ecological functional processes controlling seasonal and long-term temporal course. The most relevant patterns of plankton seasonal succession were revealed, showing that the driving factors were nutrient availability, stratification regime, and freshwater inflow. Phytoplankton and mesozooplankton displayed a wide interannual variability at most sites. Unidirectional or linear long-term trends were rarely detected but all sites were impacted across the years by at least one, but in many case several major stressor(s): nutrient inputs, meteo-climatic variability at the local and regional scale, and direct human activities at specific sites. Different climatic and anthropic forcings frequently co-occurred, whereby the responses of plankton communities were the result of this environmental complexity. Overall, the LTER investigations are providing an unparalleled framework of knowledge to evaluate changes in the aquatic pelagic systems and management options.

RevDate: 2018-02-17

Dessu SB, Price RM, Troxler TG, et al (2018)

Effects of sea-level rise and freshwater management on long-term water levels and water quality in the Florida Coastal Everglades.

Journal of environmental management, 211:164-176.

Since the 1880s, hydrological modification of the Greater Florida Everglades has reduced water levels and flows in Everglades National Park (ENP). The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program (CERP) began in 2000 to restore pre-drainage flows and preserve the natural landscape of the Everglades. However, sea-level rise (SLR) was not considered in the development of CERP. We used long-term data (2001-2016) from the Florida Coastal Everglades-Long Term Ecological Research Program to quantify and model the spatial dynamics of water levels, salinity, and nutrients in response to changes in climate, freshwater management and SLR in the Shark River Slough (SRS), ENP. Results indicate that fresh-to-marine head difference (FMHD) was the single most important factor affecting marine-to-freshwater hydrologic connectivity and transport of salinity and phosphorous upstream from the Gulf of Mexico. Sea-level has increasingly exceeded ground surface elevation at the most downstream freshwater site in SRS, thereby reducing the FMHD. We showed a higher impact of SLR in the dry season when there was practically no freshwater inflow to raise FMHD. We also demonstrated effectiveness of inflow depends more on the monthly distribution than the total annual volume. Hence, the impact per unit volume of inflow is significantly higher in the dry season in preventing high salinity and marine-derived nutrient levels. We advocate that FMHD needs to be factored into water management decisions to reduce adverse and likely irreversible effects of SLR throughout the Everglades landscape.

RevDate: 2018-03-23
CmpDate: 2018-03-23

Maccherini S, Bacaro G, M Marignani (2018)

Beneficial effects of restoration practices can be thwarted by climate extremes.

The Science of the total environment, 626:851-859.

The impacts of climate extremes on species, communities and ecosystems have become critical concerns to science and society. Under a changing climate, how restoration outcomes are affected by extreme climate variables is a largely unknown topic. We analyzed the effects of experimental factors (grazing and sowing of native species), extreme climate events (intense precipitation and extreme temperatures indexes) and their combination on the restoration progress of a dry, calcareous grassland in Tuscany (Italy) with a 1 year before/15 years continuous annual monitoring after, control/impact (BACI) experiment. Grazing had a beneficial effect on the diversity of the grassland, while sowing had a limited impact. The climatic index that most affected the entire plant community composition was the number of very heavy precipitation days. The interaction of grazing and extreme climatic indexes had a significant detrimental effect on restoration outcomes, increasing the cover of synanthropic and Cosmopolitan-Subcosmopolitan generalist species and decreasing the cover of more valuable species such endemic species. In the richest grazed plots, species richness showed a lower sensitivity to the average precipitation per wet day but in grazed site, restoration outcomes can be negatively influenced by the intensification of precipitation and temperature extremes. In a context of progressive tropicalization of the Mediterranean area, to assist managers setting achievable restoration goals, restoration practitioners should consider that climate extremes might interfere with the beneficial effects of restoration practices.

RevDate: 2018-01-03

Greenville AC, Wardle GM, CR Dickman (2017)

Desert mammal populations are limited by introduced predators rather than future climate change.

Royal Society open science, 4(11):170384 pii:rsos170384.

Climate change is predicted to place up to one in six species at risk of extinction in coming decades, but extinction probability is likely to be influenced further by biotic interactions such as predation. We use structural equation modelling to integrate results from remote camera trapping and long-term (17-22 years) regional-scale (8000 km2) datasets on vegetation and small vertebrates (greater than 38 880 captures) to explore how biotic processes and two key abiotic drivers influence the structure of a diverse assemblage of desert biota in central Australia. We use our models to predict how changes in rainfall and wildfire are likely to influence the cover and productivity of the dominant vegetation and the impacts of predators on their primary rodent prey over a 100-year timeframe. Our results show that, while vegetation cover may decline due to climate change, the strongest negative effect on prey populations in this desert system is top-down suppression from introduced predators.

RevDate: 2018-02-21

Mollenhauer H, Kasner M, Haase P, et al (2018)

Long-term environmental monitoring infrastructures in Europe: observations, measurements, scales, and socio-ecological representativeness.

The Science of the total environment, 624:968-978.

The challenges posed by climate and land use change are increasingly complex, with ever-increasing and accelerating impacts on the global environmental system. The establishment of an internationally harmonized, integrated, and long-term operated environmental monitoring infrastructure is one of the major challenges of modern environmental research. Increased efforts are currently being made in Europe to establish such a harmonized pan-European observation infrastructure, and the European network of Long-Term Ecological Research sites - LTER-Europe - is of particular importance. By evaluating 477 formally accredited LTER-Europe sites, this study gives an overview of the current distribution of these infrastructures and the present condition of long-term environmental research in Europe. We compiled information on long-term biotic and abiotic observations and measurements and examined the representativeness in terms of continental biogeographical and socio-ecological gradients. The results were used to identify gaps in both measurements and coverage of the aforementioned gradients. Furthermore, an overview of the current state of the LTER-Europe observation strategies is given. The latter forms the basis for investigating the comparability of existing LTER-Europe monitoring concepts both in terms of observational design as well as in terms of the scope of the environmental compartments, variables and properties covered.

RevDate: 2018-06-26

Petrie MD, Peters DPC, Yao J, et al (2018)

Regional grassland productivity responses to precipitation during multiyear above- and below-average rainfall periods.

Global change biology, 24(5):1935-1951.

There is considerable uncertainty in the magnitude and direction of changes in precipitation associated with climate change, and ecosystem responses are also uncertain. Multiyear periods of above- and below-average rainfall may foretell consequences of changes in rainfall regime. We compiled long-term aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP) and precipitation (PPT) data for eight North American grasslands, and quantified relationships between ANPP and PPT at each site, and in 1-3 year periods of above- and below-average rainfall for mesic, semiarid cool, and semiarid warm grassland types. Our objective was to improve understanding of ANPP dynamics associated with changing climatic conditions by contrasting PPT-ANPP relationships in above- and below-average PPT years to those that occurred during sequences of multiple above- and below-average years. We found differences in PPT-ANPP relationships in above- and below-average years compared to long-term site averages, and variation in ANPP not explained by PPT totals that likely are attributed to legacy effects. The correlation between ANPP and current- and prior-year conditions changed from year to year throughout multiyear periods, with some legacy effects declining, and new responses emerging. Thus, ANPP in a given year was influenced by sequences of conditions that varied across grassland types and climates. Most importantly, the influence of prior-year ANPP often increased with the length of multiyear periods, whereas the influence of the amount of current-year PPT declined. Although the mechanisms by which a directional change in the frequency of above- and below-average years imposes a persistent change in grassland ANPP require further investigation, our results emphasize the importance of legacy effects on productivity for sequences of above- vs. below-average years, and illustrate the utility of long-term data to examine these patterns.

RevDate: 2018-02-08

Jourdan J, O'Hara RB, Bottarin R, et al (2018)

Effects of changing climate on European stream invertebrate communities: A long-term data analysis.

The Science of the total environment, 621:588-599.

Long-term observations on riverine benthic invertebrate communities enable assessments of the potential impacts of global change on stream ecosystems. Besides increasing average temperatures, many studies predict greater temperature extremes and intense precipitation events as a consequence of climate change. In this study we examined long-term observation data (10-32years) of 26 streams and rivers from four ecoregions in the European Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) network, to investigate invertebrate community responses to changing climatic conditions. We used functional trait and multi-taxonomic analyses and combined examinations of general long-term changes in communities with detailed analyses of the impact of different climatic drivers (i.e., various temperature and precipitation variables) by focusing on the response of communities to climatic conditions of the previous year. Taxa and ecoregions differed substantially in their response to climate change conditions. We did not observe any trend of changes in total taxonomic richness or overall abundance over time or with increasing temperatures, which reflects a compensatory turnover in the composition of communities; sensitive Plecoptera decreased in response to warmer years and Ephemeroptera increased in northern regions. Invasive species increased with an increasing number of extreme days which also caused an apparent upstream community movement. The observed changes in functional feeding group diversity indicate that climate change may be associated with changes in trophic interactions within aquatic food webs. These findings highlight the vulnerability of riverine ecosystems to climate change and emphasize the need to further explore the interactive effects of climate change variables with other local stressors to develop appropriate conservation measures.

RevDate: 2018-06-28

Cianelli D, D'Alelio D, Uttieri M, et al (2017)

Disentangling physical and biological drivers of phytoplankton dynamics in a coastal system.

Scientific reports, 7(1):15868 pii:10.1038/s41598-017-15880-x.

This proof-of-concept study integrates the surface currents measured by high-frequency coastal radars with plankton time-series data collected at a fixed sampling point from the Mediterranean Sea (MareChiara Long Term Ecological Research site in the Gulf of Naples) to characterize the spatial origin of phytoplankton assemblages and to scrutinize the processes ruling their dynamics. The phytoplankton community generally originated from the coastal waters whereby species succession was mainly regulated by biological factors (life-cycle processes, species-specific physiological performances and inter-specific interactions). Physical factors, e.g. the alternation between coastal and offshore waters and the horizontal mixing, were also important drivers of phytoplankton dynamics promoting diversity maintenance by i) advecting species from offshore and ii) diluting the resident coastal community so as to dampen resource stripping by dominant species and thereby increase the numerical importance of rarer species. Our observations highlight the resilience of coastal communities, which may favour their persistence over time and the prevalence of successional events over small time and space scales. Although coastal systems may act differently from one another, our findings provide a conceptual framework to address physical-biological interactions occurring in coastal basins, which can be generalised to other areas.

RevDate: 2018-02-06
CmpDate: 2018-02-06

Bland LM, Regan TJ, Dinh MN, et al (2017)

Using multiple lines of evidence to assess the risk of ecosystem collapse.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 284(1863):.

Effective ecosystem risk assessment relies on a conceptual understanding of ecosystem dynamics and the synthesis of multiple lines of evidence. Risk assessment protocols and ecosystem models integrate limited observational data with threat scenarios, making them valuable tools for monitoring ecosystem status and diagnosing key mechanisms of decline to be addressed by management. We applied the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems criteria to quantify the risk of collapse of the Meso-American Reef, a unique ecosystem containing the second longest barrier reef in the world. We collated a wide array of empirical data (field and remotely sensed), and used a stochastic ecosystem model to backcast past ecosystem dynamics, as well as forecast future ecosystem dynamics under 11 scenarios of threat. The ecosystem is at high risk from mass bleaching in the coming decades, with compounding effects of ocean acidification, hurricanes, pollution and fishing. The overall status of the ecosystem is Critically Endangered (plausibly Vulnerable to Critically Endangered), with notable differences among Red List criteria and data types in detecting the most severe symptoms of risk. Our case study provides a template for assessing risks to coral reefs and for further application of ecosystem models in risk assessment.

RevDate: 2017-12-01

Schmidt JE, Weese DJ, JA Lau (2017)

Long-term agricultural management does not alter the evolution of a soybean-rhizobium mutualism.

Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America, 27(8):2487-2496.

Leguminous crops, like soybeans, often rely on biologically fixed nitrogen via their symbiosis with rhizobia rather than synthetic nitrogen inputs. However, agricultural management practices may influence the effectiveness of biological nitrogen fixation (BNF). While the ecological effects of agricultural management on rhizobia have received some attention, the evolutionary effects have been neglected in comparison. Resource mutualism theory predicts that evolutionary effects are likely, however. Both fertilization and tillage are predicted to cause the evolution of rhizobia that provide fewer growth benefits to plant hosts and fix less nitrogen. This study capitalized on a Long-Term Ecological Research experiment that manipulated agricultural management practices in a corn-soybean-wheat row crop system for 24 yr to investigate whether four different management practices (conventional, no-till, low chemical input, and certified organic) cause rhizobia populations to evolve to become more or less cooperative. We found little evidence that 24 yr of varying management practices affect the net growth benefits rhizobia provide to soybeans, although soybean plants inoculated with soils collected from conventional treatments tended to have lower BNF rates than plants inoculated with soils from the no-till, low input, and organic management treatments. These findings suggest that rhizobia will continue to provide adequate growth benefits to leguminous crops in the future, even in intensively managed systems.

RevDate: 2018-06-14
CmpDate: 2018-06-14

Alignier A, S Aviron (2017)

Time-lagged response of carabid species richness and composition to past management practices and landscape context of semi-natural field margins.

Journal of environmental management, 204(Pt 1):282-290.

Field margins are key features for the maintenance of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes. Little is known about the effects of management practices of old semi-natural field margins, and their historical dimension regarding past management practices and landscape context is rarely considered. In this paper, the relative influence of recent and past management practices and landscape context (during the last five years) were assessed on the local biodiversity (species richness and composition) of carabid assemblages of field margins in agricultural landscapes of northwestern France. The results showed that recent patterns of carabid species richness and composition were best explained by management practices and landscape context measured four or five years ago. It suggests the existence of a time lag in the response of carabid assemblages to past environmental conditions of field margins. The relative contribution of past management practices and past landscape context varied depending on the spatial scale at which landscape context was taken into account. Carabid species richness was higher in grazed or sprayed field margins probably due to increased heterogeneity in habitat conditions. Field margins surrounded by grasslands and crops harbored species associated with open habitats whilst forest species dominated field margins surrounded by woodland. Landscape effect was higher at fine spatial scale, within 50 m around field margins. The present study highlights the importance of considering time-lagged responses of biodiversity when managing environment. It also suggests that old semi-natural field margins should not be considered as undisturbed habitats but more as management units being part of farming activities in agricultural landscapes, as for arable fields.

RevDate: 2018-07-20

Bradford MA, Leiserowitz A, Feinberg G, et al (2017)

Long-Term Research in Ecology and Evolution (LTREE): 2015 survey data.

Ecology, 98(11):2980.

To systematically assess views on contributions and future activities for long-term research in ecology and evolution (LTREE), we conducted and here provide data responses and associated metadata for a survey of ecological and evolutionary scientists. The survey objectives were to: (1) Identify and prioritize research questions that are important to address through long-term, ecological field experiments; and (2) understand the role that these experiments might play in generating and applying ecological and evolutionary knowledge. The survey was developed adhering to the standards of the American Association for Public Opinion Research. It was administered online using Qualtrics Survey Software. Survey creation was a multi-step process, with questions and format developed and then revised with, for example, input from an external advisory committee comprising senior and junior ecological and evolutionary researchers. The final questionnaire was released to ~100 colleagues to ensure functionality and then fielded 2 d later (January 7th , 2015). Two professional societies distributed it to their membership, including the Ecological Society of America, and it was posted to three list serves. The questionnaire was available through February 8th 2015 and completed by 1,179 respondents. The distribution approach targeted practicing ecologists and evolutionary biologists in the U.S. Quantitative (both ordinal and categorical) closed-ended questions used a predefined set of response categories, facilitating direct comparison across all respondents. Qualitative, open-ended questions, provided respondents the opportunity to develop their own answers. We employed quantitative questions to score views on the extent to which long-term experimental research has contributed to understanding in ecology and evolutionary biology; its role compared to other approaches (e.g., short-term experiments); justifications for and caveats to long-term experiments; and the relative importance of incentives for conducting long-term research. Qualitative questions were used to assess community views on the most important topics and questions for long-term research to address, and primary incentives and challenges to realizing this work. Finally, demographic data were collected to determine if views were conditional on such things as years of experience and field of expertise. The final questionnaire and all responses are provided for unrestricted use.

RevDate: 2018-02-06
CmpDate: 2018-02-06

Dallas T, Huang S, Nunn C, et al (2017)

Estimating parasite host range.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 284(1861):.

Estimating the number of host species that a parasite can infect (i.e. host range) provides key insights into the evolution of host specialism and is a central concept in disease ecology. Host range is rarely estimated in real systems, however, because variation in species relative abundance and the detection of rare species makes it challenging to confidently estimate host range. We applied a non-parametric richness indicator to estimate host range in simulated and empirical data, allowing us to assess the influence of sampling heterogeneity and data completeness. After validating our method on simulated data, we estimated parasite host range for a sparsely sampled global parasite occurrence database (Global Mammal Parasite Database) and a repeatedly sampled set of parasites of small mammals from New Mexico (Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research Program). Estimation accuracy varied strongly with parasite taxonomy, number of parasite occurrence records, and the shape of host species-abundance distribution (i.e. the dominance and rareness of species in the host community). Our findings suggest that between 20% and 40% of parasite host ranges are currently unknown, highlighting a major gap in our understanding of parasite specificity, host-parasite network structure, and parasite burdens.

RevDate: 2017-12-01

Foster CN, Barton PS, Robinson NM, et al (2017)

Effects of a large wildfire on vegetation structure in a variable fire mosaic.

Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America, 27(8):2369-2381.

Management guidelines for many fire-prone ecosystems highlight the importance of maintaining a variable mosaic of fire histories for biodiversity conservation. Managers are encouraged to aim for fire mosaics that are temporally and spatially dynamic, include all successional states of vegetation, and also include variation in the underlying "invisible mosaic" of past fire frequencies, severities, and fire return intervals. However, establishing and maintaining variable mosaics in contemporary landscapes is subject to many challenges, one of which is deciding how the fire mosaic should be managed following the occurrence of large, unplanned wildfires. A key consideration for this decision is the extent to which the effects of previous fire history on vegetation and habitats persist after major wildfires, but this topic has rarely been investigated empirically. In this study, we tested to what extent a large wildfire interacted with previous fire history to affect the structure of forest, woodland, and heath vegetation in Booderee National Park in southeastern Australia. In 2003, a summer wildfire burned 49.5% of the park, increasing the extent of recently burned vegetation (<10 yr post-fire) to more than 72% of the park area. We tracked the recovery of vegetation structure for nine years following the wildfire and found that the strength and persistence of fire effects differed substantially between vegetation types. Vegetation structure was modified by wildfire in forest, woodland, and heath vegetation, but among-site variability in vegetation structure was reduced only by severe fire in woodland vegetation. There also were persistent legacy effects of the previous fire regime on some attributes of vegetation structure including forest ground and understorey cover, and woodland midstorey and overstorey cover. For example, woodland midstorey cover was greater on sites with higher fire frequency, irrespective of the severity of the 2003 wildfire. Our results show that even after a large, severe wildfire, underlying fire histories can contribute substantially to variation in vegetation structure. This highlights the importance of ensuring that efforts to reinstate variation in vegetation fire age after large wildfires do not inadvertently reduce variation in vegetation structure generated by the underlying invisible mosaic.

RevDate: 2018-08-14
CmpDate: 2018-08-14

Listopad CMCS, Köbel M, Príncipe A, et al (2018)

The effect of grazing exclusion over time on structure, biodiversity, and regeneration of high nature value farmland ecosystems in Europe.

The Science of the total environment, 610-611:926-936.

Climate change and increasing socio-economic pressure is placing many ecosystems of high ecological and economic value at risk. This is particularly urgent in dryland ecosystems, such as the montado, a multifunctional savannah-like system heavily modeled by grazing. There is still an ongoing debate about the trade-offs between livestock grazing and the potential for ecosystem regeneration. While it is consensual that overgrazing hinders the development of the shrubs and trees in this system, the effects of undergrazing or grazing exclusion are unclear. This study provides the unique opportunity to study the impact of grazing on compositional and structural biodiversity by examining the ecological chronosequence in a long-term ecological research site, located in Portugal, where grazing exclusion was controlled for over 15years. As the threat of intensification persists, even in areas where climate shifts are evident, there is a critical need to understand if and how the montado might recover by removing grazing pressure. We evaluate succession on structural and compositional diversity after grazing pressure is removed from the landscape at 5, 10, and 15years post-cattle exclusion and contrast it with currently grazed plots. A LiDAR-derived structural diversity index (LHDI), a surrogate of ecosystem structure and function first developed for the pine-grassland woodland systems, is used to quantify the impact of grazing exclusion on structure and natural regeneration. The distribution of the vegetation, particularly those of the herbaceous and shrub strata (>10≤150cm), presents statistically significant changes. The LHDI closely mimics the compositional biodiversity of the shrubs, with an increase in diversity with increased years without grazing. Under present climate conditions, both shrub regeneration and the establishment of tree saplings were strongly promoted by grazing exclusion, which has important management implications for the long-term sustainability of montado systems.

RevDate: 2018-07-10

Abuhelou F, Mansuy-Huault L, Lorgeoux C, et al (2017)

Suspended particulate matter collection methods influence the quantification of polycyclic aromatic compounds in the river system.

Environmental science and pollution research international, 24(28):22717-22729.

In this study, we compared the influence of two different collection methods, filtration (FT) and continuous flow field centrifugation (CFC), on the concentration and the distribution of polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) in suspended particulate matter (SPM) occurring in river waters. SPM samples were collected simultaneously with FT and CFC from a river during six sampling campaigns over 2 years, covering different hydrological contexts. SPM samples were analyzed to determine the concentration of PACs including 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), 11 oxygenated PACs (O-PACs), and 5 nitrogen PACs (N-PACs). Results showed significant differences between the two separation methods. In half of the sampling campaigns, PAC concentrations differed from a factor 2 to 30 comparing FT and CFC-collected SPMs. The PAC distributions were also affected by the separation method. FT-collected SPM were enriched in 2-3 ring PACs whereas CFC-collected SPM had PAC distributions dominated by medium to high molecular weight compounds typical of combustion processes. This could be explained by distinct cut-off threshold of the two separation methods and strongly suggested the retention of colloidal and/or fine matter on glass-fiber filters particularly enriched in low molecular PACs. These differences between FT and CFC were not systematic but rather enhanced by high water flow rates.

RevDate: 2018-07-31
CmpDate: 2018-07-31

Carcaillet C, O Blarquez (2017)

Fire ecology of a tree glacial refugium on a nunatak with a view on Alpine glaciers.

The New phytologist, 216(4):1281-1290.

In paleoecology, the function of biomass as a fire driver has become a focus of attention in cold ecosystems, and concerns have been raised about climate in this context. Little is known about the fire frequency and fire-plant relationships during glaciation when woodlands were limited and the climate was cold. Fire history and tree biomass were reconstructed from sedimentary charcoal and macroremains, respectively, archived in lake sediments from the western Alps. Two nunataks were investigated, both with lacustrine sediments covering the last 21 000 yr at least. During the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and the Lateglacial, fires occurred only on the nunatak sheltering woody plants. Cembra pine (Pinus cembra) and larch (Larix decidua) survived above glaciers during the LGM, thus evidencing a biological refugium and supporting the nunatak theory. We highlighted a long-term relationship between fires and dominant trees over the last 21 000 yr, where fire frequencies track the global climate and the local changes in tree biomass. Glacial climate (dry, cold) does not rule out fires. Fuel load and composition were significant fire drivers, with cembra pine dominating during colder periods with rare fires, and larch during the warmer Holocene with frequent fires. These findings increase knowledge of fire ecology in cold environments, and open perspectives in tree population genetics by considering new areas of tree glacial refugia in Europe.

RevDate: 2018-06-27
CmpDate: 2018-03-15

Flower H, Rains M, C Fitz (2017)

Visioning the Future: Scenarios Modeling of the Florida Coastal Everglades.

Environmental management, 60(5):989-1009.

In this paper, we provide screening-level analysis of plausible Everglades ecosystem response by 2060 to sea level rise (0.50 m) interacting with macroclimate change (1.5 °C warming, 7% increase in evapotranspiration, and rainfall that either increases or decreases by 10%). We used these climate scenarios as input to the Ecological Landscape Model to simulate changes to seven interactive hydro-ecological metrics. Mangrove forest and other marine influences migrated up to 15 km inland in both scenarios, delineated by the saltwater front. Freshwater habitat area decreased by 25-30% under our two climate change scenarios and was largely replaced by mangroves and, in the increased rainfall scenario, open water as well. Significant mangroves drowned along northern Florida Bay in both climate change scenarios due to sea level rise. Increased rainfall of 10% provided significant benefits to the spatial and temporal salinity regime within the marine-influenced zone, providing a more gradual and natural adjustment for at-risk flora and fauna. However, increased rainfall also increased the risk of open water, due to water depths that inhibited mangrove establishment and reduced peat accumulation rates. We infer that ecological effects related to sea level rise may occur in the extreme front-edge of saltwater intrusion, that topography will control the incursion of this zone as sea level rises, and that differences in freshwater availability will have ecologically significant effects on ecosystem resilience through the temporal and spatial pattern of salinity changes.

RevDate: 2017-11-29
CmpDate: 2017-11-29

Pietrelli L, Di Gennaro A, Menegoni P, et al (2017)

Pervasive plastisphere: First record of plastics in egagropiles (Posidonia spheroids).

Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987), 229:1032-1036.

The ability of Posidonia oceanica spheroids (egagropiles, EG) to incorporate plastics was investigated along the central Italy coast. Plastics were found in the 52.84% of the egagropiles collected (n = 685). The more represented size of plastics has range within 1-1.5 cm, comparable to the size of natural fibres. Comparing plastics occurring both in EG and in surrounding sand, Polyethylene, Polyester and Nylon were the most abundant polymers in EG, while PSE, PE, PP and PET were the most represented in sand. In particular PE and PP were significantly more represented in sand, while PE, Nylon, Polyester and microfibers (as pills) were more represented in EG. Within plastics found in EG, 26.9% were microfibers as small pills (<1 cm), mainly composed of polyamide, polyester, cotton and PET mixing. These microfibers might be produced by discharges from washing machines and currently represents an emerging pollutant with widespread distribution in marine and freshwater ecosystems.

RevDate: 2018-04-04
CmpDate: 2017-12-18

Maizel AC, Li J, CK Remucal (2017)

Relationships Between Dissolved Organic Matter Composition and Photochemistry in Lakes of Diverse Trophic Status.

Environmental science & technology, 51(17):9624-9632.

The North Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research site includes seven lakes in northern Wisconsin that vary in hydrology, trophic status, and landscape position. We examine the molecular composition of dissolved organic matter (DOM) within these lakes using Fourier transform-ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) and quantify DOM photochemical activity using probe compounds. Correlations between the relative intensity of individual molecular formulas and reactive species production demonstrate the influence of DOM composition on photochemistry. For example, highly aromatic, tannin-like formulas correlate positively with triplet formation rates, but negatively with triplet quantum yields, as waters enriched in highly aromatic formulas exhibit much higher rates of light absorption, but only slightly higher rates of triplet production. While commonly utilized optical properties also correlate with DOM composition, the ability of FT-ICR MS to characterize DOM subpopulations provides unique insight into the mechanisms through which DOM source and environmental processing determine composition and photochemical activity.

RevDate: 2018-07-24

Caddy-Retalic S, Andersen AN, Aspinwall MJ, et al (2017)

Bioclimatic transect networks: Powerful observatories of ecological change.

Ecology and evolution, 7(13):4607-4619 pii:ECE32995.

Transects that traverse substantial climate gradients are important tools for climate change research and allow questions on the extent to which phenotypic variation associates with climate, the link between climate and species distributions, and variation in sensitivity to climate change among biomes to be addressed. However, the potential limitations of individual transect studies have recently been highlighted. Here, we argue that replicating and networking transects, along with the introduction of experimental treatments, addresses these concerns. Transect networks provide cost-effective and robust insights into ecological and evolutionary adaptation and improve forecasting of ecosystem change. We draw on the experience and research facilitated by the Australian Transect Network to demonstrate our case, with examples, to clarify how population- and community-level studies can be integrated with observations from multiple transects, manipulative experiments, genomics, and ecological modeling to gain novel insights into how species and systems respond to climate change. This integration can provide a spatiotemporal understanding of past and future climate-induced changes, which will inform effective management actions for promoting biodiversity resilience.

RevDate: 2017-07-14

Engel A, Piontek J, Metfies K, et al (2017)

Inter-annual variability of transparent exopolymer particles in the Arctic Ocean reveals high sensitivity to ecosystem changes.

Scientific reports, 7(1):4129 pii:10.1038/s41598-017-04106-9.

Transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) are a class of marine gel particles and important links between surface ocean biology and atmospheric processes. Derived from marine microorganisms, these particles can facilitate the biological pumping of carbon dioxide to the deep sea, or act as cloud condensation and ice nucleation particles in the atmosphere. Yet, environmental controls on TEP abundance in the ocean are poorly known. Here, we investigated some of these controls during the first multiyear time-series on TEP abundance for the Fram Strait, the Atlantic gateway to the Central Arctic Ocean. Data collected at the Long-Term Ecological Research observatory HAUSGARTEN during 2009 to 2014 indicate a strong biological control with highest abundance co-occurring with the prymnesiophyte Phaeocystis pouchetii. Higher occurrence of P. pouchetii in the Arctic Ocean has previously been related to northward advection of warmer Atlantic waters, which is expected to increase in the future. Our study highlights the role of plankton key species in driving climate relevant processes; thus, changes in plankton distribution need to be accounted for when estimating the ocean's biogeochemical response to global change.

RevDate: 2018-05-14

Maunoury-Danger F, Felten V, Bojic C, et al (2018)

Metal release from contaminated leaf litter and leachate toxicity for the freshwater crustacean Gammarus fossarum.

Environmental science and pollution research international, 25(12):11281-11294.

Industrialization has left large surfaces of contaminated soils, which may act as a source of pollution for contiguous ecosystems, either terrestrial or aquatic. When polluted sites are recolonized by plants, dispersion of leaf litter might represent a non-negligible source of contaminants, especially metals. To evaluate the risks associated to contaminated leaf litter dispersion in aquatic ecosystems, we first measured the dynamics of metal loss from leaf litter during a 48-h experimental leaching. We used aspen (Populus tremula L.), a common tree species on these polluted sites, and collected leaf litter on three polluted sites (settling pond of a former steel mill) and three control sites situated in the same geographic area. Then, toxicity tests were carried out on individuals of a key detritivore species widely used in ecotoxicology tests, Gammarus fossarum (Crustacea, Amphipoda), with uncontaminated and contaminated leaf litter leachates, using a battery of biomarkers selected for their sensitivity to metallic stress. Leaf litters collected on polluted sites exhibited not only significantly higher cadmium and zinc concentrations but also lower lignin contents. All leaf litters released high amounts of chemical elements during the leaching process, especially potassium and magnesium, and, in a lesser extent, phosphorus, calcium, and trace metals (copper, cadmium, and zinc but not lead). Toxicity tests revealed that the most important toxic effects measured on G. fossarum were due to leaf litter leachates by themselves, whatever the origin of litter (from polluted or control sites), confirming the toxicity of such substances, probably due to their high content in phenolic compounds. Small additional toxic effects of leachates from contaminated leaf litters were only evidenced on gammarid lipid peroxidation, indicating that contaminated leaf litter leachates might be slightly more toxic than uncontaminated ones, but in a very reduced manner. Further studies will be required to verify if these patterns are generalizable to other species and to investigate the effects of contaminated leaf litter ingestion by consumers on aquatic food webs. Nevertheless, our results do not permit to exclude potential chronic effects of an exposure to contaminated leaf litter leachates in aquatic ecosystems.

RevDate: 2018-05-14

Rollin M, Coulaud R, Danger M, et al (2018)

Additive effect of calcium depletion and low resource quality on Gammarus fossarum (Crustacea, Amphipoda) life history traits.

Environmental science and pollution research international, 25(12):11264-11280.

Gammarus fossarum is an often-abundant crustacean detritivore that contributes importantly to leaf litter breakdown in oligotrophic, mainly heterotrophic, headwater streams. This species requires large amounts of Ca to moult, thus allowing growth and reproduction. Because resource quality is tightly coupled to the organism's growth and physiological status, we hypothesised that low Ca concentration [Ca] and low food resource quality (low phosphorus [P] and/or reduced highly unsaturated fatty acid [HUFA] contents) would interactively impair molecular responses (gene expression) and reproduction of G. fossarum. To investigate the effects of food resources quality, we experimentally manipulated the P content of sycamore leaves and also used diatoms because they contain high amounts of HUFAs. Three resource quality treatments were tested: low quality (LQ, unmanipulated leaves: low P content), high quality 1 (HQ1; P-manipulated leaves: high P content), and high quality 2 (unmanipulated leaves supplemented with a pellet containing diatoms: high P and HUFA content). Naturally, demineralised stream water was supplemented with CaSO4 to obtain three Ca concentrations (2, 3.5, and 10.5 mg Ca L-1). For 21 days, pairs of G. fossarum were individually exposed to one of the nine treatments (3 [Ca] × 3 resource qualities). At the individual level, strong and significant delays in moult stage were observed in gammarids exposed to lower [Ca] and to lower resource quality, with additive effects lengthening the duration of the reproductive cycle. Effects at the molecular level were investigated by measuring expression of 12 genes involved in energy production, translation, or Ca or P homeostasis. Expression of ATP synthase beta (higher in HQ2), calcified cuticle protein (higher in HQ1 and HQ2), and tropomyosin (higher in HQ2 compared to HQ1) was significantly affected by resource quality, and significant additive effects on Ca transporting ATPase expression were induced by [Ca] and resource quality (higher for low [Ca] and higher resource quality). These results highlight the potential drastic deleterious effects of water [Ca] depletion on G. fossarum physiology, populations, and ecosystem functioning, especially in oligotrophic environments.

RevDate: 2018-07-23

Firbank LG, Bertora C, Blankman D, et al (2017)

Towards the co-ordination of terrestrial ecosystem protocols across European research infrastructures.

Ecology and evolution, 7(11):3967-3975 pii:ECE32997.

The study of ecosystem processes over multiple scales of space and time is often best achieved using comparable data from multiple sites. Yet, long-term ecological observatories have often developed their own data collection protocols. Here, we address this problem by proposing a set of ecological protocols suitable for widespread adoption by the ecological community. Scientists from the European ecological research community prioritized terrestrial ecosystem parameters that could benefit from a more consistent approach to data collection within the resources available at most long-term ecological observatories. Parameters for which standard methods are in widespread use, or for which methods are evolving rapidly, were not selected. Protocols were developed by domain experts, building on existing methods where possible, and refined through a process of field testing and training. They address above-ground plant biomass; decomposition; land use and management; leaf area index; soil mesofaunal diversity; soil C and N stocks, and greenhouse gas emissions from soils. These complement existing methods to provide a complete assessment of ecological integrity. These protocols offer integrated approaches to ecological data collection that are low cost and are starting to be used across the European Long Term Ecological Research community.

RevDate: 2018-08-08
CmpDate: 2017-11-29

Schlaich AE, Bouten W, Bretagnolle V, et al (2017)

A circannual perspective on daily and total flight distances in a long-distance migratory raptor, the Montagu's harrier, Circus pygargus.

Biology letters, 13(6):.

Long-distance migrants are particularly recognized for the distances covered on migration, yet little is known about the distances they cover during the rest of the year. GPS-tracks of 29 Montagu's harriers from breeding areas in France, The Netherlands and Denmark showed that harriers fly between 35 653 and 88 049 km yr-1, of which on average only 28.5% is on migration. Mean daily distances during migration were 296 km d-1 in autumn and 252 km d-1 in spring. Surprisingly, males' daily distances during breeding (217 km d-1) were close to those during migration, whereas breeding females moved significantly less (101 km d-1) than males. In terms of flight distance, the breeding season seemed nearly as demanding as migration periods for males. During the six winter months, both sexes moved less (114 and 128 km d-1 for females and males, respectively) than during migration. Harriers therefore covered shorter daily distances during winter which might allow birds to compensate for the more demanding phases of migration and breeding.

RevDate: 2017-08-16

Heinsch SC, Otto-Hanson L, Hsu SY, et al (2017)

Genome Sequences for Streptomyces spp. Isolated from Disease-Suppressive Soils and Long-Term Ecological Research Sites.

Genome announcements, 5(23): pii:5/23/e00493-17.

We report here the high-quality genome sequences of three Streptomyces spp. isolated as part of a long-term study of microbial soil ecology. Streptomyces sp. strain GS93-23 was isolated from naturally disease-suppressive soil (DSS) in Grand Rapids, MN, and Streptomyces sp. strains S3-4 and 3211-3 were isolated from experimental plots in the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve (CCESR).

RevDate: 2017-11-09
CmpDate: 2017-11-09

Pietrelli L, Poeta G, Battisti C, et al (2017)

Characterization of plastic beach debris finalized to its removal: a proposal for a recycling scheme.

Environmental science and pollution research international, 24(19):16536-16542.

Characterization of beach debris is crucial to assess the strategy to answer questions such as recycling. With the aim to assess its use in a recycling scheme, in this note, we carried out a physical and chemical characterization of plastic litter from a pilot beach in Central Italy, using the FT-IR spectroscopy and thermoanalysis. Fourteen polymers, having mainly thermoplastic origin, were identified; among them, the most represented are polyethylene (41.7%) and polypropylene (36.9%). Chemical and mechanical degradation were clearly observed by an IR spectrum. The thermogravimetric analysis curve of the plastic blend shows the melting point at 120-140 °C, and degradation occurs almost totally in a one-step process within 300-500 °C. The high heating value of the plastic debris is 43.9 MJ kg-1. Polymer blends obtained by beach debris show mechanical properties similar to the virgin high-density polyethylene polymer. Following the beach plastic debris characterization, a recycling scheme was suggested.

RevDate: 2018-07-20

Kaspari M, Bujan J, Weiser MD, et al (2017)

Biogeochemistry drives diversity in the prokaryotes, fungi, and invertebrates of a Panama forest.

Ecology, 98(8):2019-2028.

Humans are both fertilizing the world and depleting its soils, decreasing the diversity of aquatic ecosystems and terrestrial plants in the process. We know less about how nutrients shape the abundance and diversity of the prokaryotes, fungi, and invertebrates of Earth's soils. Here we explore this question in the soils of a Panama forest subject to a 13-yr fertilization with factorial combinations of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) and a separate micronutrient cocktail. We contrast three hypotheses linking biogeochemistry to abundance and diversity. Consistent with the Stress Hypothesis, adding N suppressed the abundance of invertebrates and the richness of all three groups of organisms by ca. 1 SD or more below controls. Nitrogen addition plots were 0.8 pH units more acidic with 18% more exchangeable aluminum, which is toxic to both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. These stress effects were frequently reversed, however, when N was added with P (for prokaryotes and invertebrates) and with added K (for fungi). Consistent with the Abundance Hypothesis, adding P generally increased prokaryote and invertebrate diversity, and adding K enhanced invertebrate diversity. Also consistent with the Abundance Hypothesis, increases in invertebrate abundance generated increases in richness. We found little evidence for the Competition Hypothesis: that single nutrients suppressed diversity by favoring a subset of high nutrient specialists, and that nutrient combinations suppressed diversity even more. Instead, combinations of nutrients, and especially the cation/micronutrient treatment, yielded the largest increases in richness in the two eukaryote groups. In sum, changes in soil biogeochemistry revealed a diversity of responses among the three dominant soil groups, positive synergies among nutrients, and-in contrast with terrestrial plants-the frequent enhancement of soil biodiversity.

RevDate: 2018-03-29
CmpDate: 2018-03-29

Kanbar HJ, Montargès-Pelletier E, Losson B, et al (2017)

Iron mineralogy as a fingerprint of former steelmaking activities in river sediments.

The Science of the total environment, 599-600:540-553.

Submerged sediment cores were collected upstream of a dam in the Orne River, northeastern France. This dam was built in the context of steelmaking to constitute a water reservoir for blast furnace cooling and wet cleaning of furnace smokes. The dam also enhanced sediment deposition in the upstream zone. This study was performed to unravel the contamination status of sediments and to evidence possible contribution sources. The sediment layers were analyzed for water content, grain size, chemical composition, crystalline phases at a bulk scale and poorly crystalline and amorphous phases at a sub-micrometer scale. Visual aspect, texture, color, and chemical and mineralogical analyses showed that the settled sediments were mainly composed of fine black matter, certainly comprising steelmaking by-products. Those materials were highly enriched with Fe, Zn, Pb and other trace metals, except for a relatively thin layer of surficial sediments that had settled more recently. Bulk mineralogy revealed crystalline iron minerals, such as magnetite, goethite, wuestite and pyrite, in the deep layers of the sediment cores. Furthermore, microscopic investigations evidenced the presence of ferrospheres, goethite nanoparticles and newly formed Fe-aluminosilicates; all originating from the former steelmaking facilities. The variation of iron mineralogy, combined with specific chemical profiles and other sediment features, demonstrate the different contributions that constitute the sediment deposit. Furthermore, chemical and mineralogical features of goethite and Fe-aluminosilicates could be used as a fingerprint for such contaminated sediments.

RevDate: 2017-09-19
CmpDate: 2017-09-19

Blair DP, Blanchard W, Banks SC, et al (2017)

Non-linear growth in tree ferns, Dicksonia antarctica and Cyathea australis.

PloS one, 12(5):e0176908 pii:PONE-D-16-31845.

Tree ferns are an important structural component of forests in many countries. However, because their regeneration is often unrelated to major disturbances, their age is often difficult to determine. In addition, rates of growth may not be uniform, which further complicates attempts to determine their age. In this study, we measured 5 years of growth of Cyathea australis and Dicksonia antarctica after a large wildfire in 2009 in south-eastern Australia. We found growth rates of these two species were unaffected by aspect and elevation but slope had a minor effect with D. antarctica growing 0.3mm faster for each additional degree of slope. Geographic location influenced growth in both species by up to 12 - 14mm/yr. The most consistent factor influencing growth rate, however, was initial height at the time of the 2009 fire; a finding consistent in both species and all geographic locations. For both tree fern species, individuals that were taller at the commencement of the study had greater overall growth for the duration of the study. This effect did not decrease even among the tallest tree ferns in our study (up to 6 metres tall). Overall, Cyathea australis averaged 73 (± 22)mm/year of growth (± 1SD), with the rate increasing 5mm/yr per metre of additional height. Dicksonia antarctica averaged 33 (± 13)mm/year, increasing by 6mm/yr/m. Growth rates dependent on initial height were unexpected and we discuss possible reasons for this finding. Variable growth rates also suggest that common age estimation methods of dividing height by average growth rate are likely to underestimate the age of short tree ferns, while overestimating the age of tall tree ferns, particularly if they have been subject to a fire.

RevDate: 2017-09-06
CmpDate: 2017-09-06

Di Capua I, Maffucci F, Pannone R, et al (2017)

Molecular phylogeny of Oncaeidae (Copepoda) using nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS rDNA).

PloS one, 12(4):e0175662 pii:PONE-D-16-33262.

Copepods belonging to the Oncaeidae family are commonly and abundantly found in marine zooplankton. In the Mediterranean Sea, forty-seven oncaeid species occur, of which eleven in the Gulf of Naples. In this Gulf, several Oncaea species were morphologically analysed and described at the end of the XIX century by W. Giesbrecht. In the same area, oncaeids are being investigated over seasonal and inter-annual scales at the long-term coastal station LTER-MC. In the present work, we identified six oncaeid species using the nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacers (ITS rDNA) and the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (mtCOI). Phylogenetic analyses based on these two genomic regions validated the sisterhood of the genera Triconia and the Oncaea sensu stricto. ITS1 and ITS2 phylogenies produced incongruent results about the position of Oncaea curta, calling for further investigations on this species. We also characterised the ITS2 region by secondary structure predictions and found that all the sequences analysed presented the distinct eukaryotic hallmarks. A Compensatory Base Change search corroborated the close relationship between O. venusta and O. curta and between O. media and O. venusta already identified by ITS phylogenies. The present results, which stem from the integration of molecular and morphological taxonomy, represent an encouraging step towards an improved knowledge of copepod biodiversity: The two complementary approaches, when applied to long-term copepod monitoring, will also help to better understanding their genetic variations and ecological niches of co-occurring species.

RevDate: 2017-10-20
CmpDate: 2017-08-17

Assaad A, Pontvianne S, MN Pons (2017)

Assessment of organic pollution of an industrial river by synchronous fluorescence and UV-vis spectroscopy: the Fensch River (NE France).

Environmental monitoring and assessment, 189(5):229.

To rapidly monitor the surface water quality in terms of organic pollution of an industrial river undergoing restoration, optical methods (UV-visible spectrometry and fluorescence) were applied in parallel to classical physical-chemical analyses. UV-visible spectra were analyzed using the maximum of the second derivative at 225 nm (related to nitrates), specific absorbance at 254 nm (SUVA254), and the spectral slope between 275 and 295 nm (S 275-295) (related to the aromaticity and molecular weight of dissolved organic carbon). The synchronous fluorescence spectra (wavelength difference = 50 nm) exhibited a high variability in the composition of dissolved organic material between the upstream and downstream sections and also versus time. The principal components analysis of the entire set of synchronous fluorescence spectra helped to define three river sections with different pollution characteristics. Spectral decomposition was applied to the two most upstream sections: five fluorophores, classical in rivers impacted by domestic sewage and related to protein-like (λ ex = 280 nm) and humic-like fluorescence (M-type with λ ex ≈ 305-310 nm and C-type with λ ex ≥ 335 nm), were identified. The irregular shape of the synchronous fluorescence spectra in the most downstream section is likely due to organic pollutants of industrial origin; however, their variability and the complexity of the spectra did not allow the further elucidation of their nature.

RevDate: 2017-07-05

Browning DM, Maynard JJ, Karl JW, et al (2017)

Breaks in MODIS time series portend vegetation change: verification using long-term data in an arid grassland ecosystem.

Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America, 27(5):1677-1693.

Frequency and severity of extreme climatic events are forecast to increase in the 21st century. Predicting how managed ecosystems may respond to climatic extremes is intensified by uncertainty associated with knowing when, where, and how long effects of extreme events will be manifest in an ecosystem. In water-limited ecosystems with high inter-annual variability in rainfall, it is important to be able to distinguish responses that result from seasonal fluctuations in rainfall from long-term directional increases or decreases in precipitation. A tool that successfully distinguishes seasonal from directional biomass responses would allow land managers to make informed decisions about prioritizing mitigation strategies, allocating human resource monitoring efforts, and mobilizing resources to withstand extreme climatic events. We leveraged long-term observations (2000-2013) of quadrat-level plant biomass at multiple locations across a semiarid landscape in southern New Mexico to verify the use of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) time series derived from 250-m Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data as a proxy for changes in aboveground productivity. This period encompassed years of sustained drought (2000-2003) and record-breaking high rainfall (2006 and 2008) followed by subsequent drought years (2011 through 2013) that resulted in a restructuring of plant community composition in some locations. Our objective was to decompose vegetation patterns derived from MODIS NDVI over this period into contributions from (1) the long-term trend, (2) seasonal cycle, and (3) unexplained variance using the Breaks for Additive Season and Trend (BFAST) model. BFAST breakpoints in NDVI trend and seasonal components were verified with field-estimated biomass at 15 sites that differed in species richness, vegetation cover, and soil properties. We found that 34 of 45 breaks in NDVI trend reflected large changes in mean biomass and 16 of 19 seasonal breaks accompanied changes in the contribution to biomass by perennial and/or annual grasses. The BFAST method using satellite imagery proved useful for detecting previously reported ground-based changes in vegetation in this arid ecosystem. We demonstrate that time series analysis of NDVI data holds potential for monitoring landscape condition in arid ecosystems at the large spatial scales needed to differentiate responses to a changing climate from responses to seasonal variability in rainfall.

RevDate: 2017-08-16

Helm N, Essl F, Mirtl M, et al (2017)

Multiple environmental changes drive forest floor vegetation in a temperate mountain forest.

Ecology and evolution, 7(7):2155-2168 pii:ECE32801.

Human-induced changes of the environment and their possible impacts on temperate forest understory plant communities have been examined in many studies. However, the relative contribution of individual environmental factors to these changes in the herb layer is still unclear. In this study, we used vegetation survey data covering a time period of 21 years and collected from 143 permanent plots in the Northern Limestone Alps, Austria. Data on soil chemistry (49 plots), light condition (51 plots), soil temperature and moisture (four and six plots), disturbance (all plots), climate (one station in a clearing area), and airborne sulfur (S) and nitrogen (N) deposition (two forest stands) were available for analyses. We used these data together with plot mean Ellenberg indicator values in a path analysis to attribute their relative contributions to observed vegetation changes. Our analysis reveals a strong directional shift of the forest understory plant community. We found strong evidence for a recovery of the ground-layer vegetation from acidification as response to decreased S deposition. We did not observe a community response to atmospheric N deposition, but we found a response to altered climatic conditions (thermophilization and drying). The path analysis revealed that changes in the light regime, which were related to small-scale disturbances, had most influence on herb layer community shifts. Thermophilization and drying were identified as drivers of understory community changes independent of disturbance events.

RevDate: 2017-09-07
CmpDate: 2017-09-07

Greenville AC, Dickman CR, GM Wardle (2017)

75 years of dryland science: Trends and gaps in arid ecology literature.

PloS one, 12(4):e0175014 pii:PONE-D-16-38264.

Growth in the publication of scientific articles is occurring at an exponential rate, prompting a growing need to synthesise information in a timely manner to combat urgent environmental problems and guide future research. Here, we undertake a topic analysis of dryland literature over the last 75 years (8218 articles) to identify areas in arid ecology that are well studied and topics that are emerging. Four topics-wetlands, mammal ecology, litter decomposition and spatial modelling, were identified as 'hot topics' that showed higher than average growth in publications from 1940 to 2015. Five topics-remote sensing, climate, habitat and spatial, agriculture and soils-microbes, were identified as 'cold topics', with lower than average growth over the survey period, but higher than average numbers of publications. Topics in arid ecology clustered into seven broad groups on word-based similarity. These groups ranged from mammal ecology and population genetics, broad-scale management and ecosystem modelling, plant ecology, agriculture and ecophysiology, to populations and paleoclimate. These patterns may reflect trends in the field of ecology more broadly. We also identified two broad research gaps in arid ecology: population genetics, and habitat and spatial research. Collaborations between population genetics and ecologists and investigations of ecological processes across spatial scales would contribute profitably to the advancement of arid ecology and to ecology more broadly.

RevDate: 2017-11-03
CmpDate: 2017-06-13

Poeta G, Fanelli G, Pietrelli L, et al (2017)

Plastisphere in action: evidence for an interaction between expanded polystyrene and dunal plants.

Environmental science and pollution research international, 24(12):11856-11859.

Among the many threats that can be recorded on sandy beaches, plastic litter represents a serious problem for these complex and endangered ecosystems. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is increasingly abundant as a form of plastic litter in natural environments, particularly along shores and waterways. Nevertheless, despite the great number of scientific articles concerning the impact of litter on animal species, there are still no research focusing on the interaction between this type of beach litter and other biodiversity components. In this work, we reported the first evidence of interactions between EPS and living plants along a sandy beach of Tyrrhenian central Italy. We sampled 540 EPS items, mainly deriving from fishery activities (>75%). We obtained evidence for an interaction between EPS and plants: about 5% of items resulted perforated or have roots of three species (Phragmites australis, Spartina versicolor, Anthemis maritima). Apparently, we did not observed a relationship between plants and EPS items size. More research is needed to assess if the plant assemblage growing on EPS is random or if peculiar substrate exerts some sort of selection on the plant community.

RevDate: 2017-08-16

Ferrero R, Lima M, Davis AS, et al (2017)

Weed Diversity Affects Soybean and Maize Yield in a Long Term Experiment in Michigan, USA.

Frontiers in plant science, 8:236.

Managing production environments in ways that promote weed community diversity may enhance both crop production and the development of a more sustainable agriculture. This study analyzed data of productivity of maize (corn) and soybean in plots in the Main Cropping System Experiment (MCSE) at the W. K. Kellogg Biological Station Long-Term Ecological Research (KBS-LTER) in Michigan, USA, from 1996 to 2011. We used models derived from population ecology to explore how weed diversity, temperature, and precipitation interact with crop yields. Using three types of models that considered internal and external (climate and weeds) factors, with additive or non-linear variants, we found that changes in weed diversity were associated with changes in rates of crop yield increase over time for both maize and soybeans. The intrinsic capacity for soybean yield increase in response to the environment was greater under more diverse weed communities. Soybean production risks were greatest in the least weed diverse systems, in which each weed species lost was associated with progressively greater crop yield losses. Managing for weed community diversity, while suppressing dominant, highly competitive weeds, may be a helpful strategy for supporting long term increases in soybean productivity. In maize, there was a negative and non-additive response of yields to the interaction between weed diversity and minimum air temperatures. When cold temperatures constrained potential maize productivity through limited resources, negative interactions with weed diversity became more pronounced. We suggest that: (1) maize was less competitive in cold years allowing higher weed diversity and the dominance of some weed species; or (2) that cold years resulted in increased weed richness and prevalence of competitive weeds, thus reducing crop yields. Therefore, we propose to control dominant weed species especially in the years of low yield and extreme minimum temperatures to improve maize yields. Results of our study indicate that through the proactive management of weed diversity, it may be possible to promote both high productivity of crops and environmental sustainability.

RevDate: 2017-08-16

Hoffmann K, Hassenrück C, Salman-Carvalho V, et al (2017)

Response of Bacterial Communities to Different Detritus Compositions in Arctic Deep-Sea Sediments.

Frontiers in microbiology, 8:266.

Benthic deep-sea communities are largely dependent on particle flux from surface waters. In the Arctic Ocean, environmental changes occur more rapidly than in other ocean regions, and have major effects on the export of organic matter to the deep sea. Because bacteria constitute the majority of deep-sea benthic biomass and influence global element cycles, it is important to better understand how changes in organic matter input will affect bacterial communities at the Arctic seafloor. In a multidisciplinary ex situ experiment, benthic bacterial deep-sea communities from the Long-Term Ecological Research Observatory HAUSGARTEN were supplemented with different types of habitat-related detritus (chitin, Arctic algae) and incubated for 23 days under in situ conditions. Chitin addition caused strong changes in community activity, while community structure remained similar to unfed control incubations. In contrast, the addition of phytodetritus resulted in strong changes in community composition, accompanied by increased community activity, indicating the need for adaptation in these treatments. High-throughput sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene and 16S rRNA revealed distinct taxonomic groups of potentially fast-growing, opportunistic bacteria in the different detritus treatments. Compared to the unfed control, Colwelliaceae, Psychromonadaceae, and Oceanospirillaceae increased in relative abundance in the chitin treatment, whereas Flavobacteriaceae, Marinilabiaceae, and Pseudoalteromonadaceae increased in the phytodetritus treatments. Hence, these groups may constitute indicator taxa for the different organic matter sources at this study site. In summary, differences in community structure and in the uptake and remineralization of carbon in the different treatments suggest an effect of organic matter quality on bacterial diversity as well as on carbon turnover at the seafloor, an important feedback mechanism to be considered in future climate change scenarios.

RevDate: 2017-03-07

Mason TJ, Keith DA, AD Letten (2017)

Detecting state changes for ecosystem conservation with long-term monitoring of species composition.

Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America, 27(2):458-468.

Effective conservation requires an understanding not only of contemporary vegetation distributions in the landscape, but also cognizance of vegetation transitions over time with the goal of maintaining persistence of all states within the landscape. Using a state and transition model framework, we investigated temporal transitions over 31 years in species composition among five upland swamp vegetation communities in southeastern Australia. We applied fuzzy clustering to document transitions across communities; evaluated the resilience and resistance of communities to change; and explored the relationship between ecosystem states and major environmental factors posited to structure the system. We also evaluated the predictive ability of an established vegetation dynamics model. We found that community composition remained stable or underwent reversible or directional transitions depending on the vegetation type. Wetter communities (Ti-tree thicket and Cyperoid heath) were more stable (i.e., resistant) while drier communities showed a greater propensity to transition (i.e., had lower resistance) under the observed disturbance regime (low variance fire intervals). The resilience of drier communities differed under this regime, with Banksia thicket showing reversible compositional change, while Restioid heath and Sedgeland showed directional change. In accord with an established conceptual model, we found that communities were distributed along a hydrological gradient. In addition, vegetation structure, along with light penetration to ground level, differentiated communities. However, internal dynamics of drier communities were complex: differences in fire regime (penultimate fire interval in 2014 and number of fires since 1965) were unable to predict differences in community membership among sites. Aspects of the fire regime are expected to be more important predictors if fire intervals vary more strongly among sites in the future. Fuzzy clustering of compositional data allows managers to track community transitions over time and facilitates planned interventions for conservation purposes.

RevDate: 2017-08-16

Marti R, Ribun S, Aubin JB, et al (2017)

Human-Driven Microbiological Contamination of Benthic and Hyporheic Sediments of an Intermittent Peri-Urban River Assessed from MST and 16S rRNA Genetic Structure Analyses.

Frontiers in microbiology, 8:19.

Rivers are often challenged by fecal contaminations. The barrier effect of sediments against fecal bacteria was investigated through the use of a microbial source tracking (MST) toolbox, and by Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) of V5-V6 16S rRNA gene (rrs) sequences. Non-metric multi-dimensional scaling analysis of V5-V6 16S rRNA gene sequences differentiated bacteriomes according to their compartment of origin i.e., surface water against benthic and hyporheic sediments. Classification of these reads showed the most prevalent operating taxonomic units (OTU) to be allocated to Flavobacterium and Aquabacterium. Relative numbers of Gaiella, Haliangium, and Thermoleophilum OTU matched the observed differentiation of bacteriomes according to river compartments. OTU patterns were found impacted by combined sewer overflows (CSO) through an observed increase in diversity from the sewer to the hyporheic sediments. These changes appeared driven by direct transfers of bacterial contaminants from wastewaters but also by organic inputs favoring previously undetectable bacterial groups among sediments. These NGS datasets appeared more sensitive at tracking community changes than MST markers. The human-specific MST marker HF183 was strictly detected among CSO-impacted surface waters and not river bed sediments. The ruminant-specific DNA marker was more broadly distributed but intense bovine pollution was required to detect transfers from surface water to benthic and hyporheic sediments. Some OTU showed distribution patterns in line with these MST datasets such as those allocated to the Aeromonas, Acinetobacter, and Pseudomonas. Fecal indicators (Escherichia coli and total thermotolerant coliforms) were detected all over the river course but their concentrations were not correlated with MST ones. Overall, MST and NGS datasets suggested a poor colonization of river sediments by bovine and sewer bacterial contaminants. No environmental outbreak of these bacterial contaminants was detected.

RevDate: 2017-10-14
CmpDate: 2017-09-07

Barnett AA, Silla JM, de Oliveira T, et al (2017)

Run, hide, or fight: anti-predation strategies in endangered red-nosed cuxiú (Chiropotes albinasus, Pitheciidae) in southeastern Amazonia.

Primates; journal of primatology, 58(2):353-360.

Although primate predation is rarely observed, a series of primate anti-predation strategies have been described. Energetic costs of such strategies can vary from high-cost mobbing, via less costly alarm calling, to low-cost furtive concealment. Here we report the anti-predation strategies of red-nosed cuxiú, Chiropotes albinasus, based on direct observations from four study sites in southeastern Brazilian Amazonia. Over a collective period of 1255 fieldwork hours, we observed nine direct interactions between raptors (all potential predators) and red-nosed cuxiús. Of these, one (11%) resulted in predation. Raptors involved were: Harpia harpyja (four events), Leucopternis sp. (two events), Spizaëtus tyrannus (one event), and unidentified large raptors (two events). Predation attempts occurred in flooded-forest and terra firme rainforest, were directed at both adult and non-adult cuxiús, and involved both adult and juvenile raptors. Anti-predation strategies adopted by the cuxiús included: (1) group defence and mobbing behaviour (two occasions), (2) dropping into dense sub-canopy (seven occasions), (3) alarm calling (eight occasions), and (4) fleeing to, and hiding in, dense vegetation (eight occasions). During each encounter at least two of these behaviours were recorded. These are the first published records of predation, predation attempts, and anti-predator behaviour involving red-nosed cuxiú.

RevDate: 2018-04-04
CmpDate: 2017-10-26

Arroyo B, Mougeot F, V Bretagnolle (2017)

Individual variation in behavioural responsiveness to humans leads to differences in breeding success and long-term population phenotypic changes.

Ecology letters, 20(3):317-325.

Whether human disturbance can lead to directional selection and phenotypic change in behaviour in species with limited behavioural plasticity is poorly understood in wild animal populations. Using a 19-year study on Montagu's harrier, we report a long-term increase in boldness towards humans during nest visits. The probability of females fleeing or being passive during nest visits decreased, while defence intensity steadily increased over the study period. These behavioural responses towards humans were significantly repeatable. The phenotypic composition of the breeding population changed throughout the study period (4-5 harrier generations), with a gradual disappearance of shy individuals, leading to a greater proportion of bolder ones and a more behaviourally homogeneous population. We further show that nest visit frequency increased nest failure probability and reduced productivity of shy females, but not of bold ones. Long-term research or conservation programmes needing nest visits can therefore lead to subtle but relevant population compositional changes that require further attention.

RevDate: 2017-08-16

Hermann SL, Xue S, Rowe L, et al (2016)

Thermally moderated firefly activity is delayed by precipitation extremes.

Royal Society open science, 3(12):160712 pii:rsos160712.

The timing of events in the life history of temperate insects is most typically primarily cued by one of two drivers: photoperiod or temperature accumulation over the growing season. However, an insect's phenology can also be moderated by other drivers like rainfall or the phenology of its host plants. When multiple drivers of phenology interact, there is greater potential for phenological asynchronies to arise between an organism and those with which it interacts. We examined the phenological patterns of a highly seasonal group of fireflies (Photinus spp., predominantly P. pyralis) over a 12-year period (2004-2015) across 10 plant communities to determine whether interacting drivers could explain the variability observed in the adult flight activity density (i.e. mating season) of this species. We found that temperature accumulation was the primary driver of phenology, with activity peaks usually occurring at a temperature accumulation of approximately 800 degree days (base 10°C); however, our model found this peak varied by nearly 180 degree-day units among years. This variation could be explained by a quadratic relationship with the accumulation of precipitation in the growing season; in years with either high or low precipitation extremes at our study site, flight activity was delayed. More fireflies were captured in general in herbaceous plant communities with minimal soil disturbance (alfalfa and no-till field crop rotations), but only weak interactions occurred between within-season responses to climatic variables and plant community. The interaction we observed between temperature and precipitation accumulation suggests that, although climate warming has the potential to disrupt phenology of many organisms, changes to regional precipitation patterns can magnify these disruptions.

RevDate: 2018-07-17

Hudson LN, Newbold T, Contu S, et al (2017)

The database of the PREDICTS (Projecting Responses of Ecological Diversity In Changing Terrestrial Systems) project.

Ecology and evolution, 7(1):145-188 pii:ECE32579.

The PREDICTS project-Projecting Responses of Ecological Diversity In Changing Terrestrial Systems (www.predicts.org.uk)-has collated from published studies a large, reasonably representative database of comparable samples of biodiversity from multiple sites that differ in the nature or intensity of human impacts relating to land use. We have used this evidence base to develop global and regional statistical models of how local biodiversity responds to these measures. We describe and make freely available this 2016 release of the database, containing more than 3.2 million records sampled at over 26,000 locations and representing over 47,000 species. We outline how the database can help in answering a range of questions in ecology and conservation biology. To our knowledge, this is the largest and most geographically and taxonomically representative database of spatial comparisons of biodiversity that has been collated to date; it will be useful to researchers and international efforts wishing to model and understand the global status of biodiversity.

RevDate: 2017-11-04
CmpDate: 2017-08-07

Four B, Arce E, Danger M, et al (2017)

Catchment land use-dependent effects of barrage fishponds on the functioning of headwater streams.

Environmental science and pollution research international, 24(6):5452-5468.

Extensive fish production systems in continental areas are often created by damming headwater streams. However, these lentic systems favour autochthonous organic matter production. As headwater stream functioning is essentially based on allochthonous organic matter (OM) supply, the presence of barrage fishponds on headwater streams might change the main food source for benthic communities. The goal of this study was thus to identify the effects of barrage fishponds on the functioning of headwater streams. To this end, we compared leaf litter breakdown (a key ecosystem function in headwater streams), their associated invertebrate communities and fungal biomass at sites upstream and downstream of five barrage fishponds in two dominant land use systems (three in forested catchments and two in agricultural catchments). We observed significant structural and functional differences between headwater stream ecosystems in agricultural catchments and those in forested catchments. Leaf litter decay was more rapid in forest streams, with a moderate, but not significant, increase in breakdown rate downstream from the barrage fishponds. In agricultural catchments, the trend was opposite with a 2-fold lower leaf litter breakdown rate at downstream sites compared to upstream sites. Breakdown rates observed at all sites were closely correlated with fungal biomass and shredder biomass. No effect of barrage fishponds were observed in this study concerning invertebrate community structure or functional feeding groups especially in agricultural landscapes. In forest streams, we observed a decrease in organic pollution (OP)-intolerant taxa at downstream sites that was correlated with an increase in OP-tolerant taxa. These results highlighted that the influence of barrage fishponds on headwater stream functioning is complex and land use dependent. It is therefore necessary to clearly understand the various mechanisms (competition for food resources, complementarities between autochthonous and allochthonous OM) that control ecosystem functioning in different contexts in order to optimize barrage fishpond management.

RevDate: 2017-01-04

Briske DD, Bestelmeyer BT, Brown JR, et al (2017)

Assessment of USDA-NRCS rangeland conservation programs: recommendation for an evidence-based conservation platform.

Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America, 27(1):94-104.

The Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) was created in response to a request from the Office of Management and Budget that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) document the societal benefits anticipated to accrue from a major increase in conservation funding authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill. A comprehensive evaluation of the efficacy of rangeland conservation practices cost-shared with private landowners was unable to evaluate conservation benefits because outcomes were seldom documented. Four interrelated suppositions are presented to examine the causes underlying minimal documentation of conservations outcomes. These suppositions are (1) the benefits of conservation practices are considered a certainty so that documentation in not required, (2) there is minimal knowledge exchange between the USDA-NRCS and research organizations, (3) and a paucity of conservation-relevant science, as well as (4) inadequate technical support for land owners following implementation of conservation practices. We then follow with recommendations to overcome potential barriers to documentation of conservation outcomes identified for each supposition. Collectively, this assessment indicates that the existing conservation practice standards are insufficient to effectively administer large conservation investments on rangelands and that modification of these standards alone will not achieve the goals explicitly stated by CEAP. We recommend that USDA-NRCS modify its conservation programs around a more comprehensive and integrative platform that is capable of implementing evidence-based conservation. Collaborative monitoring organized around landowner-agency-scientist partnerships would represent the focal point of a Conservation Program Assessment Network (CPAN). The primary network objective would be to establish missing information feedback loops between conservation practices and their agricultural and environmental outcomes to promote learning, adaptive management, and innovation. Network information would be archived and made available to guide other, related conservation programs in relevant ecoregions. Restructuring conservation programs as we recommend would (1) provide site specific information, learning, and accountability that has been requested by CEAP and (2) further advance balanced delivery of agricultural production and environmental quality goals.

RevDate: 2018-07-17

Farjalla VF, González AL, Céréghino R, et al (2016)

Terrestrial support of aquatic food webs depends on light inputs: a geographically-replicated test using tank bromeliads.

Ecology, 97(8):2147-2156.

Food webs of freshwater ecosystems can be subsidized by allochthonous resources. However, it is still unknown which environmental factors regulate the relative consumption of allochthonous resources in relation to autochthonous resources. Here, we evaluated the importance of allochthonous resources (litterfall) for the aquatic food webs in Neotropical tank bromeliads, a naturally replicated aquatic microcosm. Aquatic invertebrates were sampled in more than 100 bromeliads within either open or shaded habitats and within five geographically distinct sites located in four different countries. Using stable isotope analyses, we determined that allochthonous sources comprised 74% (±17%) of the food resources of aquatic invertebrates. However, the allochthonous contribution to aquatic invertebrates strongly decreased from shaded to open habitats, as light incidence increased in the tanks. The density of detritus in the tanks had no impact on the importance of allochthonous sources to aquatic invertebrates. This overall pattern held for all invertebrates, irrespective of the taxonomic or functional group to which they belonged. We concluded that, over a broad geographic range, aquatic food webs of tank bromeliads are mostly allochthonous-based, but the relative importance of allochthonous subsidies decreases when light incidence favors autochthonous primary production. These results suggest that, for other freshwater systems, some of the between-study variation in the importance of allochthonous subsidies may similarly be driven by the relative availability of autochthonous resources.

RevDate: 2018-07-17

Moreno-de Las Heras M, Turnbull L, J Wainwright (2016)

Seed-bank structure and plant-recruitment conditions regulate the dynamics of a grassland-shrubland Chihuahuan ecotone.

Ecology, 97(9):2303-2318.

Large areas of desert grasslands in the southwestern United States have shifted to sparse shrublands dominated by drought-tolerant woody species over the last 150 yr, accompanied by accelerated soil erosion. An important step toward the understanding of patterns in species dominance and vegetation change at desert grassland-shrubland transitions is the study of environmental limitations imposed by the shrub-encroachment phenomenon on plant establishment. Here, we analyze the structure of soil seed banks, environmental limitations for seed germination (i.e., soil-water availability and temperature), and simulated seedling emergence and early establishment of dominant species (black grama, Bouteloua eriopoda, and creosotebush, Larrea tridentata) across a Chihuahuan grassland-shrubland ecotone (Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, USA). Average viable seed density in soils across the ecotone is generally low (200-400 seeds/m2), although is largely concentrated in densely vegetated areas (with peaks up to 800-1,200 seeds/m2 in vegetated patches). Species composition in the seed bank is strongly affected by shrub encroachment, with seed densities of grass species sharply decreasing in shrub-dominated sites. Environmental conditions for seed germination and seedling emergence are synchronized with the summer monsoon. Soil-moisture conditions for seedling establishment of B. eriopoda take place with a recurrence interval ranging between 5 and 8 yr for grassland and shrubland sites, respectively, and are favored by strong monsoonal precipitation. Limited L. tridentata seed dispersal and a narrow range of rainfall conditions for early seedling establishment (50-100 mm for five to six consecutive weeks) constrain shrub-recruitment pulses to localized and episodic decadal events (9-25 yr recurrence intervals) generally associated with late-summer rainfall. Re-establishment of B. eriopoda in areas now dominated by L. tridentata is strongly limited by the lack of seeds and decreased plant-available soil moisture for seedling establishment.

RevDate: 2018-07-17

Davies TJ, Urban MC, Rayfield B, et al (2016)

Deconstructing the relationships between phylogenetic diversity and ecology: a case study on ecosystem functioning.

Ecology, 97(9):2212-2222.

Recent studies have supported a link between phylogenetic diversity and various ecological properties including ecosystem function. However, such studies typically assume that phylogenetic branches of equivalent length are more or less interchangeable. Here we suggest that there is a need to consider not only branch lengths but also their placement on the phylogeny. We demonstrate how two common indices of network centrality can be used to describe the evolutionary distinctiveness of network elements (nodes and branches) on a phylogeny. If phylogenetic diversity enhances ecosystem function via complementarity and the representation of functional diversity, we would predict a correlation between evolutionary distinctiveness of network elements and their contribution to ecosystem process. In contrast, if one or a few evolutionary innovations play key roles in ecosystem function, the relationship between evolutionary distinctiveness and functional contribution may be weak or absent. We illustrate how network elements associated with high functional contribution can be identified from regressions between phylogenetic diversity and productivity using a well-known empirical data set on plant productivity from the Cedar Creek Long-Term Ecological Research. We find no association between evolutionary distinctiveness and ecosystem functioning, but we are able to identify phylogenetic elements associated with species of known high functional contribution within the Fabaceae. Our perspective provides a useful guide in the search for ecological traits linking diversity and ecosystem function, and suggests a more nuanced consideration of phylogenetic diversity is required in the conservation and biodiversity-ecosystem-function literature.

RevDate: 2017-12-10
CmpDate: 2017-07-26

Piredda R, Tomasino MP, D'Erchia AM, et al (2017)

Diversity and temporal patterns of planktonic protist assemblages at a Mediterranean Long Term Ecological Research site.

FEMS microbiology ecology, 93(1):.

We tracked temporal changes in protist diversity at the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) station MareChiara in the Gulf of Naples (Mediterranean Sea) on eight dates in 2011 using a metabarcoding approach. Illumina analysis of the V4 and V9 fragments of the 18S rDNA produced 869 522 and 1 410 071 sequences resulting in 6517 and 6519 OTUs, respectively. Marked compositional variations were recorded across the year, with less than 2% of OTUs shared among all samples and similar patterns for the two marker tags. Alveolata, Stramenopiles and Rhizaria were the most represented groups. A comparison with light microscopy data indicated an over-representation of Dinophyta in the sequence dataset, whereas Bacillariophyta showed comparable taxonomic patterns between sequence and light microscopy data. Shannon diversity values were stable from February to September, increasing thereafter with a peak in December. Community variance was mainly explained by seasonality (as temperature), trophic status (as chlorophyll a), and influence of coastal waters (as salinity). Overall, the background knowledge of the system provided a sound context for the result interpretation, showing that LTER sites provide an ideal setting for high-throughput sequencing (HTS) metabarcoding characterisation of protist assemblages and their relationships with environmental variations.

RevDate: 2017-10-20
CmpDate: 2016-12-21

Rapinel S, Hubert-Moy L, Clément B, et al (2016)

Mapping wetland functions using Earth observation data and multi-criteria analysis.

Environmental monitoring and assessment, 188(11):641.

Wetland functional assessment is commonly conducted based on field observations, and thus, is generally limited to small areas. However, there is often a need for wetland managers to obtain information on wetland functional performance over larger areas. For this purpose, we are proposing a new field-based functional assessment procedure in which wetland functions are evaluated and classified into hydrogeomorphic units according to a multi-criteria analysis approach. Wetland-related geographic information system layers derived from Earth observation data (LiDAR, multispectral and radar data) are used in this study for a large-scale functional evaluation. These include maps of a hydrogeomorphic units, ditches, vegetation, annual flood duration, biomass, meadows management, and wetland boundaries. To demonstrate the feasibility of this approach, a 132 km2 international long-term ecological research site located in the west of France was assessed. Four wetland functions were evaluated: flood peak attenuation, low water attenuation, denitrification, and habitat. A spatial distribution map of the individual wetland functions was generated, and the intensity levels of the functions were highlighted. Antagonisms between functions within individual hydrogeomorphic units were also identified. Mapping of hydrological, biogeochemical, and ecological wetland functions over large areas can provide an efficient tool for policy makers and other stakeholders including water authorities, nature conservation agencies, and farmers. Specifically, this tool has the potential to provide a mapping of ecosystem services, conservation management priorities, and possible improvements in water resources management.

RevDate: 2018-08-08
CmpDate: 2017-09-28

Schlaich AE, Klaassen RH, Bouten W, et al (2016)

How individual Montagu's Harriers cope with Moreau's Paradox during the Sahelian winter.

The Journal of animal ecology, 85(6):1491-1501.

Hundreds of millions of Afro-Palaearctic migrants winter in the Sahel, a semi-arid belt south of the Sahara desert, where they experience deteriorating ecological conditions during their overwintering stay and have to prepare for spring migration when conditions are worst. This well-known phenomenon was first described by R.E. Moreau and is known ever since as Moreau's Paradox. However, empirical evidence of the deteriorating seasonal ecological conditions is limited and little is known on how birds respond. Montagu's Harriers Circus pygargus spend 6 months of the year in their wintering areas in the Sahel. Within the wintering season, birds move gradually to the south, visiting several distinct sites to which they are site-faithful in consecutive years. At the last wintering site, birds find themselves at the southern edge of the Sahelian zone and have no other options than facing deteriorating conditions. We tracked 36 Montagu's Harriers with GPS trackers to study their habitat use and behaviour during winter and collected data on the abundance of their main prey, grasshoppers, in Senegal. Since grasshopper abundance was positively related to vegetation greenness (measured as normalized difference vegetation index, NDVI), we used NDVI values as a proxy for prey abundance in areas where no field data were collected. Prey abundance (grasshopper counts and vegetation greenness) at wintering sites of Montagu's Harriers decreased during the wintering period. Montagu's Harriers responded to decreasing food availability by increasing their flight time during the second half of the winter. Individuals increased flight time more in areas with stronger declines in NDVI values, suggesting that lower food abundance required more intense foraging to achieve energy requirements. The apparent consequence was that Montagu's Harriers departed later in spring when their final wintering site had lower NDVI values and presumably lower food abundance and consequently arrived later at their breeding site. Our results confirmed the suggestions Moreau made 40 years ago: the late wintering period might be a bottleneck during the annual cycle with possible carry-over effects to the breeding season. Ongoing climate change with less rainfall in the Sahel region paired with increased human pressure on natural and agricultural habitats resulting in degradation and desertification is likely to make this period more demanding, which may negatively impact populations of migratory birds using the Sahel.

RevDate: 2017-12-14
CmpDate: 2017-12-14

Pourmokhtarian A, Driscoll CT, Campbell JL, et al (2016)

The effects of climate downscaling technique and observational data set on modeled ecological responses.

Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America, 26(5):1321-1337.

Assessments of future climate change impacts on ecosystems typically rely on multiple climate model projections, but often utilize only one downscaling approach trained on one set of observations. Here, we explore the extent to which modeled biogeochemical responses to changing climate are affected by the selection of the climate downscaling method and training observations used at the montane landscape of the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, New Hampshire, USA. We evaluated three downscaling methods: the delta method (or the change factor method), monthly quantile mapping (Bias Correction-Spatial Disaggregation, or BCSD), and daily quantile regression (Asynchronous Regional Regression Model, or ARRM). Additionally, we trained outputs from four atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) (CCSM3, HadCM3, PCM, and GFDL-CM2.1) driven by higher (A1fi) and lower (B1) future emissions scenarios on two sets of observations (1/8º resolution grid vs. individual weather station) to generate the high-resolution climate input for the forest biogeochemical model PnET-BGC (eight ensembles of six runs).The choice of downscaling approach and spatial resolution of the observations used to train the downscaling model impacted modeled soil moisture and streamflow, which in turn affected forest growth, net N mineralization, net soil nitrification, and stream chemistry. All three downscaling methods were highly sensitive to the observations used, resulting in projections that were significantly different between station-based and grid-based observations. The choice of downscaling method also slightly affected the results, however not as much as the choice of observations. Using spatially smoothed gridded observations and/or methods that do not resolve sub-monthly shifts in the distribution of temperature and/or precipitation can produce biased results in model applications run at greater temporal and/or spatial resolutions. These results underscore the importance of carefully considering field observations used for training, as well as the downscaling method used to generate climate change projections, for smaller-scale modeling studies. Different sources of variability including selection of AOGCM, emissions scenario, downscaling technique, and data used for training downscaling models, result in a wide range of projected forest ecosystem responses to future climate change.

RevDate: 2017-12-14
CmpDate: 2017-12-14

Lindenmayer DB, Candy SG, MacGregor CI, et al (2016)

Do temporal changes in vegetation structure additional to time since fire predict changes in bird occurrence?.

Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America, 26(7):2267-2279.

Fire is a major ecological process in ecosystems globally. Its impacts on fauna can be both direct (e.g., mortality) and indirect (e.g., altered habitat), resulting in population recovery being driven by several possible mechanisms. Separating direct from indirect impacts of fire on faunal population recovery can be valuable in guiding management of biodiversity in fire-prone environments. However, resolving the influence of direct and indirect processes remains a key challenge because many processes affecting fauna can change concomitantly with time since fire. We explore the mechanisms influencing bird response to fire by posing the question, can temporal changes in vegetation structure predict changes in bird occurrence on sites, and can these be separated from other temporal changes using the surrogate of time since fire? We conducted a 12-yr study of bird and vegetation responses to fire at 124 sites across six vegetation classes in Booderee National Park, Australia. Approximately half of these sites, established in 2002, were burned by a large (>3000 ha) wildfire in 2003. To disentangle collinear effects of temporal changes in vegetation and direct demographic effects on population recovery that are subsumed by time since fire, we incorporated both longitudinal and cross-sectional vegetation effects in addition to time since fire within logistic structural equation models. We identified temporal changes in vegetation structure and richness of plant and bird species that characterized burned and unburned sites in all vegetation classes. For nine bird species, a significant component of the year trend was driven by temporal trends in one of three vegetation variables (number of understory or midstory plant species, or midstory cover). By contrast, we could not separate temporal effects between time since fire and vegetation attributes for bird species richness, reporting rate, and the occurrence of 11 other bird species. Our findings help identify species for which indirect effects of vegetation dominate recovery and thus may benefit from vegetation management where conservation actions are required and, conversely, those species for which direct effects of time since fire drive recovery, where simply leaving a system to recover following the last disturbance will be sufficient.

RevDate: 2017-12-14
CmpDate: 2017-12-14

Manning DW, Rosemond AD, Gulis V, et al (2016)

Convergence of detrital stoichiometry predicts thresholds of nutrient-stimulated breakdown in streams.

Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America, 26(6):1745-1757.

Nutrient enrichment of detritus-based streams increases detrital resource quality for consumers and stimulates breakdown rates of particulate organic carbon (C). The relative importance of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (N) vs. phosphorus (P) for detrital quality and their effects on microbial- vs. detritivore-mediated detrital breakdown are poorly understood. We tested effects of experimental N and P additions on detrital stoichiometry (C:N, C:P) and total and microbial breakdown (i.e., with and without detritivorous shredders, respectively) of five detritus types (four leaf litter species and wood) with different initial C : nutrient content. We enriched five headwater streams continuously for two years at different relative availabilities of N and P and compared breakdown rates and detrital stoichiometry to pretreatment conditions. Total breakdown rates increased with nutrient enrichment and were predicted by altered detrital stoichiometry. Streamwater N and P, fungal biomass, and their interactions affected stoichiometry of detritus. Streamwater N and P decreased detrital C:N, whereas streamwater P had stronger negative effects on detrital C:P. Nutrient addition and fungal biomass reduced C:N by 70% and C:P by 83% on average after conditioning, compared to only 26% for C:N and 10% for C:P under pretreatment conditions. Detritus with lowest initial nutrient content changed the most and had greatest increases in total breakdown rates. Detrital stoichiometry was reduced and differences among detritus types were homogenized by nutrient enrichment. With enrichment, detrital nutrient content approached detritivore nutritional requirements and stimulated greater detritivore vs. microbial litter breakdown. We used breakpoint regression to estimate values of detrital stoichiometry that can potentially be used to indicate elevated breakdown rates. Breakpoint ratios for total breakdown were 41 (C:N) and 1518 (C:P), coinciding with total breakdown rates that were ~1.9 times higher when C:N or C:P fell below these breakpoints. Microbial and shredder-mediated breakdown rates both increased when C:N and C:P were reduced, suggesting that detrital stoichiometry is useful for predicting litter breakdown dominated by either microbial or shredder activity. Our results show strong effects of nutrient enrichment on detrital stoichiometry and offer a robust link between a potential holistic nutrient loading metric (decreased and homogenized detrital stoichiometry) and increased C loss from stream ecosystems.

RevDate: 2017-03-02
CmpDate: 2017-03-02

Greenville AC, NJ Emery (2016)

Gathering lots of data on a small budget.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 353(6306):1360-1361.

RevDate: 2017-08-17
CmpDate: 2017-05-15

Poeta G, Battisti C, Bazzichetto M, et al (2016)

The cotton buds beach: Marine litter assessment along the Tyrrhenian coast of central Italy following the marine strategy framework directive criteria.

Marine pollution bulletin, 113(1-2):266-270.

We assessed the annual accumulation rates of beach litter on the Tyrrhenian coast of central Italy, providing the characterization of litter following European standardized guidelines. Three different sites of a beach were sampled seasonally from spring 2014 to winter 2015. A total of 31,739 items were removed and classified into 103 categories. Plastic represented the majority (94.4%) of the collected items. We detected temporal and spatial differences in the abundance and composition of litter between seasons and between sites. Furthermore, we found that plastic cotton bud sticks composed >30% of the total amount of litter and, together with plastic and polystyrene pieces, made up >70% of the total items. Finally, our results led us to propose that the most effective strategy to reduce litter pollution is to devise specific management procedures focusing on the most abundant items.

RevDate: 2018-01-29
CmpDate: 2017-12-08

Brookfield AE, Macpherson GL, MD Covington (2017)

Effects of Changing Meteoric Precipitation Patterns on Groundwater Temperature in Karst Environments.

Ground water, 55(2):227-236.

Climate predictions indicate that precipitation patterns will change and average air temperatures will increase across much of the planet. These changes will alter surface water and groundwater temperatures which can significantly affect the local and regional environment. Here, we examine the role of precipitation timing in changes to groundwater temperature in carbonate-karst aquifers using measured groundwater level and temperature data from the Konza Prairie Long-Term Ecological Research Site, Kansas. We demonstrate that shifts to increased cool-season precipitation may mitigate the increases in groundwater temperature produced by increases in average annual air temperature. In karst, the solution-enlarged conduits allow faster and focused recharge, and the recharge-event temperature can strongly influence the groundwater temperature in the aquifer. Our field data and analysis show that predictions of future groundwater conditions in karst aquifers need to consider changes in precipitation patterns, in addition to changes to average annual air temperature.


RJR Experience and Expertise


Robbins holds BS, MS, and PhD degrees in the life sciences. He served as a tenured faculty member in the Zoology and Biological Science departments at Michigan State University. He is currently exploring the intersection between genomics, microbial ecology, and biodiversity — an area that promises to transform our understanding of the biosphere.


Robbins has extensive experience in college-level education: At MSU he taught introductory biology, genetics, and population genetics. At JHU, he was an instructor for a special course on biological database design. At FHCRC, he team-taught a graduate-level course on the history of genetics. At Bellevue College he taught medical informatics.


Robbins has been involved in science administration at both the federal and the institutional levels. At NSF he was a program officer for database activities in the life sciences, at DOE he was a program officer for information infrastructure in the human genome project. At the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, he served as a vice president for fifteen years.


Robbins has been involved with information technology since writing his first Fortran program as a college student. At NSF he was the first program officer for database activities in the life sciences. At JHU he held an appointment in the CS department and served as director of the informatics core for the Genome Data Base. At the FHCRC he was VP for Information Technology.


While still at Michigan State, Robbins started his first publishing venture, founding a small company that addressed the short-run publishing needs of instructors in very large undergraduate classes. For more than 20 years, Robbins has been operating The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project, a web site dedicated to the digital publishing of critical works in science, especially classical genetics.


Robbins is well-known for his speaking abilities and is often called upon to provide keynote or plenary addresses at international meetings. For example, in July, 2012, he gave a well-received keynote address at the Global Biodiversity Informatics Congress, sponsored by GBIF and held in Copenhagen. The slides from that talk can be seen HERE.


Robbins is a skilled meeting facilitator. He prefers a participatory approach, with part of the meeting involving dynamic breakout groups, created by the participants in real time: (1) individuals propose breakout groups; (2) everyone signs up for one (or more) groups; (3) the groups with the most interested parties then meet, with reports from each group presented and discussed in a subsequent plenary session.


Robbins has been engaged with photography and design since the 1960s, when he worked for a professional photography laboratory. He now prefers digital photography and tools for their precision and reproducibility. He designed his first web site more than 20 years ago and he personally designed and implemented this web site. He engages in graphic design as a hobby.

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This is a must read book for anyone with an interest in invasion biology. The full title of the book lays out the author's premise — The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature's Salvation. Not only is species movement not bad for ecosystems, it is the way that ecosystems respond to perturbation — it is the way ecosystems heal. Even if you are one of those who is absolutely convinced that invasive species are actually "a blight, pollution, an epidemic, or a cancer on nature", you should read this book to clarify your own thinking. True scientific understanding never comes from just interacting with those with whom you already agree. R. Robbins

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Collection of publications by R J Robbins

Reprints and preprints of publications, slide presentations, instructional materials, and data compilations written or prepared by Robert Robbins. Most papers deal with computational biology, genome informatics, using information technology to support biomedical research, and related matters.

Research Gate page for R J Robbins

ResearchGate is a social networking site for scientists and researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators. According to a study by Nature and an article in Times Higher Education , it is the largest academic social network in terms of active users.

Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

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Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

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RJR Picks from Around the Web (updated 11 MAY 2018 )