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Blue Carbon Storage in Tropical Seagrass Meadows Relates to Carbonate Stock Dynamics, Plant–Sediment Processes, and Landscape Context: Insights from the Western Indian Ocean
10. Juli 2017
Abstract Globally, seagrass ecosystems are considered major blue carbon sinks and thus indirect contributors to climate change mitigation. Quantitative estimates and multi-scale appraisals of sources that underlie long-term storage of sedimentary carbon are vital for understanding coastal carbon dynamics. Across a tropical–subtropical coastal continuum in the Western Indian Ocean, we estimated organic (Corg) and inorganic (Ccarb) carbon stocks in seagrass sediment. Quantified levels and variability of the two carbon stocks were evaluated with regard to the relative...
Spatial Variability of Plant Litter Decomposition in Stream Networks: from Litter Bags to Watersheds
07. Juli 2017
Abstract The decomposition of plant litter plays a fundamental role in the cycling of carbon and nutrients and is driven by complex interactions of biological and physical controls, yet little is known about its variability and controls across spatial scales. Here we address the indirect effects of riparian canopy cover on litter decomposition and decomposers and their variability within a set of hierarchical scales (watershed, stream segments and reaches) controlling for confounding factors that could co-vary with canopy cover (for example, temperature and nutrients), in...
Productivity and Temperature as Drivers of Seasonal and Spatial Variations of Dissolved Methane in the Southern Bight of the North Sea
06. Juli 2017
Abstract Dissolved CH4 concentrations in the Belgian coastal zone (North Sea) ranged between 670 nmol l−1 nearshore and 4 nmol l−1 offshore. Spatial variations of CH4 were related to sediment organic matter (OM) content and gassy sediments. In nearshore stations with fine sand or muddy sediments, the CH4 seasonal cycle followed water temperature, suggesting methanogenesis control by temperature in these OM-rich sediments. In offshore stations with permeable sediments, the CH4 seasonal cycle showed a yearly peak following the chlorophyll-a spring peak, suggesting...
Carbon Accumulation in Neotropical Dry Secondary Forests: The Roles of Forest Age and Tree Dominance and Diversity
06. Juli 2017
Abstract Tropical secondary forests are important sinks for atmospheric carbon, yet C uptake and accumulation rates are highly uncertain, and the mechanisms poorly understood. We evaluated the recovery of C stocks in four pools (aboveground biomass, litter, roots and topsoil) during dry forest regrowth by combining a space for time replacement (that is, a chronosequence) with a repeated measurements approach (that is, a resampling). We fit nonlinear models to chronosequence data to test whether forest age could explain differences in C stocks across sites, and to changes...
Erratum to: Modeled Effects of Climate Change and Plant Invasion on Watershed Function Across a Steep Tropical Rainfall Gradient
28. Juni 2017
Seasonal and Long-Term Changes to Active-Layer Temperatures after Tall Shrubland Expansion and Succession in Arctic Tundra
27. Juni 2017
Abstract Vegetation, active-layer soils, and snow cover regulate energy exchange between the atmosphere and permafrost. Therefore, interactions between changes to tundra vegetation and soil thermal regime will fundamentally affect permafrost in a warmer world. We recorded soil temperatures for approximately 1 year in a Siberian Low Arctic landscape with a known history of alder (Alnus) shrub expansion on disturbed microsites in patterned ground. We recorded near-surface soil temperatures and measured physical properties of soils and vegetation on sorted-circle microsites...
Consumer Aggregations Drive Nutrient Dynamics and Ecosystem Metabolism in Nutrient-Limited Systems
23. Juni 2017
Abstract Differences in animal distributions and metabolic demands can influence energy and nutrient flow in an ecosystem. Through taxa-specific nutrient consumption, storage, and remineralization, animals may influence energy and nutrient pathways in an ecosystem. Here we show these taxa-specific traits can drive biogeochemical cycles of nutrients and alter ecosystem primary production and metabolism, using riverine systems that support heterogeneous freshwater mussel aggregations. Freshwater unionid mussels occur as distinct, spatially heterogeneous, dense aggregations...
Whole-Lake Sugar Addition Demonstrates Trophic Transfer of Dissolved Organic Carbon to Top Consumers
21. Juni 2017
Abstract Terrestrial dissolved organic carbon (DOC) provides an external carbon source to lake ecosystems. However, there is ongoing debate about whether external DOC that enters a lake can pass up the food web to support top consumers. We show, from experimental manipulation of a whole lake, that externally loaded DOC can contribute appreciably to fish biomass. Monthly additions of cane sugar with a distinct carbon stable isotope value during 2 years rapidly enriched the 13C content of zooplankton and macroinvertebrates, with a more gradual 13C enrichment of fish. After...
Fine Root Morphology, Biochemistry and Litter Quality Indices of Fast- and Slow-growing Woody Species in Ethiopian Highland Forest
21. Juni 2017
Abstract Fine root turnover of trees is a major C input to soil. However, the quality of litter input is influenced by root morphological traits and tissue chemical composition. In this study, fine roots of ten tropical woody species were collected from an Afromontane forest in the northern highlands of Ethiopia. The fine roots were analysed for root morphological traits and tissue chemistry measured as proxy carbon fractionations. Based on stem increment, the 10 species were divided into faster- and slower-growing species. Faster-growing species exhibited higher specific...
Aridity Decouples C:N:P Stoichiometry Across Multiple Trophic Levels in Terrestrial Ecosystems
12. Juni 2017
Abstract Increases in aridity forecasted by the end of this century will decouple the cycles of soil carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in drylands—the largest terrestrial biome on Earth. Little is known, however, about how changes in aridity simultaneously affect the C:N:P stoichiometry of organisms across multiple trophic levels. It is imperative that we understand how aridity affects ecological stoichiometry so that we can develop strategies to mitigate any effects of changing climates. We characterized the C, N, P concentration and stoichiometry of soils...
The Impacts of Above- and Belowground Plant Input on Soil Microbiota: Invasive Spartina alterniflora Versus Native Phragmites australis
12. Juni 2017
Abstract Invasive plants affect soil food webs through various resource inputs including shoot litter, root litter and living root input. The net impact of invasive plants on soil biota has been recognized; however, the relative contributions of different resource input pathways have not been quantified. Through a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial field experiment, a pair of invasive and native plant species (Spartina alterniflora vs. Phragmites australis) was compared to determine the relative impacts of their living roots or shoots and root litter on soil microbial and nematode...
From Bacteria to Fish: Ecological Consequences of Seasonal Hypoxia in a Great Lakes Estuary
08. Juni 2017
Abstract The occurrence of bottom-water hypoxia is increasing in bodies of water around the world. Hypoxia is of concern due to the way it negatively impacts lakes and estuaries at the whole ecosystem level. During 2015, we examined the influence of hypoxia on the Muskegon Lake ecosystem by collecting surface- and bottom-water nutrient samples, bacterial abundance counts, benthic fish community information, and performing profiles of chlorophyll and phycocyanin as proxies for phytoplankton and cyanobacterial growth, respectively. Several significant changes occurred in...
Cotton-Grass and Blueberry have Opposite Effect on Peat Characteristics and Nutrient Transformation in Peatland
06. Juni 2017
Abstract Peatlands are large repositories of carbon (C). Sphagnum mosses play a key role in C sequestration, whereas the presence of vascular plants is generally thought to stimulate peat decomposition. Recent studies stress the importance of plant species for peat quality and soil microbial activity. Thus, learning about specific plant–microbe–soil relations and their potential feedbacks for C and nutrient cycling are important for a correct understanding of C sequestration in peatlands and its potential shift associated with vegetation change. We studied how the...
Slow Recovery from Local Disturbances as an Indicator for Loss of Ecosystem Resilience
02. Juni 2017
Abstract A range of indicators have been proposed for identifying the elevated risk of critical transitions in ecosystems. Most indicators are based on the idea that critical slowing down can be inferred from changes in statistical properties of natural fluctuations and spatial patterns. However, identifying these signals in nature has remained challenging. An alternative approach is to infer changes in resilience from differences in standardized experimental perturbations. However, system-wide experimental perturbations are rarely feasible. Here we evaluate the potential...
Green Tongues into the Arid Zone: River Floodplains Extend the Distribution of Terrestrial Bird Species
01. Juni 2017
Abstract Floodplain and riparian ecosystems have cooler, wetter microclimatic conditions, higher water availability and greater vegetation biomass than adjacent terrestrial zones. Given these conditions, we investigated whether floodplain ecosystems allow terrestrial bird species to extend into more arid regions than they otherwise would be expected to occupy. We evaluated associations between aridity and the occurrence of 130 species using bird survey data from 2998 sites along the two major river corridors in the Murray–Darling Basin, Australia. We compared the...
How Regime Shifts in Connected Aquatic Ecosystems Are Affected by the Typical Downstream Increase of Water Flow
01. Juni 2017
Abstract All over the world freshwater ecosystems like ponds, ditches and lakes suffer from nutrient-driven regime shifts from submerged plants to dominance by algae or free-floating plants. Although freshwaters are often connected and part of a network, most of our current knowledge on regime shifts comes from studies of isolated ecosystems. The few studies that have assessed the spatial manifestation of regime shifts overlooked the hydrological fact that the water flow through connected waters typically increases in the downstream direction. Here, we use a complex...
Modeling Allochthonous Dissolved Organic Carbon Mineralization Under Variable Hydrologic Regimes in Boreal Lakes
01. Juni 2017
Abstract Here, we explore the interaction between hydrology and the reactivity of allochthonous dissolved organic carbon (DOCalloch) in determining the potential of DOCalloch to generate CO2 through biological and photo-chemical mineralization in boreal lakes. We developed a mechanistic model that integrates the reactivity continuum (RC) concept to reconstruct in-lake mineralization of DOCalloch under variable hydrologic conditions using empirical measurements of DOCalloch concentrations and reactivity as model inputs. The model predicts lake DOCalloch concentration...
Conifer Presence May Negatively Affect Sugar Maple’s Ability to Migrate into the Boreal Forest Through Reduced Foliar Nutritional Status
01. Juni 2017
Abstract The discipline of ecology suffers from a lack of knowledge of non-climatic factors (for example, plant–soil, plant–plant and plant–insect interactions) to predict tree species range shifts under climate change. The next generation of simulation models of forest response to climate change must build upon local observations of species interactions and growth along climatic gradients. We examined whether sugar maple (Acer saccharum) seedlings were disadvantaged with respect to soil nutrient uptake under coniferous canopies, as this species would need to...
Sustained Biogeochemical Impacts of Wildfire in a Mountain Lake Catchment
01. Juni 2017
ABSTRACT Wild and prescribed fires can cause severe deterioration in water quality, including increases in sediment, nutrients and dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Due to the unpredictability of wildfires, few studies have been able to employ before-after, control-intervention experimental designs, or to evaluate fire-induced water-quality changes in the context of long-term datasets. Here, we present data from a lake draining a moorland catchment in the United Kingdom, part of a 22-site, 25 year monitoring network, which experienced a major wildfire in 2011. The main...
New Directions for Understanding the Spatial Resilience of Social–Ecological Systems
01. Juni 2017
Abstract The concept of spatial resilience has brought a new focus on the influence of multi-scale processes on the dynamics of ecosystems. Initial ideas about spatial resilience focused on coral reefs and emphasized escalating anthropogenic disturbances across the broader seascape. This perspective resonated with a new awareness of global drivers of change, such as growth in international trade and shifts in climate, and the need to respond by scaling up governance and management. We review recent trends and emerging ideas in spatial resilience, using coral...

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