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Reconstruction of Historic Forest Cover Changes Indicates Minor Effects on Carbon Stocks in Swiss Forest Soils
Abstract Forest cover in Switzerland and other European countries has gradually increased in the past century. Our knowledge of the impacts of forest expansion and development on soil organic carbon (SOC) storage is, however, limited due to uncertainties in land-use history and lack of historical soil samples. We investigated the effect of forest age on current SOC storage in Switzerland. For 857 sites, we analysed SOC stocks and determined the minimal forest age for all presently forested sites using digitized historical maps, classifying all sites into three categories...
Fine Root Growth and Vertical Distribution in Response to Elevated CO 2 , Warming and Drought in a Mixed Heathland–Grassland
Abstract Belowground plant responses have received much less attention in climate change experiments than aboveground plant responses, thus hampering a holistic understanding of climate change effects on plants and ecosystems. In addition, responses of plant roots to climate change have mostly been studied in single-factor experiments. In a Danish heathland ecosystem, we investigated both individual and combined effects of elevated CO2, warming and drought on fine root length, net production and standing biomass by the use of minirhizotrons, ingrowth cores and soil coring...
Patterns of DON and DOC Leaching Losses Across a Natural N Availability Gradient in Temperate Hardwood Forests
Abstract Dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) is a potentially significant vector of N loss from forest ecosystems that has been characterized as an “N leak.” Although the term “leak” suggests a lack of regulation, it is clear DON losses are a function of biological and physicochemical processes that influence its production and retention across the landscape. In this study, we investigated how soil processes that influence DON cycling impact ecosystem patterns of DON loss in five northern hardwood forests that spanned a gradient of N availability, tree species...
Evidence for Changes in Estuarine Zooplankton Fostered by Increased Climate Variance
Abstract Estuaries are among the most valuable aquatic systems in terms of their services to human welfare. They offer an ideal framework to assess multiscale processes linking climate and food web dynamics through the hydrological cycle. Resolving food web responses to climate change is fundamental to resilience management of these threatened ecosystems under global change scenarios. Here, we examined the temporal variability of the plankton food web in the Mondego Estuary, central Iberian Peninsula, over the period 2003 to 2012. The results pointed out a cascading...
Perpetual Phosphorus Cycling: Eutrophication Amplifies Biological Control on Internal Phosphorus Loading in Agricultural Reservoirs
Abstract Nearly half of US lakes are impaired, primarily resulting from excessive nutrients and resultant eutrophication. The stability and recycling of sediment P results in differing degrees of internal P loading, which can alter lake water quality. In this study, we asked: (1) What are the underlying mechanisms controlling internal loading (net release) and retention of P? and (2) How does trophic state, specifically a hypereutrophic condition, affect internal P loading in agricultural reservoirs? We show that shifts in internal P loading are related to trophic-level...
The Influence of Legacy P on Lake Water Quality in a Midwestern Agricultural Watershed
Abstract Decades of fertilizer and manure applications have led to a buildup of phosphorus (P) in agricultural soils and sediments, commonly referred to as legacy P. Legacy P can provide a long-term source of P to surface waters where it causes eutrophication. Using a suite of numerical models, we investigated the influence of legacy P on water quality in the Yahara Watershed of southern Wisconsin, USA. The suite included Agro-IBIS, a terrestrial ecosystem model; THMB, a hydrologic and nutrient routing model; and the Yahara Water Quality Model which estimates water...
Influence of Land-Use Intensification on Vegetation C-Stocks in an Alpine Valley from 1865 to 2003
Abstract The role of ecosystems as carbon (C) sinks or sources is intrinsically related to land-use intensity, which determines the land required for biomass production. Here, we systematically investigate the role of different land-use types including their land-use intensities on vegetation C-stocks (SCact) in the Stubai valley, located in the Austrian central Alps. After a period of high land-use impacts until 1954, indicated by massive C-depletion, land-use shifted to completely new courses. Polarization into high-intensity low-land areas and extensification at higher...
Ecosystem Structure and Dynamics in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre: New Views of an Old Ocean
Abstract The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG) is one of the largest biomes on Earth. It has a semi-enclosed surface area of about 2 × 107 km2 and mean depth of nearly 5 km and includes a broad range of habitats from warm, light-saturated, nutrient-starved surface waters to the cold, nutrient-rich abyss. Microorganisms are found throughout the water column and are vertically stratified by their genetically determined metabolic capabilities that establish physiological tolerances to temperature, light, pressure, as well as organic and inorganic growth substrates...
Importance of Seasonality for the Response of a Mesic Temperate Grassland to Increased Precipitation Variability and Warming
Abstract Timing of precipitation events within the growing season and the non-uniformity of warming might be decisive for alterations in productivity and community composition, with consequences for ecosystem functioning. The responses of aboveground production, community composition, functional group and species evenness to altered intra-annual precipitation variability and their interactions with winter or summer warming were examined in European, mesic temperate grassland. Increased precipitation variability with an induced spring drought resulted in a 17% reduction in...
Extreme Weather Event Triggers Cascade Towards Extreme Turbidity in a Clear-water Lake
Abstract Climate forecasts project a global increase in extreme weather events, but information on the consequences for ecosystems is scarce. Of particular significance for lakes are severe storms that can influence biogeochemical processes and biological communities by disrupting the vertical thermal structure during periods of stratification. An exceptional storm passing over northern Germany in July 2011 provided an opportunity to assess the consequences and underlying mechanisms of such extreme events on the interplay between the physics and ecological characteristics...
Integrating the Concept of Resilience into an Ecosystem Approach to Bivalve Aquaculture Management
Abstract Bivalve aquaculture has become increasingly important for marine protein production and is an alternative to exploiting natural resources. Its further and sustainable development should follow an ecosystem approach, to maintain both biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. The identification of critical thresholds to development remains difficult. The present work aims at combining the calculation of the system’s ecological carrying capacity (ECC) with the ecosystem view of resilience for a bay system exposed to bivalve (scallop) aquaculture. Using a trophic...
Land Surface Phenology in the Tropics: The Role of Climate and Topography in a Snow-Free Mountain
Abstract Leaf phenology represents a major temporal component of ecosystem functioning, and understanding the drivers of seasonal variation in phenology is essential to understand plant responses to climate change. We assessed the patterns and drivers of land surface phenology, a proxy for leafing phenology, for the meridional Espinhaço Range, a South American tropical mountain comprising a mosaic of savannas, dry woodlands, montane vegetation and moist forests. We used a 14-year time series of MODIS/NDVI satellite images, acquired between 2001 and 2015, and extracted...
Changes in the Spatial Configuration and Strength of Trophic Control Across a Productivity Gradient During a Massive Rodent Outbreak
Abstract Understanding the determinants of spatial and temporal differences in the relative strength of consumer–resource interactions is an important endeavour in ecology. Here, we explore the necessary conditions for temporal shifts in the relative strength of rodent–plant interactions in an area characterised by profound spatial differences in trophic control, with predator–prey interactions prevailing in productive habitats and rodent–plant interactions dominating unproductive habitats of the forest–tundra ecotone. We report data obtained during the...
Neighborhood-Scale Analyses of Non-additive Species Effects on Cation Concentrations in Forest Soils
Abstract Trees affect soil chemistry and nutrient availability via a broad range of processes. Effects can vary dramatically among species, whose distinctive spatial “footprints” can vary for different nutrients. Potentially overlapping effects of neighboring trees in mixed-species stands make footprint shape and interspecific interactions important: If interactions are non-additive, then not only abundance but also spatial configuration influence tree species’ effects on ecosystem properties. We used spatially explicit neighborhood-scale data on tree distributions...
To Model or not to Model, That is no Longer the Question for Ecologists
Abstract Here, I argue that we should abandon the division between “field ecologists” and “modelers,” and embrace modeling and empirical research as two powerful and often complementary approaches in the toolbox of 21st century ecologists, to be deployed alone or in combination depending on the task at hand. As empirical research has the longer tradition in ecology, and modeling is the more recent addition to the methodological arsenal, I provide both practical and theoretical reasons for integrating modeling more deeply into ecosystem research. Empirical...
Advancing Ecosystem Science by Promoting Greater Use of Theory and Multiple Research Approaches in Graduate Education
Abstract Since the inaugural edition of Ecosystems was published in 1998, ecosystem science has undergone substantial changes including the development of new research methods and an increasing emphasis on collaborations across traditional academic boundaries. In response to this transformation, we reflect on the current state of theory in ecosystem science, and make recommendations for training the next generation of Ph.D.-level ecosystem scientists. Specifically, we call for increased integration of theory into ecosystem science and outline the utility of iterating...
The Power and the Pitfalls of Large-scale, Unreplicated Natural Experiments
Abstract Large-scale, unreplicated natural experiments (LUNEs) have a unique power to test hypotheses at ecologically realistic scales and have delivered insights of great power into cosmology, evolution and geology. Yet, LUNEs are relatively rare in the field of ecology and continue to meet resistance due to their lack of replication. However, in the vast majority of cases, large-scale experiments cannot be replicated for practical and ethical reasons. Here, we make the case that LUNEs have had a disproportionately positive effect on conservation policy and are a...
Empiricism and Modeling for Marine Fisheries: Advancing an Interdisciplinary Science
Abstract Marine fisheries science is a broad field that is fundamentally concerned with sustainability across ecological, economic, and social dimensions. Ensuring the delivery of food, security, equity, and well-being while sustaining ecosystems in the face of rapid change is, by far, the main challenge facing marine fisheries. A tighter integration of modeling and empiricism is needed to confront this challenge. In particular, improved incorporation of empirically grounded and realistic representation of human behaviors into models will greatly enhance our ability to...
Next-Generation Individual-Based Models Integrate Biodiversity and Ecosystems: Yes We Can, and Yes We Must
Abstract Ecosystem and community ecology have evolved along different pathways, with little overlap. However, to meet societal demands for predicting changes in ecosystem services, the functional and structural view dominating these two branches of ecology, respectively, must be integrated. Biodiversity–ecosystem function research has addressed this integration for two decades, but full integration that makes predictions relevant to practical problems is still lacking. We argue that full integration requires going, in both branches, deeper by taking into account...
Ecosystem Modeling for the 21st Century

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