Luzhen Chen, Wenqing Wang, Yihui Zhang, Guanghui Lin
2009, 2 (2): 45-54.
Aims In this paper, we highlighted some key progresses in mangrove conservation, restoration and research in China during last two decades.
Methods Based on intensive literature review, we compared the distribution and areas of existing mangroves among selected provinces of China, discussed the issues associated with mangrove conservation and restoration and highlighted major progresses on mangrove research conducted by key institutions or universities in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao.
Important findings The population boom and rapid economic developments have greatly reduced mangrove areas in China since 1980s, leaving only 22?700 ha mangroves in mainland China in 2001. Chinese government has launched a series of programs to protect mangroves since 1980s and has established mangrove ecosystems as high-priority areas for improving environmental and living resource management. During last three decades, a total of 34 natural mangrove conservation areas have been established, which accounts for 80% of the total existing mangroves areas in China. Mangrove restoration areas in Mainland China accounted for <7% of the total mangroves areas in 2002. A great deal of research papers on Chinese mangroves has been published in international journals. However, more systematic protection strategies and active restoration measurements are still urgently needed in order to preserve these valuable resources in China.
Xiaowen Wu, Yiqi Luo, Ensheng Weng, Luther White, Yong Ma, Xuhui Zhou
2009, 2 (2): 55-68.
Aims Data assimilation is a useful tool to extract information from large datasets of the net ecosystem exchange (NEE) of CO2 obtained by eddy-flux measurements. However, the number of parameters in ecosystem models that can be constrained by eddy-flux data is limited by conventional inverse analysis that estimates parameter values based on one-time inversion. This study aimed to improve data assimilation to increase the number of constrained parameters.
Methods In this study, we developed conditional Bayesian inversion to maximize the number of parameters to be constrained by NEE data in several steps. In each step, we conducted a Bayesian inversion to constrain parameters. The maximum likelihood estimates of the constrained parameters were then used as prior to fix parameter values in the next step of inversion. The conditional inversion was repeated until there were no more parameters that could be further constrained. We applied the conditional inversion to hourly NEE data from Harvard Forest with a physiologically based ecosystem model.
Important findings Results showed that the conventional inversion method constrained 6 of 16 parameters in the model while the conditional inversion method constrained 13 parameters after six steps. The cost function that indicates mismatch between the modeled and observed data decreased with each step of conditional Bayesian inversion. The Bayesian information criterion also decreased, suggesting reduced information loss with each step of conditional Bayesian inversion. A wavelet analysis reflected that model performance under conditional Bayesian inversion was better than that under conventional inversion at multiple time scales, except for seasonal and half-yearly scales. In addition, our analysis also demonstrated that parameter convergence in a subsequent step of the conditional inversion depended on correlations with the parameters constrained in a previous step. Overall, the conditional Bayesian inversion substantially increased the number of parameters to be constrained by NEE data and can be a powerful tool to be used in data assimilation in ecology.
Purnima Raizada, Anamika Singh, A. S. Raghubanshi
2009, 2 (2): 69-75.
Aims Global climate change and ongoing plant invasion are the two prominent ecological issues threatening biodiversity world wide. Among invasive species, Lantana camara and Hyptis suaveolens are the two most important invaders in the dry deciduous forest in India. We monitored the growth of these two invasive species and seedlings of four native dry deciduous species (Acacia catechu, Bauhinia variegata, Dalbergia latifolia and Tectona grandis) under ambient (375–395 μ mol mol-1) and elevated CO2 (700–750 μ mol mol-1) to study the differential growth response of invasive and native seedlings.
Methods Seedlings of all the species were exposed to ambient and elevated CO2. After 60 days of exposure, seedlings were harvested and all the growth-related parameters like plant height; biomass of root, stem and leaves; total seedling biomass; R/S ratio; allocation parameters; net assimilation rate (NAR) and relative growth rate (RGR) were determined.
Important findings Biomass, RGR and NAR of all the species increased under elevated CO2 but the increase was higher in invasive species and they formed larger seedlings than natives. Therefore under the CO2 -enriched future atmosphere, competitive hierarchies could change and may interfere with the species composition of the invaded area.
D. Abhilasha, J. Joshi
2009, 2 (2): 77-86.
Aims The superior performance of many non-indigenous species in a new range can be attributed to different factors such as pre-adaptation to environmental conditions in new areas or to factors inherent to displacement mechanisms such as loss of co-evolved pathogens and herbivores that increase the speed of evolutionary change towards a shift in allocation from defence to growth and reproduction. To assess the importance of the different mechanisms governing the success of Conyza canadensis, a globally successful invader, we simultaneously tested several recent hypotheses potentially explaining the factors leading to biological invasion.
Methods We tested (i) whether plants from the non-native range showed a higher fitness than plants from the native North American range, (ii) whether they differed in resistance against an invasive generalist herbivore, the slug Arion lusitanicus and against a recently established specialist aphid herbivore, Uroleucon erigeronense and (iii) experimentally assessed whether C. canadensis releases allelopathic chemicals that have harmful effects on competing species in the non-native range. We compared populations along a similar latitudinal gradient both in the native North American and invasive European range and analysed patterns of adaptive clinal variation in biomass production.
Important findings The invasion success of C. canadensis in Europe cannot be attributed to a single trait, but to a combination of factors. Invasive plants benefited from increased growth and above all, increased reproduction (a key trait in an annual plant) and were less attacked by a co-migrated specialist enemy. The observed loss of defence against generalist slugs did not translate into a decreased fitness as invasive C. canadensis plants showed a high re-growth potential. In contrast to earlier in vitro studies, we detected no allelopathic effects on the competing flora in the non-native range. The latitudinal cline in vegetative biomass production in the non-native range observed in our common garden study indicates a high adaptive potential. However, only further genetic studies will provide conclusive evidence whether the differentiation in the non-native range is caused by pre-adaptation and sorting-out processes of putatively repeatedly introduced populations of this composite, long-distance disperser with highly volatile seeds or evolved de novo as a rapid response to new selection pressures in the non-native range.
Cyrille Violle, Lin Jiang
2009, 2 (2): 87-93.
Aims Although the niche concept is of prime importance in ecology, the quantification of plant species' niches remains difficult. Here we propose that plant functional traits, as determinants of species performance, may be useful tools for quantifying species niche parameters over environmental gradients.
Important findings Under this framework, the mean trait values of a species determine its niche position along gradients, and intraspecific trait variability determines its niche breadth. This trait-based approach can provide an operational assessment of niche for a potentially large number of species, making it possible to understand and predict species niche shifts under environmental changes. We further advocate a promising method that recently appeared in the literature, which partitions trait diversity into among- and within-community components as a way to quantify the species niche in units of traits instead of environmental parameters. This approach allows the switch of the focus from ecological niches to trait niches, facilitating the examination of species coexistence along undefined environmental gradients. Altogether, the trait-based approach provides a promising toolkit for quantifying the species ecological niche and for understanding the evolution of species niche and traits.
Luca Wacker, Oksana Baudois, Susann Eichenberger-Glinz, Bernhard Schmid
2009, 2 (2): 95-106.
Aims Aboveground biomass production commonly increases with species richness in plant biodiversity experiments. Little is known about the direct mechanisms that cause this result. We tested if by occupying different heights and depths above and below ground, and by optimizing the vertical distribution of leaf nitrogen, species in mixtures can contribute to increased resource uptake and, thus, increased productivity of the community in comparison with monocultures.
Methods We grew 24 grassland plant species, grouped into four nonoverlapping species pools, in monoculture and 3- and 6-species mixture in spatially heterogeneous and uniform soil nutrient conditions. Layered harvests of above- and belowground biomass, as well as leaf nitrogen and light measurements, were taken to assess vertical canopy and root space structure.
Important findings The distribution of leaf mass was shifted toward greater heights and light absorption was correspondingly enhanced in mixtures. However, only some mixtures had leaf nitrogen concentration profiles predicted to optimize whole-community carbon gain, whereas in other mixtures species seemed to behave more 'selfish'. Nevertheless, even in these communities, biomass production increased with species richness. The distribution of root biomass below ground did not change from monocultures to three- and six-species mixtures and there was also no indication that mixtures were better than monocultures at extracting heterogeneously as compared to homogeneously distributed soil resources. We conclude that positive biodiversity effect on aboveground biomass production cannot easily be explained by a single or few common mechanisms of differential space use. Rather, it seems that mechanisms vary with the particular set of species combined in a community.