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Latest Results for Ecosystems
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Improved Coral Population Estimation Reveals Trends at Multiple Scales on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
22. Februar 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). The...
The Enemy of My Enemy Hypothesis: Why Coexisting with Grasses May Be an Adaptive Strategy for Savanna Trees
13. Februar 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 to...
Marine Ecosystems as Complex Adaptive Systems: Emergent Patterns, Critical Transitions, and Public Goods
09. Februar 2017
Abstract Complex adaptive systems provide a unified framework for explaining ecosystem phenomena. In the past 20 years, complex adaptive systems have been sharpened from an abstract concept into a series of tools that can be used to solve concrete problems. These advances have been led by the development of new techniques for coupling ecological and evolutionary dynamics, for integrating dynamics across multiple scales of organization, and for using data to infer the complex interactions among different components of ecological systems. Focusing on the development and...
Long-lasting Imprint of Former Glassworks on Vegetation Pattern in an Extremely Species-rich Grassland: A Battle of Species Pools on Mesic Soils
08. Februar 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...
Macrofaunal Functional Diversity Provides Resilience to Nutrient Enrichment in Coastal Sediments
07. Februar 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 two...
Inundation, Vegetation, and Sediment Effects on Litter Decomposition in Pacific Coast Tidal Marshes
03. Februar 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...
The Sensitivity of Evapotranspiration to Inter-Specific Plant Neighbor Interactions: Implications for Models
02. Februar 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 transpiration...
Interactive Effects Between Reindeer and Habitat Fertility Drive Soil Nutrient Availabilities in Arctic Tundra
01. Februar 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...
Carbon Dioxide and Methane Fluxes From Tree Stems, Coarse Woody Debris, and Soils in an Upland Temperate Forest
09. Januar 2017
Abstract Forest soils and canopies are major components of ecosystem CO2 and CH4 fluxes. In contrast, less is known about coarse woody debris and living tree stems, both of which function as active surfaces for CO2 and CH4 fluxes. We measured CO2 and CH4 fluxes from soils, coarse woody debris, and tree stems over the growing season in an upland temperate forest. Soils were CO2 sources (4.58 ± 2.46 µmol m−2 s−1, mean ± 1 SD) and net sinks of CH4 (−2.17 ± 1.60 nmol m−2 s−1). Coarse woody debris was a CO2 source (4.23 ± 3.42 µmol m−2 s−1...
Control Points in Ecosystems: Moving Beyond the Hot Spot Hot Moment Concept
06. Januar 2017
Abstract The phrase “hot spots and hot moments” first entered the lexicon in 2003, following the publication of the paper “Biogeochemical hot spots and hot moments at the interface of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems” by McClain and others (Ecosystems 6:301–312, 2003). This paper described the potential for rare places and rare events to exert a disproportionate influence on the movement of elements at the scale of landscapes and ecosystems. Here, we examine how the cleverly named hot spot and hot moment concept (hereafter HSHM) has influenced...
Short- and Long-term Influence of Litter Quality and Quantity on Simulated Heterotrophic Soil Respiration in a Lowland Tropical Forest
05. Januar 2017
Abstract Heterotrophic soil respiration (SRH) alone can contribute up to 50% of total ecosystem respiration in tropical forests. Whereas the abiotic controls of SRH have been extensively studied, the influence of plant traits is less well characterised. We used field experiments and a modelling approach to test the relative influence of plant traits on SRH in lowland tropical forest in French Guiana. We measured leaf- and root litter traits for five common tree species and conducted a root decomposition experiment to evaluate the influence of root chemistry on...
Climate, Topography, and Canopy Chemistry Exert Hierarchical Control Over Soil N Cycling in a Neotropical Lowland Forest
03. Januar 2017
Abstract Nutrient availability varies substantially across lowland tropical forests and constrains their responses to global change. However, interactions among regional, landscape, and local controls of nutrient availability are poorly understood. In that context, we explored the effects of rainfall, topography, and canopy chemistry on nitrogen (N) cycling across the Osa Peninsula (Costa Rica). We sampled soils from catenas in regions receiving 3000 versus 5000 mm y−1 rainfall. In both regions, we sampled catenas starting on narrow, knife-edged ridges, and in the...
A Framework for Evaluating Heterogeneity and Landscape-Level Impacts of Non-native Aquatic Species
03. Januar 2017
Abstract Non-native species are a major component of global environmental change, and aquatic systems are especially vulnerable to non-native species impacts. Much of the research on aquatic non-native species impact has occurred at the local or site level. In reality, non-native species impacts play out across multiple spatial scales on heterogeneous landscapes. How can we ‘scale up’ our understanding of site-level impacts to the broader landscape scale? To address this disconnect, we synthesize our current understanding of key components of landscape-scale...
Invasive N-fixer Impacts on Litter Decomposition Driven by Changes to Soil Properties Not Litter Quality
03. Januar 2017
Abstract Invasive nitrogen (N)-fixing plants often fundamentally change key ecosystem functions, particularly N-cycling. However, the consequences of this for litter decomposition, and the mechanisms that underpin ecosystem responses, remain poorly understood. Moreover, few studies have determined how nutrient pools and fluxes shift as invader density increases and whether these effects persist following invader removal, despite the importance of this for understanding the timing and magnitude of invader impacts in ecosystems. We tested how the decomposition rates of four...
Leaf Litter Fuels Methanogenesis Throughout Decomposition in a Forested Peatland
03. Januar 2017
Abstract Decomposing leaf litter is a large supply of energy and nutrients for soil microorganisms. How long decaying leaves continue to fuel anaerobic microbial activity in wetland ecosystems is poorly understood. Here, we compare leaf litter from 15 tree species with different growth forms (angiosperms and gymnosperms, deciduous, and longer life span), using litterbags positioned for up to 4 years in a forested peatland in New York State. Periodically, we incubated partially decayed residue per species with fresh soil to assess its ability to fuel microbial methane...
Challenges and Directions for the Advancement of Estuarine Ecosystem Science
01. Januar 2017
Abstract Estuarine ecosystem ecology is a dynamic field of study that has historically focused on a spectrum of compelling research topics, and here we present a series of perspectives on the major challenges to be overcome and key research questions to be addressed toward making progress over the coming decades. The challenges we identify include (1) maintaining and improving spatially distributed time-series datasets, (2) maximizing innovation by harnessing new technologies, (3) resuscitating experimental ecosystem research for estuaries, (4) integrating diagnostic...
To Tree or Not to Tree: Cultural Views from Ancient Romans to Modern Ecologists
01. Januar 2017
Abstract Few things are more defining in a landscape compared to the absence or presence of trees, both in aesthetic and in functional terms. At the same time, tree cover has been profoundly affected by humans since ancient times. It is therefore not surprising that opinions about deforestation and colonization of landscapes by trees have always been strong. Although loss of forests is often lamented, there is also profound cultural affection for open landscapes including some that have been deforested in the past. Here we take a historical view on perceptions of...
Losing Legacies, Ecological Release, and Transient Responses: Key Challenges for the Future of Northern Ecosystem Science
01. Januar 2017
Abstract Northern ecosystem processes play out across scales that are rare elsewhere on contemporary earth: large ranging predator–prey systems are still operational, invasive species are rare, and large-scale natural disturbances occur extensively. Disturbances in the far north affect huge areas of land and are difficult to control or manage. Historically, disturbance patterns and processes ranging across a number of spatio-temporal scales have played an important role in the resilience of northern ecosystems. However, due to interactions with a warming climate...
Moving Towards a New Urban Systems Science
01. Januar 2017
Abstract Research on urban ecosystems rapidly expanded in the 1990s and is now a central topic in ecosystem science. In this paper, we argue that there are two critical challenges for ecosystem science that are rooted in urban ecosystems: (1) predicting or explaining the assembly and function of novel communities and ecosystems under altered environmental conditions and (2) refining understanding of humans as components of ecosystems in the context of integrated social-ecological systems. We assert that these challenges are also linchpins in...
Research Frontiers in Ecosystem Service Science
01. Januar 2017
Abstract How are ecosystem services conceptualized, analyzed, and forecast into the future? How can ecosystem service science be advanced to improve environmental decision-making at all scales? In this paper, I focus on three critical challenges in ecosystem service science that must be addressed to better understand, forecast, and manage ecosystem services. These include (1) understanding the role of nonlinearities, feedbacks, and legacies in the sustainable and resilient provision of ecosystem services; (2) understanding the role and interplay of ecological and...

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