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  • Volume 6 Issue 6
    A warming experiment with infrared radiators in a semiarid temperate steppe in the Mongolian Plateau since 2006 (Visit for detailed information). Photo taken by Shiqiang Wan.
    Research Articles
    Junyi Liang, Jianyang Xia, Lingli Liu, Shiqiang Wan
    2013, 6 (6): 437-447.
    Abstract ( 45 )   PDF   Save
    Aims The balance between leaf photosynthesis and respiration of terrestrial plants determines the net carbon (C) gain by vegetation and consequently is important to climate–C cycle feedback. This study is to reveal the global patterns of the responses of leaf-level net photosynthesis and dark respiration to elevated temperature.
    Methods Data for leaf-level net photosynthesis rate (P n) and dark respiration rate (R d) in natural terrestrial plant species with standard deviation (or standard error or confidence interval) and sample size were collected from searched literatures on Web of Science. Then a meta-analysis was conducted to estimate the effects of experimental warming on leaf-level P n and R d of terrestrial plants.
    Important findings Across all the plants included in the analysis, warming enhanced P n and R d significantly by 6.13 and 33.14%, respectively. However, the responses were plant functional type (PFT) specific. Specifically, photosynthesis of C4 herbs responded to experimental warming positively but that of C3 herbs did not, whereas their respiratory responses were similar, suggesting C4 plants would benefit more from warming. The photosynthetic response declined linearly with increasing ambient temperature. The respiratory responses linearly enhanced with the increase in warming magnitude. In addition, a thermal acclimation of R d, instead of P n, was observed. Although greater proportion of fixed C was consumed (greater R d / P n ratio), warming significantly enhanced the daily net C balance at the leaf level. This provides an important mechanism for the positive responses of plant biomass and net primary productivity to warming. Overall, the findings, including the contrastive responses of different PFTs and the enhancement in daily leaf net C balance, are important for improving model projection of the climate–C cycle feedback.
    Cynthia C. Chang, Melinda D. Smith
    2013, 6 (6): 448-458.
    Abstract ( 34 )   PDF   Save
    Aims and Methods Diversity-disturbance research has focused on community diversity, but disturbance frequency could impact diversity within species as well, with important consequences for community diversity and ecosystem function. We examined patterns of genetic diversity of a dominant grass species, Andropogon gerardii, in native North American tallgrass prairie sites located in eastern Kansas that have been subjected to a gradient of fire frequency treatments (burned every 1, 2, 4 or 20 years) since the 1970s. In addition, we were able to assess the relationships between genetic diversity of A. gerardii, species diversity and productivity across this range of fire frequencies.
    Important findings We found no significant relationships between genetic diversity of A. gerardii at the local scale (1 m 2 plot level) and disturbance frequency (burned 2 to 32 times over a 38-year period). However, at the site level (i.e. across all plots sampled within a site, ~100 m 2) there were differences in genotype richness and composition, as well as genomic dissimilarity among individuals of A. gerardii. Genotype richness was greatest for the site burned at an intermediate (4-year) frequency and lowest for the infrequently (20-year) burned site. In addition, genotypes found in the frequently burned sites were more similar from each other than expected by random chance than those found in the infrequently burned sites. Genotype composition of A. gerardii was not significantly different between the frequently burned sites (annual vs. 2 year) but did differ between frequently burned and infrequently burned sites (1 and 2 year vs. 4 and 20 year, etc.). Together, these results suggest site-level ecological sorting of genotypes in intact prairie across a broad gradient of disturbance frequencies, likely driven by alterations in environmental conditions. Frequent fire promotes the abundance of dominant grass species, reduces plant community diversity and impacts ecosystem processes such as productivity. Our study suggests that genetic diversity within dominant grass species also may be affected by disturbance frequency, which could have important implications for how species are able to respond to disturbance.
    Manuel de Paz, Estela Raffaele
    2013, 6 (6): 459-467.
    Abstract ( 40 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Variations in rates and length of flowering and fruiting not only affect the reproduction of a given plant species but also the behavior and reproduction of associated taxa. Flowering and fruiting variations may be influenced by herbivory, especially by large mammals. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of cattle browsing on the reproductive phenology of understory species in a subalpine post-fire Nothofagus forest in Patagonia.
    Methods The effects of herbivory on plant reproductive phenology were studied in a set of experimental exclosures (fenced plots) installed since 2001 in a post-fire N. pumilio forest, located in Nahuel Huapi National Park (NHNP), Argentina. We monitored the beginning and duration of each reproductive phenological stage: floral bud, open flower, immature fruit and mature fruit. We also counted the number of flowers, fruits, seeds and viable seeds of the dominant plants to assess whether browsing modifies temporal patterns of the flowering and fruiting periods.
    Important findings Cattle reduced the total number of species flowering and fruiting and changed the reproductive phenology of some species. We found that palatable species seem to be negatively affected by browsing in terms of reduced fitness due to changes in flowering and fruiting periods. In contrast, cattle benefitted the reproduction of non-palatable species and could promote the invasion of shade-intolerant exotic forbs such as Cirsium vulgare. The effects of livestock reported in this study are important to understanding how browsing could alter native species establishment and possibly alter successional trajectories during recolonization after fire.
    Gesine Pufal, Alexandra-Maria Klein
    2013, 6 (6): 468-479.
    Abstract ( 37 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Post-dispersal seed predation is an important ecosystem process because it can influence the seed's fate after the initial dispersal from the mother plant and subsequently transform communities. Even at small scales, post-dispersal seed predation can vary greatly depending on seed identity, granivorous taxa or microhabitat structure. However, little is known about the role of plant species richness and functional group richness in post-dispersal seed predation. The overall aim of this study was to test whether increasing plant species richness or plant functional group richness affects the rate and variability of post-dispersal seed predation. We additionally investigated the influence of vegetation structure and seed species identity on the rate and variability of post-dispersal seed predation and whether the influence of different granivorous taxa changed with increasing plant species richness.
    Methods We conducted seed removal experiments along a long-term experimental plant diversity gradient, comprising plots with monocultures to 60 species mixtures of common grassland species in Jena, Germany, in August 2011. We studied seeds of Onobrychis viciifolia, Pastinaca sativa and Trifolium pratense in exclusion experiments (seed cafeterias), an experimental setup that allowed access either for arthropods or slugs or for all granivorous taxa. Traditionally, seeds removed from seed cafeterias were classified as consumed but we used traceable fluorescent-coloured seeds to obtain more accurate predation rates by subtracting recovered seeds from overall removed seeds. The effect of multiple vegetation variables on mean and variability of seed predation rates was analysed using generalized mixed-effect models and linear regressions, respectively.
    Important findings Rates of recovered seeds were low but contributed to significant differences between seed predation rates and removal rates of seeds in some treatments. Seed predation rates were not directly correlated with increasing plant species richness or plant functional group richness but were influenced byseed species identity and granivorous taxa. Vegetation variables such as vegetation height and cover were significantly associated with seed predation rates. Depending on the seed species and/or the granivorous taxa, different vegetation variables correlated with seed predation rates. Our results indicate that effects of plant functional group richness and multiple vegetation variables on the magnitude of post-dispersal seed predation varied with seed identity and seed predator taxa. A direct effect of plant species and plant functional group richness could be shown on the variability of post-dispersal seed predation for some seed species and their respective predators. Thus, the changes in magnitude of post-dispersal seed predation with increasing plant species richness could potentially impact the fitness of some plant species and thereby influence plant community structure.
    Lloyd W. Morrison
    2013, 6 (6): 480-488.
    Abstract ( 42 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Nestedness is a characteristic of insular metacommunity structure. Relatively few studies, however, have attempted to evaluate temporal changes in nestedness, or elucidate the mechanisms underlying nestedness. I evaluated both spatial and temporal patterns of nestedness in the insular floras of four archipelagoes of small islands in the Bahamas and the potential underlying environmental gradients.
    Methods The NODF (a nestedness metric based on overlap and decreasing fill) and the matrix temperature measure, T, were used to quantify nestedness in insular floras on small islands near Abaco, Andros, Great Exuma and the Exuma Cays, Bahamas. Two different null models were employed for each nestedness measure. Six environmental variables were evaluated in relation to nestedness by ordering islands according to gradients and recalculating NODF scores.
    Important findings All archipelagoes were significantly nested. Nestedness among sites contributed more to overall nestedness than did nestedness among species. NODF scores varied among archipelagoes, but were surprisingly constant over time. Ordering islands by vegetated area yielded the highest nestedness scores for three archipelagoes; ordering islands by protection from exposure yielded the highest nestedness score for one archipelago. Nestedness scores varied little over time even though species compositions changed, indicating that extinctions occurred in a deterministic manner. The relative importance of area suggests extinction is an important mechanism in producing nestedness. Attempting to determine the relative importance of immigrations or extinctions requires some assumptions, however, and both processes are likely cumulative in most cases.
    Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Elvia J. Meléndez-Ackerman
    2013, 6 (6): 489-498.
    Abstract ( 51 )   PDF   Save
    Aims The spatial distribution of biotic and abiotic factors may play a dominant role in determining the distribution and abundance of plants in arid and semiarid environments. In this study, we evaluated how spatial patterns of microhabitat variables and the degree of spatial dependence of these variables influence the distribution and abundance of the endangered cactus Harrisia portoricensis.
    Methods We used geostatistical analyses of five microhabitat variables (e.g. vegetation cover, soil cover and light incidence) and recorded the abundance of H. portoricensis in 50 permanent plots established across Mona Island, Puerto Rico, by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service as part of the Forest Inventory and Analysis (USDA–FIA). We also used partial Mantel tests to evaluate the relationships between microhabitat variables and abundance of H. portoricensis, controlling for spatial autocorrelation.
    Important findings Abundance of H. portoricensis showed strong affinities with microhabitat variables related to canopy structure, soil cover and light environment. The distribution of this cactus species throughout the island was consistent with the spatial variation patterns of these variables. In general, landscape-level analyses suggested a predictive value of microhabitat traits for the distribution and abundance of this endangered species. For sensitive cacti species, wherein abundance may be influenced by similar variables, these types of analyses may be helpful in developing management plans and identifying critical habitats for conservation.
    Fan Liu, Wen ying Wu, Tao Wan, Qing feng Wang, Yu Cheng, Wei Li
    2013, 6 (6): 499-505.
    Abstract ( 27 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Adaptive plasticity of biomass allocation to different environmental stressors enables plants to maintain functional relationships among reproductive structures. In freshwater systems, water depth and nutrient content of sediments can have a major effect on biomass allocation in aquatic macrophytes. However, the relative importance of these two stressors is unknown as it is the temporal variation of biomass allocation to the stressors during the growing period. This information may be critical for understanding the tolerance of a plant to environmental conditions.
    Methods Here, we used four levels of environmental stressors generated by deep and shallow water and high or low sediment nutrient content in a factorial experiment to investigate the biomass allocation responses of a floating macrophyte, Trapella sinensis, during the growing period.
    Important findings The results showed that the lower sediment nutrient content inhibited biomass increase, whereas the lower water depth increased the sexual reproduction of the plants. The lower sediment content also led to a delay in flowering and compensated trade-offs among sexual reproduction and elongation and clonal reproduction during the growing period. These results indicated that water depth affected the ratio of biomass allocation, whereas the sediment nutrient content affected biomass accumulation when the plants faced these two environmental factors simultaneously. The temporal changes in allocation under lower sediment nutrient content underscored the importance of collecting data at different stages of growth when trying to interpret resource allocation, especially in resource-limited environments.
    Addo-Fordjour, Patrick; Rahmad, Zakaria B.; Shahrul, A. M. S.
    2013, 6 (6): 506-506.
    Abstract ( 55 )   PDF   Save
Impact Factor
5 year Impact Factor
Wen-Hao Zhang
Bernhard Schmid