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Ecosystems 

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Analyzing the Effects of Growing Season Length on the Net Ecosystem Production of an Alpine Grassland Using Model–Data Fusion
14. November 2017
Abstract Alpine ecosystems are, similar to arctic ecosystems, characterized by a very long snow season. Previous studies investigating arctic or alpine ecosystems have shown that winter CO2 effluxes can dominate the annual balance and that the timing and duration of the snow cover plays a crucial role for plant growth and phenology and might also influence the growing season ecosystem CO2 strength and dynamics. The objective of this study was to analyze seasonal and annual CO2 balances of a grassland site at an elevation of 2440 m a.s.l in the Swiss central Alps. We...
Crab Burrowing Limits Surface Litter Accumulation in a Temperate Salt Marsh: Implications for Ecosystem Functioning and Connectivity
13. November 2017
Abstract Burial of aboveground plant litter by animals reduces the amount available for surface transport and places it into a different environment, affecting decomposition rates and fluxes of organic matter to adjacent ecosystems. Here we show that in a Southwestern Atlantic salt marsh the burrowing crab Neohelice granulata buries aboveground plant litter at rates (0.5–8 g m−2 day−1) comparable to those of litter production (3 g m−2 day−1). Buried litter has a low probability (0.6%) of returning to the marsh surface. The formation of burrow excavation...
Cervid Exclusion Alters Boreal Forest Properties with Little Cascading Impacts on Soils
13. November 2017
Abstract Large herbivores are capable of modifying entire ecosystems with a combination of direct (for example browsing/grazing, trampling, defecation) and indirect (for example affecting plant species composition that then alters soil properties) effects. With many ungulate populations increasing across the northern hemisphere it is important to develop a general theory for how these animals can be expected to impact their habitats. Here we present the results of an 8-year experimental exclusion of moose (Alces alces) from 15 recent boreal forest clear-cut sites in...
Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Freshwater Reservoirs: What Does the Atmosphere See?
08. November 2017
Abstract Freshwater reservoirs are a known source of greenhouse gas (GHG) to the atmosphere, but their quantitative significance is still only loosely constrained. Although part of this uncertainty can be attributed to the difficulties in measuring highly variable fluxes, it is also the result of a lack of a clear accounting methodology, particularly about what constitutes new emissions and potential new sinks. In this paper, we review the main processes involved in the generation of GHG in reservoir systems and propose a simple approach to quantify the reservoir GHG...
Controls on Litter Decomposition of Emergent Macrophyte in Dongting Lake Wetlands
01. November 2017
Abstract Both litter composition and site environment are important factors influencing litter decomposition, but their relative roles in driving spatial variation in litter decomposition among wetlands remain unclear. The responses of mass loss and nutrient dynamics to site environment and litter source were investigated in Carex brevicuspis leaves from the Dongting Lake wetlands, China, using reciprocal transplants of litterbags. Litters originating from lower elevation (24–25 m; flooded for 180–200 days every year) and higher elevation (27–28 m...
Macrofaunal Functional Diversity Provides Resilience to Nutrient Enrichment in Coastal Sediments
01. November 2017
Abstract The degradation of ecosystems is often associated with losses of large organisms and the concomitant losses of the ecological functions they mediate. Conversely, the resilience of ecosystems to stress is strongly influenced by faunal communities and their impacts on processes. Denitrification in coastal sediments is a process that may provide ecosystem resilience to eutrophication by removing excess bioavailable nitrogen. Here, we conducted a large-scale field experiment to test the effect of macrofaunal community composition on denitrification in response to...
Integrating the Concept of Resilience into an Ecosystem Approach to Bivalve Aquaculture Management
01. November 2017
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...
Neighborhood-Scale Analyses of Non-additive Species Effects on Cation Concentrations in Forest Soils
01. November 2017
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...
Inundation, Vegetation, and Sediment Effects on Litter Decomposition in Pacific Coast Tidal Marshes
01. November 2017
Abstract The cycling and sequestration of carbon are important ecosystem functions of estuarine wetlands that may be affected by climate change. We conducted experiments across a latitudinal and climate gradient of tidal marshes in the northeast Pacific to evaluate the effects of climate- and vegetation-related factors on litter decomposition. We manipulated tidal exposure and litter type in experimental mesocosms at two sites and used variation across marsh landscapes at seven sites to test for relationships between decomposition and marsh elevation, soil temperature...
Long-lasting Imprint of Former Glassworks on Vegetation Pattern in an Extremely Species-rich Grassland: A Battle of Species Pools on Mesic Soils
01. November 2017
Abstract Increasing evidence suggests that past human activities have irreversibly changed soil properties and biodiversity patterns. In the White Carpathian Mts (Central-Eastern Europe), a mosaic of hyper-species-rich and species-rich patches have developed in a regularly mown dry grassland in the area of a glassworks abandoned in the eighteenth century. We tested whether and how anthropogenically changed soils affected the distribution of extraordinary species richness. Using magnetometry we detected former furnaces, workspace, waste deposit and unaffected surrounding...
The Sensitivity of Evapotranspiration to Inter-Specific Plant Neighbor Interactions: Implications for Models
01. November 2017
Abstract Evapotranspiration (ET) is an important water loss flux in ecosystem water cycles, and quantifying the spatial and temporal variation of ET can improve ecohydrological models in arid ecosystems. Plant neighbor interactions may be a source of spatial and temporal variation in ET due to their effects on the above- and belowground microclimate and increased water demand for transpiration. Over longer timescales (annual to multiple years), adjustments in plant physiological traits may occur in response to neighbor environments, potentially affecting the...
Interactive Effects Between Reindeer and Habitat Fertility Drive Soil Nutrient Availabilities in Arctic Tundra
01. November 2017
Abstract Herbivores impact nutrient availability and cycling, and the net effect of herbivory on soil nutrients is generally assumed to be positive in nutrient-rich environments and negative in nutrient-poor ones. This is, however, far from a uniform pattern, and there is a recognized need to investigate any interactive effects of herbivory and habitat fertility (i.e., plant C/N ratios) on soil nutrient availabilities. We determined long-term effects of reindeer on soil extractable nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) and their net mineralization rates along a fertility...
Improved Coral Population Estimation Reveals Trends at Multiple Scales on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
01. November 2017
Abstract The global erosion of biodiversity presents unique challenges for identifying major changes in population dynamics, establishing their causes, and managing and conserving affected ecosystems at broad spatial scales. Adaptive learning approaches connecting different spatial scales through the transfer of hierarchical information are powerful tools to address such challenges. Here, we use a Semi-Parametric Bayesian Hierarchical (SPa-BaH) model to estimate coral cover trajectories using 16 years of a broad-scale survey on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR...
Patterns of DON and DOC Leaching Losses Across a Natural N Availability Gradient in Temperate Hardwood Forests
01. November 2017
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...
The Enemy of My Enemy Hypothesis: Why Coexisting with Grasses May Be an Adaptive Strategy for Savanna Trees
01. November 2017
Abstract Savannas are characterized by the coexistence of trees and flammable grasses. Yet, tree–grass coexistence has been labeled as paradoxical—how do these two functional groups coexist over such an extensive area, despite being generally predisposed to excluding each other? For instance, many trees develop dense canopies that limit grass growth, and many grasses facilitate frequent/intense fires, increasing tree mortality. This study revisits tree–grass coexistence with a model of hierarchical competition between pyrogenic grasses, “forest trees” adapted...
Current Practices in Reporting Uncertainty in Ecosystem Ecology
25. Oktober 2017
Abstract Ecosystem budgets of water and elements can be difficult to estimate and are often unreplicated, making it challenging to provide confidence in estimates of ecosystem pools and fluxes. We conducted a survey to learn about current practices in reporting uncertainties in precipitation, streamflow, soils, and vegetation. Uncertainty derives from natural variation, which is commonly characterized by replicate samples, and from imperfect knowledge, which includes measurement error and model error (model fit and model selection). We asked questions about whether...
Historical Cover Trends in a Sagebrush Steppe Ecosystem from 1985 to 2013: Links with Climate, Disturbance, and Management
24. Oktober 2017
Abstract Understanding the causes and consequences of component change in sagebrush steppe is crucial for evaluating ecosystem sustainability. The sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) steppe ecosystem of the northwest USA has been impacted by the invasion of exotic grasses, increasing fire return intervals, changing land management practices, and fragmentation, often lowering the overall resilience to change. We utilized contemporary and historical Landsat imagery, field data, and regression tree models to produce fractional cover maps of rangeland components (shrub, sagebrush...
Will CO 2 Emissions from Drained Tropical Peatlands Decline Over Time? Links Between Soil Organic Matter Quality, Nutrients, and C Mineralization Rates
19. Oktober 2017
Abstract Conversion, drainage, and cultivation of tropical peatlands can change soil conditions, shifting the C balance of these systems, which is important for the global C cycle. We examined the effect of soil organic matter (SOM) quality and nutrients on CO2 production from peat decomposition using laboratory incubations of Indonesian peat soils from undrained forest in Kalimantan and drained oil palm plantations in Kalimantan and Sumatra. We found that oil palm soils had higher C/N and lower SOM quality than forest soils. Higher substrate quality and nutrient...
Long-Term Persistence and Fire Resilience of Oak Shrubfields in Dry Conifer Forests of Northern New Mexico
17. Oktober 2017
Abstract Extensive high-severity fires are creating large shrubfields in many dry conifer forests of the interior western USA, raising concerns about forest-to-shrub conversion. This study evaluates the role of disturbance in shrubfield formation, maintenance and succession in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico. We compared the environmental conditions of extant Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii) shrubfields with adjoining dry conifer forests and used dendroecological methods to determine the multi-century fire history and successional dynamics of five of the largest shrubfields...
Climate Change Could Negate Positive Tree Diversity Effects on Forest Productivity: A Study Across Five Climate Types in Spain and Canada
17. Oktober 2017
Abstract A positive relationship between tree diversity and forest productivity is reported for many forested biomes of the world. However, whether tree diversity is able to increase the stability of forest growth to changes in climate is still an open question. We addressed this question using 36,378 permanent forest plots from National Forest Inventories of Spain and Québec (Eastern Canada), covering five of the most important climate types where forests grow on Earth and a large temperature and precipitation gradient. The plots were used to compute forest productivity...

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