Current Issue
  • Volume 11 Issue 3
    Dasvinder Kambo assessing current vs. past year cones on a Picea glauca (white spruce) tree on a north-facing slope in the Kluane Mountain Range of southwest Yukon (61.428°N, 139.485°W). Although the tree is less than 2 m tall, it still has evidence of cone production, which is typical during mast years. Photo taken by Ryan Danby, in summer 2014.
    Research Articles
    Xingyun Liang, Shirong Liu, Hui Wang, Jingxin Wang
    2018, 11 (3): 339-350.
    Abstract ( 122 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) stoichiometry contributes to understanding elemental compositions and coupled biogeochemical cycles in ecosystems. However, we know little about the temporal patterns of C:N stoichiometry during forest development. The goal of this study is to explore the temporal patterns of intraspecific and ecosystem components' variations in C:N stoichiometry and the scaling relationships between C and N at different successional stages.
    Methods Along forest development in a natural temperate forest, northeastern China, four age gradients were categorized into ca. 10-, 30-, 70- and 200-year old, respectively, and three 20 m × 20 m plots were set up for each age class. Leaves, branches, fine roots and fresh litter of seven dominant species as well as mineral soil at depth of 0–10 cm were sampled. A Universal CHN Elemental Analyzer was used to determine the C and N concentrations in all samples.
    Important findings Intraspecific leaf C, N and C:N ratios remained stable along forest development regardless of tree species; while C, N concentrations and C:N ratios changed significantly either in branches or in fine roots, and they varied with tree species except Populus davidiana (P < 0.05). For ecosystem components, we discovered that leaf C:N ratios remained stable when stand age was below ca. 70 years and dominant tree species were light-demanding pioneers such as Betula platyphylla and Populus davidiana, while increased significantly at the age of ca. 200 years with Pinus koraiensis as the dominant species. C:N ratios in branches and fresh litter did not changed significantly along forest development stages. C concentrations scaled isometrically with respect to N concentrations in mineral soil but not in other ecosystem components. Our results indicate that, leaf has a higher intraspecific C:N stoichiometric stability compared to branch and fine root, whereas for ecosystem components, shifts in species composition mainly affect C:N ratios in leaves rather than other components. This study also demonstrated that C and N remain coupled in mineral soils but not in plant organs or fresh litter during forest development.
    Quentin D. Read, Jeremiah A. Henning, Aimée T. Classen, Nathan J. Sanders
    2018, 11 (3): 351-363.
    Abstract ( 72 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Decades of empirical work have demonstrated how dominant plant species and nitrogen fertilization can influence the structure and function of plant communities. More recent studies have examined the interplay between these factors, but few such studies use an explicit trait-based framework. In this study, we use an explicit trait-based approach to identify potential mechanisms for community-level responses and to test ecological niche theory.
    Methods We experimentally manipulated plant communities (control, ?dominant species, ?random biomass) and nitrogen (N) inputs (control, +organic N, +inorganic N) in a fully factorial design. We predicted that traits related to plants' ability to take up different forms of soil N would differ between dominant and subordinate species, resulting in interactive effects of dominant species loss and N fertilization on plant community structure and function. The study took place in a montane meadow in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, USA.
    Important findings After four years, the plant community in removal plots converged toward a species composition whose leaf and root functional traits resembled those of the previously removed dominant species. Ecosystem productivity generally increased with N addition: soil carbon efflux was ~50% greater when either form of N was added, while inorganic N addition increased aboveground biomass production by ~60% relative to controls. The increase in production was mediated by increased average height, leaf mass:area ratio and leaf dry matter content in plant communities to which we added inorganic N. Contrary to our predictions, there were no interactive effects of N fertilization and dominant species loss on plant community structure or ecosystem function. The plant community composition in this study exhibited resistance to soil N addition and, given the functional convergence we observed, was resilient to species loss. Together, our results indicate that the ability of species to compensate functionally for species loss confers resilience and maintains diversity in montane meadow communities.
    Elena Hamann, Halil Kesselring, Jürg Stöcklin
    2018, 11 (3): 364-374.
    Abstract ( 82 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Effects of climate change, especially changes in temperatures and precipitation patterns, are particularly pronounced in alpine regions. In response, plants may exhibit phenotypic plasticity in key functional traits allowing short-term adjustment to novel conditions. However, little is known about the degree of phenotypic plasticity of high elevation species relative to mid elevation congeners.
    Methods We transplanted 14 herbaceous perennial species from high elevation into two common gardens (1050 and 2000 m.a.s.l.) in the Swiss Alps, and we examined plastic responses in key functional traits to changes in temperature and soil water availability. This design was replicated with 14 congeneric species from mid elevation to assess if the degree of phenotypic plasticity differs between mid and high elevation species. Survival was assessed across two growing seasons, while aboveground biomass and specific leaf area (SLA) were measured after the first growing season, and biomass allocation to belowground and reproductive structures after the second. Moreover, a phenotypic plasticity index was calculated for the functional traits to compare the degree of plasticity between mid and high elevation species.
    Important findings Aboveground biomass was higher in mid elevation species relative to high elevation congeners in all treatments, yet decreased for both with elevation and drought. Similarly, SLA decreased with elevation and drought. Root mass fraction (RMF) was generally higher in high elevation species, and decreased with drought at the lower site. Drought increased the allocation to reproductive structures, especially when plants were grown at their elevation of origin. Interestingly, no difference was found in the degree of phenotypic plasticity averaged across mid and high elevation species for any of the studied functional traits. These results indicate that phenotypic plasticity in the focal traits did not depend on the elevation of origin of the species. Plasticity was not related to environmental heterogeneity, nor constrained by selective pressures at high elevation. However, both species groups showed a remarkable capacity for short-term acclimation to a prospective climate through rapid adjustments in key functional traits.
    Joseph S. Diémé, Mayécor Diouf, Cristina Armas, Graciela M. Rusch, Francisco I. Pugnaire
    2018, 11 (3): 375-384.
    Abstract ( 76 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Addressing plant responses to water stress is critical to understand the structure of plant communities in water-limited environments and to forecast their resilience to future changes in climate. In a semiarid agroforestry system in the Sahelian savannah of Leona (Senegal), we selected nine common tree species and explored their stress-resistance mechanisms. These species represent a variety of life forms and are of high regional socio-economic importance. We hypothesized that different species would show different suites of traits to cope with water stress and expected to identify functional groups differing in strategies to withstand water shortage.
    Methods Along a dry and a wet season, we monitored four traits reflecting above- and below-ground strategies of resource acquisition such as predawn leaf water potential (ψ pd), specific leaf area (SLA), leaf thickness and leaf area index (LAI). We also measured two morphological traits: trunk diameter and tree height. LAI and ψ pd were measured six times during the dry and rainy seasons, and the other traits were measured once.
    Important findings We identified two functional classes subdivided into two functional groups of each class. The first class included deciduous and semi-deciduous species that generally had large SLA, low leaf thickness and small-to-intermediate inter-seasonal variations in ψ pd. The second class included evergreen species of two functional groups that differ in SLA, leaf thickness and the magnitude of inter-seasonal variations of ψ pd throughout the year. The four functional groups identified in this study represent plant strategies differing in their response to changing environmental conditions.
    Jan Thiele, Sascha Buchholz, Jens Schirmel
    2018, 11 (3): 385-393.
    Abstract ( 75 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Resistance distance (RD), based on circuit theory, is a promising metric for modelling effects of landscape configuration on dispersal of organisms and the resulting population and community patterns. The values of RD reflect the likelihood of a random walker to reach from a source to a certain destination in the landscape. Although it has successfully been used to model genetic structures of animal populations, where it most often outperforms other isolation metrics, there are hardly any applications to plants and, in particular, to plant community data. Our aims were to test if RD was a suitable metric for studying dispersal processes of plants in narrow habitat corridors (linear landscape elements [LLE]). This would be the case, if dispersal processes (seed dispersal and migration) resembled random walks. Further, we compared the model performance of RD against least-cost distance (LCD) and Euclidean distance (ED). Finally, we tested the suitability of different cost surfaces for calculations of LCD and RD.
    Methods We used data from 50 vegetation plots located on semi-natural LLE (field margins, ditches, road verges) in eight agricultural landscapes of Northwest Germany. We mapped LLE, including hedges and tree rows, from aerial images in a Geographic Information System, converted the maps into raster layers, and assigned resistance values to the raster cells, where all cells outside of LLE received infinite resistance and, thus, represented barriers to dispersal. For all pairs of plots within study areas, we calculated Jaccard similarity assuming that it was a proxy (or correlate) of dispersal events between plots. Further, we calculated RD and LCD of the network of LLE and ED between the plots. We modelled the effects of distance metrics on community similarity using binomial generalized linear mixed models.
    Important findings ED was clearly the least suitable isolation metrics. Further, we found that RD performed better than LCD at modelling Jaccard similarity. Predictions varied markedly between the two distance metrics suggesting that RD comprises additional information about the landscape beyond spatial distance, such as the possible presence of multiple pathways between plots. Cost surfaces with equal cell-level resistances for all types of LLE performed better than more complex ones with habitat-specific resistances. We conclude that RD is a highly suitable measure of isolation or, inversely, connectivity for studying dispersal processes of plants within habitat corridors. It is likely also suitable for assessing landscape permeability in other landscape types with areal habitats instead of narrow corridors. RD holds the potential to improve assessments of isolation (or connectivity) for models of regional population and meta-community dynamics.
    Hong Qian
    2018, 11 (3): 394-400.
    Abstract ( 69 )   PDF   Save
    Aims This study assesses the relationship between phylogenetic relatedness of angiosperm tree species and climatic variables in local forests distributed along a tropical elevational gradient in South America. In particular, this paper addresses two questions: Is phylogenetic relatedness of plant species in communities related to temperature variables more strongly than to water variables for tropical elevational gradients? Is phylogenetic relatedness of plant species in communities driven by extreme climatic conditions (e.g. minimum temperature (MT) and water deficit) more strongly than by climatic seasonal variability (e.g. temperature seasonality and precipitation seasonality)?
    Methods I used a set of 34 angiosperm woody plant assemblages along an elevational gradient in the Andes within less than 5 degrees of the equator. Phylogenetic relatedness was quantified as net relatedness index (NRI) and nearest taxon index (NTI) and was related to major climatic variables. Correlation analysis and structure equation modeling approach were used to assess the relationships between phylogenetic relatedness and climatic variables.
    Important findings Phylogenetic relatedness of angiosperm woody species in the local forest communities is more strongly associated with temperature-related variables than with water-related variables, is positively correlated with mean annual temperature (MAT) and MT, and is related with extreme cold temperature more strongly than with seasonal temperature variability. NTI was related with elevation, MAT and MT more strongly than was NRI. Niche convergence, rather than niche conservatism, has played a primary role in driving community assembly in local forests along the tropical elevational gradient examined. Negative correlations of phylogenetic relatedness with elevation and higher correlations of phylogenetic relatedness with elevation and temperature for NTI than for NRI indicate that evolution of cold tolerance at high elevations in tropical regions primarily occurred at recent (terminal) phylogenetic nodes widely distributed among major clades.
    Matheus Henrique Nunes, Marcela de Castro Nunes Santos Terra, Izabela Regina Cardoso de Oliveira, Eduardo van den Berg
    2018, 11 (3): 401-410.
    Abstract ( 96 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Riparian forests in the Brazilian Cerrado, also known as gallery forests, are very heterogeneous in structure, species composition and ecological features due to strong and abrupt variations of soil, hydrological and topographic properties. However, what are the variables driving forest carbon stock and productivity, mortality and recruitment in disturbed gallery forests?
    Methods We used 36 permanent plots data from a gallery forest in the Brazilian Cerrado. We investigated how tree community dynamics vary in a gallery forest on two contrasting disturbance levels—logged and non-logged—across a topographic gradient intrinsically related to differences in moisture conditions, edge effects, as well as soil fertility and texture.
    Important findings Soil variables were reduced into principal components and we used structural equation modelling to disentangle covarying variables. We also included carbon stocks as a determinant variable of dynamics rates. Logged forest had 50% higher productivity than non-logged forest and streamside forest had aboveground carbon stocks 70% higher than the forest edge. Both logging and natural disturbance drove variation in the carbon stocks which contributed to shaping productivity and recruitment rates. Distance from the river also drove mortality and carbon stock rates. Areas with high-carbon stocks favoured higher competition and lessened productivity and recruitment rates. Although soil fertility and texture are considered crucial components shaping forest dynamics, there was no clear influence of those variables on the present forest, probably because the strong effects of soil moisture, forest edge and disturbance disrupted the correlation between soil and forest dynamics.
    Dasvinder Kambo, Ryan K. Danby
    2018, 11 (3): 411-422.
    Abstract ( 75 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Several mechanistic hypotheses have been developed to explain the existence of alpine treelines worldwide. The reproduction limitation hypothesis (RLH) postulates that reproductive processes such as seed production and dispersal are restricted in treeline environments, thereby limiting the establishment of new individuals in advance of extant treelines. Despite its popularity, no study has tested this hypothesis in a comprehensive fashion. In this experiment, we attempted to answer whether there are enough viable seeds being dispersed beyond treeline for sexually mediated treeline advance, and what the implications of climate change might be on these processes.
    Methods We established 30 plots across two aspects (north vs. south) and three elevational habitats (forest, treeline and tundra) in a white spruce (Picea glauca) boreal forest-alpine tundra ecotone in southwest Yukon, Canada. In each plot, tree characteristics, seed production and predispersal damage were measured. Additionally, eight dispersal trays were positioned in each plot to measure seed rain, and germination trials with and without predation exclosures were constructed in a subset of plots to quantify dispersal and germination success.
    Important findings Results were highly variable both temporally and spatially. In 2014, a mast year, 69% of adult trees produced cones compared to 0.4% in the following year. Higher density of trees in forest plots compared to treeline and tundra resulted in greater seed production at lower elevations. Across all plots, 88% of seeds were damaged before dispersal or were not viable. Treeline plots had significantly greater predispersal damage. Seed rain was greater in south-facing plots than north-facing plots. Less than 2% of seeds produced on the landscape were dispersed into Tundra plots, located 50 m above treeline. There was a net movement of seeds from the north-facing slope to the south at our study site, likely due to prevailing winds during the dispersal period. Germination counts were more than double on north-facing slopes and one-third higher inside exclosures. Cumulatively, the results provide some evidence for the RLH. Collectively, the high amount of predispersal damage and non-viable seeds, variability associated with dispersal and significant seed predation can functionally influence treeline dynamics. These findings suggest that global treeline distribution models, which rely largely on temperature, may not be entirely accurate for predicting treeline advance—at least at finer temporal scales. Many stochastic factors need to align temporally for successful advance, which is likely to result in a lag of many decades between the period of temperature amelioration and an increased number of trees beyond extant treelines.
    Yanting Hu, Jianguo Gao, Ping Zhao, Weijun Shen, Peiqiang Zhao, Liwei Zhu, Guangyan Ni, Junfeng Niu, Lei Ouyang
    2018, 11 (3): 423-433.
    Abstract ( 72 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Exotic fast-growing tree species have been commonly planted as pioneer species to facilitate ecological restoration in South China. Their growth and resource utilization behavior related to intrinsic physiology and structural properties have profound influences on forest ecosystem. However, the contrastive research focusing on water utilization features along with xylem anatomical properties between native and exotic species is scarce in South China. The objective of this study is to investigate the sapwood anatomical characteristics and water utilization conditions of native and exotic fast-growing species, and to elucidate the relationship between sap-flux density and conduit features.
    Methods We measured sap-flux density, conduit length, diameter and density of four native species (Schima superba, Michelia macclurei, Castanopsis hystrix and Castanopsis fissa) and four exotic species (Eucalyptus citriodora, Eucalyptus urophylla × grandis, Acacia auriculaeformis and Acacia mangium). Sap flux density was measured based on the Granier's thermal dissipation probe method. The whole-tree water transport was quantified by multiplying sap-flux density by sapwood area. The measurements of conduit characteristics were conducted by using segregation and slice method.
    Important findings Sapwood area increased with the growing diameter at breast height (DBH) as a power function. Native species had a larger water-conducting tissue area than exotic species at the same DBH value when trees grew to a size with a certain value of DBH. The conduit diameter of exotic species was significantly larger than that of native species. Conversely, native species, such as S. superba and M. macclurei, had longer conduit length and higher conduit density than other tree species. Based on a physiological interpretation of the measured conduit characteristics, native tree species developed a safe water transport system while exotic fast-growing tree species come into being an efficient system instead. Water transport increased with the growing DBH as a power function, and the exponent for native species (1.60) was higher than that for exotic species (1.22). Under the combined impact of sap-flux density and sapwood area, native species presented a larger water transport at a larger DBH value, indicating that growth advantage of exotic fast-growing species might weaken as DBH increased.
    Hui Liu, Liwei Zhu, Qiuyuan Xu, Marjorie R. Lundgren, Keming Yang, Ping Zhao , Qing Ye
    2018, 11 (3): 434-444.
    Abstract ( 95 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Plants use a variety of hydraulic strategies to adapt to seasonal drought that differ by species and environmental conditions. The early-diverging Magnoliaceae family includes two closely related genera with contrasting leaf habits, Yulania (deciduous) and Michelia (evergreen), which naturally inhabit temperate and tropical regions, respectively. Here, we evaluate the hydraulic strategy of species from both genera that have been ex situ conserved in a subtropical region to determine how they respond to the novel cool–dry season climatic pattern.
    Methods We measured ecophysiological traits in five Michelia and five Yulania species conserved in the South China Botanical Garden in both wet and dry season conditions and monitored the whole-year sap flow for four of these species.
    Important findings We found that Magnoliaceae species that have been ex situ conserved in a subtropical climate did not suffer from excessive water stress due to the mild drought conditions of the dry season and the ecophysiological adjustments the species made to avoid this stress, which differed by leaf habit. Specifically, deciduous species completely shed their leaves during the dry season, while evergreen species decreased their turgor loss points, dry mass based photosynthetic rates, stomatal conductance and specific leaf areas (SLAs) compared to wet season measurements. In comparing the two distinct leaf habits during the wet season, the leathery-leaved evergreen species had higher leaf hydraulic conductance and leaf to sapwood area ratios than the papery-leaved deciduous species, while the deciduous species had greater hydraulic conductivity calculated on both a stem and leaf area basis, dry mass based photosynthetic rates, leaf nutrients, SLAs and stomatal sizes than the evergreen species. Interestingly, species from both genera maintained similar sap flow in the wet season. Both photosynthetically active radiation and vapour pressure deficit affected the diurnal patterns of sap flow in the wet season, while only vapour pressure deficit played a dominant role in the dry season. This study reveals contrasting hydraulic strategies in Yulania and Michelia species under subtropical seasonal conditions, and suggests that these ecophysiological adjustments might be affected more by leaf habit than seasonality, thus reflecting the divergent evolution of the two closely related genera. Furthermore, we show that Magnoliaceae species that are ex situ conserved in a subtropical climate are hydraulically sound, a finding that will inform future conservation efforts of this ancient family under the threat of climatic change.
    Xianzhi Wang, M. D. Farnon Ellwood, Dexiecuo Ai, Renyi Zhang, Gang Wang
    2018, 11 (3): 445-452.
    Abstract ( 78 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Species abundance distributions (SADs) are often used to verify mechanistic theories underlying community assembly. However, it is now accepted that SADs alone are not sufficient to reveal biological mechanisms. Recent attention focuses on the relative importance of stochastic dispersal processes versus deterministic processes such as interspecific competition and environmental filtering. Here, we combine a study of the commonness and rarity of species (i.e. the SAD) with mechanistic processes underlying community composition. By comparing the occurrence frequencies of each and every species with its abundance, we quantify the relative contributions of common and rare species to the maintenance of community structure. Essentially, we relate the continuum between commonness and rarity with that of niches and neutrality.
    Methods An individual-based, spatially explicit model was used to simulate local communities in niche spaces with the same parameters. We generated sets of assemblages from which species were eliminated in opposing sequences: from common to rare and from rare to common, and investigated the relationship between the abundance and frequency of species. We tested the predictions of our model with empirical data from a field experiment in the environmentally homogeneous alpine meadows of the Qinghai–Tibetan plateau.
    Important findings Our simulations support the widespread notion that common species maintain community structure, while rare species maintain species diversity, in both local and regional communities. Our results, both from theoretical simulations and from empirical observations, revealed positive correlations between the abundance of a particular species and its occurrence frequency. SAD curves describe a continuum between commonness and rarity. Removing species from the 'rare' end of this continuum has little effect on the similarity of communities, but removing species from the 'common' end of the continuum causes significant increases in beta diversity, or species turnover, between communities. In local communities distributed in a homogenous habitat, species located at the 'common' end of the continuum should be selected by environmental filtering, with niche space partitioning governed by interspecific competition. Conversely, species located at the 'rare' end of the continuum are most likely subject to stochastic dispersal processes. Species situated at intermediate locations on this continuum are therefore determined by niche and neutral processes acting together. Our results suggest that, in homogeneous habitats, SAD curves describing the common-rare continuum may also be used to describe the continuum between niches and neutrality.
    Yingbo Yang, Jacob Weiner, Gang Wang, Zhengwei Ren
    2018, 11 (3): 453-464.
    Abstract ( 72 )   PDF   Save
    Aims The community succession theory is much debated in ecology. We studied succession on Zokor rodent mounds on the Tibetan Plateau to address several fundamental questions, among them: (i) During secondary succession, does the community composition converge towards one community state or multiple states depending on the initial colonization? (ii) Do mound communities located in different background communities exhibit different assembly trajectories?
    Methods In a sub-alpine meadow, we investigated a total of 80 mound communities at several successional stages in three different background communities resulting from different management histories and compared their changes in species composition. The distribution of plant communities over time was analyzed with quantitative classification and ordination methods. The co-occurrence patterns of species were evaluated at each successional stage, and the degree of convergence/divergence among communities was obtained by calculating two beta-diversity indices.
    Important findings During secondary succession, species richness of mound communities changed over time, and this change was dependent on the background community. Five life-form groups exhibited different dynamic patterns in species richness and plant cover. Community composition and the degree of species co-occurrence between communities increased over time since disturbance. There was much variation in species composition at earlier stages of succession, but communities on older mounds became more similar to each other and to their surrounding vegetation over the course of secondary succession. Post-disturbance succession of Zokor mound communities transitioned from 'multiple alternative states' to 'background-based deterministic community assembly' over time. Tradeoffs between competition and colonization, as well as the characteristics of different life-forms and mass effects within a limited species pool are the mechanisms responsible for convergence of mound communities.
    Guilherme de Oliveira
    2018, 11 (3): 465-474.
    Abstract ( 90 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Biological invasions are recognized to put native species in risk of extinction. In this study, I tested whether the invasion of Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam. (Moraceae; jackfruit) in the Neotropics was explained by its biotic stability, an intrinsic force, or by human occupation, an extrinsic force.
    Methods I used an ensemble framework combining 12 ecological niche models (ENMs) and 4 atmosphere-ocean general circulation models. ENMs were constructed for the pre-industrial time period in the Indo-Malaya biogeographic region, the native habitat of A. heterophyllus, and were then projected to past (last glacial maximum, 21000 years ago and mid-Holocene, 6000 years ago) and future (end of century, 2080) periods. The ENMs were used to establish the biotic stability of A. heterophyllus in areas where it was predicted to be present concomitantly within these four time periods. This biotic stability was projected onto the Neotropics, and then I used a null model and logistic regression to test what the main driver of A. heterophyllus invasion.
    Important findings In general, the presence of A. heterophyllus in the Neotropics was not explained by biotic stability, tested by the null model. However, human occupation explained much of its presence in the invaded habitat, once all standardized coefficients related to this driver was significant positive in the logistic regression. Based on these results, humans sustained the presence of A. heterophyllus in the Neotropics, probably because of the additive influences of propagule pressure and habitat disturbance. Thus, the recommendation is that the cultivation of A. heterophyllus in the Neotropics must be regulated and supervised, primarily near reserve areas.
    Maria Paniw, Roberto Salguero-Gómez, Fernando Ojeda
    2018, 11 (3): 475-483.
    Abstract ( 95 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Fires play a crucial role mediating species interactions in the Mediterranean Basin, with one prominent example being the nursing effect of post-fire resprouting shrubs on tree recruits, which then outcompete their benefactors throughout succession. Yet, the community structuring role of resprouting shrubs as potential facilitators of post-fire recruiting subshrub species, which are commonly outcompeted in late post-fire stages, has been overlooked. The aims of this work were to investigate (i) whether proximity to resprouting shrubs increased the demographic performance of a fire-adapted carnivorous subshrub and (ii) whether mature shrubs negatively affected the performance of established plants through interference with prey capture.
    Methods To evaluate the facilitative effects of resprouting shrubs, we sowed seeds of Drosophyllum lusitanicum, a carnivorous, seeder pyrophyte, into two microhabitats in recently burned heathland patches defined by proximity to resprouting shrubs. We monitored key demographic rates of emerged seedlings for 2 years. To test for competitive effects of shrubs on plant performance at a later habitat regeneration stage, we placed greenhouse-reared, potted plants into distinct microhabitats in neighboring burned and unburned heathland patches and monitored prey capture. Both experiments were performed in the Aljibe Mountains at the Northern Strait of Gibraltar and were replicated in 2 years.
    Important findings Resprouting shrubs significantly improved survival, juvenile size and flowering probability compared with open microhabitats, and had no significantly negative effects on the growth of recruits. Prey capture was significantly lower in unburned heathland patches compared with burned ones, thus partly explaining the decrease in survival of Drosophyllum individuals in mature heathlands. However, microhabitat did not affect prey capture. Our findings suggest that not only periodic fires, removing biomass in mature stands, but also resprouting neighbors, increasing establishment success after fire, may be important for the viability of early successional pyrophytes.
    Jian Sun, Shuli Niu, Jinniu Wang
    2018, 11 (3): 484-492.
    Abstract ( 82 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Belowground to aboveground biomass (BGB/AGB) ratio is a highly valued parameter of the terrestrial carbon cycle and productivity. However, it remains far from clear whether plant biomass partitioning to aboveground and belowground is isometric (equal partitioning) or allometric (unequal partitioning) at community levels and what factors are necessary in order to regulate the partitioning. This study aimed to comprehensively find out the patterns of biomass partitioning and their regulatory factors across forests in China.
    Methods The data of AGB and BGB were compiled from 1542 samples for communities across forests in China. Standardized major axis regression was conducted to examine whether AGB and BGB were allocated isometrically or allometrically at a community level. Redundancy analysis was used to analyze the relationships of BGB/AGB ratio with climatic factors and soil properties.
    Important findings We found that the slopes of the relationship between logAGB and logBGB were not always comparable to 1.0 (isometric allocation) at community levels, including primary forest, secondary forest, and planted forest. Meanwhile, samples in clay, loam, and sand soil types also presented the same phenomenon. Furthermore, the radically different allocations of AGB and BGB were found in northern and southern China. Environmental factors totally explained 3.86% of the variations in the BGB/AGB ratio at the community level, which include the mean annual precipitation, mean annual temperature, potential water deficit index, soil carbon content, soil nitrogen content, soil clay, soil loam, soil sand, soil pH, and soil bulk density. In addition, the environmental factors also have effects on the BGB/AGB ratio in other categories. The patterns revealed in this study are helpful for better understanding biomass partitioning and spreading the carbon circle models.
    Robert Frederick, Bode Rebecca Tong
    2018, 11 (3): 493-501.
    Abstract ( 81 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Adaptive evolution of invasive species is both particularly exciting for the evolutionary biologist and worrisome for those interested in controlling or halting spread. Invasive species often have a distinct timeline and well-recorded population expansion. As invaders encounter new environments, they undergo rapid adaptive evolution. Our aim in this study was to measure variation of floral size in the invasive shrub Cytisus scoparius (Scotch broom) and measure natural selection by pollinators on that trait. Past research has found that this invasive plant is pollinator limited in Washington State and that declines in pollinator populations can contribute to local extinction in another invaded range (New Zealand). This plant is pollinated by both native and introduced species of bees, representing a broad range of pollinator sizes. Cytisus scoparius has a flower structure that is highly conducive to studies on pollinator choice, even in the absence of direct pollinator observations.
    Methods We surveyed urban and rural sites in and around the city of Olympia in Washington State. Measuring banner width, we were able to show that flower size varies substantially between plants but minimally within plants. By measuring the proportion of flowers that were 'tripped', we could determine pollinator visitation rates and thus determine the level of selection due to pollinator choice alone.
    Important findings We found that C. scoparius is under natural selection by pollinators for increased flower size. However, such positive natural selection was only seen in urban populations although it was consistent across two flowering seasons. Rural populations of Scotch broom do not appear to be under selection on flower size. The natural selection by pollinators on broom flowers could result in adaptive evolution into a new pollination niche by an invading species. A higher level of variation in broom flowers seen here than seen in previous works in native regions suggests that C. scoparius may be highly diverse and primed for adaptive evolution.
    Rocío Fernández-Zamudio, Pablo García-Murillo, Carmen Díaz-Paniagua
    2018, 11 (3): 502-510.
    Abstract ( 66 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Pond environmental conditions may differ among years with regards to the season in which ponds begin to fill. We experimentally evaluated how seedling emergence, plant growth and phenology differed among years in which filling occurred in winter, autumn or spring.
    Methods We collected sediments from a natural temporary pond and located them in aquariums. They were placed in a climatic chamber that simulated annual variation in field environmental temperatures and light conditions. Aquariums were assigned to one of three treatments, which differed in the date on which they were filled with water (autumn, winter and spring). We counted the number of seedlings of different species emerged and recorded data about the presence of flowers, seeds or spores every week. The experiment was finished in June, when we harvested the plants and estimated their biomass.
    Important findings In most species, seedling emergences were primarily related to time after filling, and thus synchronized their life cycles with the unpredictably timed wet phase of the ponds. Autumn filling resulted in the highest numbers of seeds/spores. However, winter filling promoted plant growth the most. In the spring filling treatment, more terrestrial plant seedlings emerged and fewer seeds/spores were produced. When ponds are flooded earlier, plants may produce a higher number of propagules. However, in years when inundation is delayed to spring and hydroperiods are short, seedling emergence deplete the seed bank and there is little to no seed production, while terrestrial monocots are able to colonize pond basin.
Impact Factor
5 year Impact Factor
Wen-Hao Zhang
Bernhard Schmid