Current Issue
  • Volume 9 Issue 3
    Alternanthera philoxeroides is a kind of alien clonal weeds, which is native to South America and has invaded widely in China. Through a large scale field survey along latitudinal gradients, we found that A. philoxeroides invasion increased with latitude rising between N21°–N35° in terrestrial habitats of Mainland China. A small scale invasion could improve community species diversity, but A. philoxeroides reduced biodiversity sharply when its invasion cover exceeded a certain threshold (7%). Alpha diversity declined with latitude increasing in the invaded community (latitudinal gradient diversity, LDG). Thus, with a rapid global warming, the terrestrial A. philoxeroides invasion may be aggravated in higher latitudes in the future. See Hao Wu et al. in this issue.
    Céline Leroy, Jean-François Carrias, Régis Céréghino, Bruno Corbara
    2016, 9 (3): 241-255.
    Abstract ( 79 )   PDF   Save
    Aims One critical challenge for plants is to maintain an adequate nutrient supply under fluctuating environmental conditions. This is particularly true for epiphytic species that have limited or no access to the pedosphere and often live in harsh climates. Bromeliads have evolved key innovations such as epiphytism, water-absorbing leaf trichomes, tank habit and Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) photosynthesis that enable them to survive under various environmental conditions. Bromeliads encompass diverse ecological types that live on different substrates (they can be terrestrial, epilithic or epiphytic) and vary in their ability to retain water (they can be tank-forming or tankless) and photosynthetic pathway (i.e. C3 or CAM). In this review, we outline the nutritional modes and specializations that enable bromeliads to thrive in a wide range of nutrient-poor (mostly nitrogen-depleted) environments.
    Important findings Bromeliads have evolved a great diversity of morphologies and functional adaptations leading to the existence of numerous nutritional modes. Focusing on species that have absorptive foliar trichomes, we review evidence that bromeliads have evolved multi-faceted nutritional strategies to respond to fluctuations in the supply of natural nitrogen (N). These plants have developed mutualistic associations with many different and functionally diverse terrestrial and aquatic microorganisms and metazoans that contribute substantially to their mineral nutrition and, thus, their fitness and survival. Bacterial and fungal microbiota-assisted N provisioning, protocarnivory, digestive mutualisms and myrmecotrophic pathways are the main strategies used by bromeliads to acquire nitrogen. The combination of different nutritional pathways in bromeliads represents an important adaptation enabling them to exploit nutrient-poor habitats. Nonetheless, as has been shown for several other vascular plants, multiple partners are involved in nutrient acquisition indicating that there have been convergent adaptations to nutrient scarcity. Finally, we point out some gaps in the current knowledge of bromeliad nutrition that offer fascinating research opportunities.
    Research Articles
    Christy A. Lowney, Bradley D. Graham, Martin A. Spetich, Stephen R. Shifley, Michael R. Saunders, Michael A. Jenkins
    2016, 9 (3): 256-271.
    Abstract ( 48 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Using a network of permanent plots, we determined how multiple old-growth forests changed over an 18–19-year period at a state-wide scale. This examination of change allowed us to assess how the compositional and structural stability of each forest varied with site characteristics (topography, physiography and productivity) and stochastic disturbance.
    Methods In 2011, we resampled 150 plots distributed across five old-growth hardwood forests in Indiana, USA that were originally sampled in 1992–1993. Within each plot, we relocated and remeasured the diameter at breast height (dbh) of all trees (≥10.0cm) present during the 1992–1993 sample, which allowed us to track their individual fates through time for growth and mortality calculations. Trees that grew to ≥10.0cm dbh since plot establishment were designated as ingrowth. The dbh and species of all saplings (stems ≥2.0cm but <10.0cm dbh) were also recorded. For each forest, we calculated density (stems ha-1), basal area (BA; m 2 ha-1) and importance value (relative density + relative BA)/2) of trees by species. For saplings, density per ha was calculated by species for each forest. We also calculated annual mortality rate (AMR) for three diameter classes (10–29.9, 30–59.9 and ≥60cm) and species richness (S), evenness (E) and Shannon–Weiner diversity (H?) for the tree and sapling layers. Differences between years were compared for each forest using paired t -tests and Wilcoxon signed rank tests.
    Important findings Although we observed commonality in changes across some sites, our results suggest that these forests differ in their rates and trajectories of change. Changes in total stand BA and density varied across sites and were influenced by past disturbance and mortality rates. We observed a general increase in the overstory dominance of Acer saccharum coupled with a general decrease in the dominance of Quercus section Lobatae (red oak group) species. Mortality of overstory trees present in 1992–1993 ranged from 27% to 49% over the study period (mean AMR 1.6–3.7%). Most sites experienced greater mortality of early and mid-successional species, but one site experienced heavy mortality of Fagus grandifolia, a shade-tolerant late-successional species. Shade tolerant species, A. saccharum in particular, dominated the sapling layer at most sites. However, recruitment of this species into larger size classes did not occur uniformly across all sites and the species was comparatively uncommon at one site. Overall, our results suggest that old-growth remnants, even within a single state, cannot be viewed as equivalent units with regard to research or management. Stochastic disturbance events and surrounding land use may have amplified effects on small scattered remnants. Therefore, continued monitoring of these rare, but biologically important forests is critical to their long-term management and protection.
    Dominik Jaskierniak, George Kuczera, Richard G. Benyon, Arko Lucieer
    2016, 9 (3): 272-284.
    Abstract ( 88 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Natural and anthropogenic changes in forests can have important influences on transpiration and water production. Understanding the effects of increasing disturbances, due for example to climate change and forest harvesting, requires detailed information on how forest density and structural attributes relate to transpiration. Mean annual transpiration of eucalypt forest communities is often strongly correlated with total cross-sectional sapwood area. Our aim was to test an efficient method for estimating sapwood area at 1.3 m height (SA 1.3) in a large number of trees to understand the spatial heterogeneity of tree and stand sapwood area within and between forest communities, and develop allometric relationships that predict SA 1.3 with forest inventory data. We also apply tree competition models to determine the degree to which the relationship between SA 1.3 and tree basal area at 1.3 m height (BA 1.3) is influenced by competition.
    Methods We visited 25 recently harvested southeastern Australian forest sites consisting of 1379 trees and 5 Eucalyptus species to evaluate a new efficient data collection method for estimating SA 1.3 with tree taper and stump dimensions data using mixed effects models. The locations of 784 stumps within one 5-ha site were accurately mapped using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and four distance-dependent tree competition models were applied across the site to explain within-stand variation in the ratio of SA 1.3 to BA 1.3. Data from 24 additional sites, consisting of ten 15 m radial plots per site, were used to analyse within-site variation in R Ha (the ratio of stand sapwood area SA Ha to stand basal area BA Ha). The radial plots were merged within each site to evaluate between-site variations in R Ha across the landscape. For predicting SA Ha with forest inventory data, we computed the relationship between SA Ha and a new index of total stem perimeter per hectare, defined as ? B A H a N T, where N T is tree stocking density.
    Important findings Our 1379 measured stems represent the most comprehensive measure of sapwood area, surpassing the 757 measured stems in native eucalypt forests published in literature. The species-specific R Ha varied considerably across sites and therefore extrapolating SA Ha with spatially distributed BA Ha maps and a generalized R Ha would introduce local uncertainty. We found that the species-specific stem perimeter index was more effective at capturing variability in SA Ha across the landscape using forest composition, structure and density data (R 2 : 0.72–0.77). The strong correlation between tree SA 1.3 and BA 1.3 improved slightly using tree competition models (R 2 increased from 0.86 to 0.88). Relating SA Ha to routinely measured forest inventory attributes within permanent plots and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data may provide opportunities to map forest water use in time and space across large areas disturbed by wildfire and logging.
    Zheng Shi1, Yuanhe Yang, Xuhui Zhou, Ensheng Weng, Adrien C. Finzi, Yiqi Luo
    2016, 9 (3): 285-295.
    Abstract ( 64 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Carbon (C) sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems is strongly regulated by nitrogen (N) processes. However, key parameters that determine the degree of N regulation on terrestrial C sequestration have not been well quantified.
    Methods Here, we used a Bayesian probabilistic inversion approach to estimate 14 target parameters related to ecosystem C and N interactions from 19 datasets obtained from Duke Forests under ambient and elevated carbon dioxide (CO2).
    Important findings Our results indicated that 8 of the 14 target parameters, such as C:N ratios in most ecosystem compartments, plant N uptake and external N input, were well constrained by available datasets whereas the others, such as N allocation coefficients, N loss and the initial value of mineral N pool were poorly constrained. Our analysis showed that elevated CO2 led to the increases in C:N ratios in foliage, fine roots and litter. Moreover, elevated CO2 stimulated plant N uptake and increased ecosystem N capital in Duke Forests by 25.2 and 8.5%, respectively. In addition, elevated CO2 resulted in the decrease of C exit rates (i.e. increases in C residence times) in foliage, woody biomass, structural litter and passive soil organic matter, but the increase of C exit rate in fine roots. Our results demonstrated that CO2 enrichment substantially altered key parameters in determining terrestrial C and N interactions, which have profound implications for model improvement and predictions of future C sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems in response to global change.
    Andrea Catorci, Luca Malatesta, Jose Luis Velasquez, Federico Maria Tardella, Horacio Zeballos
    2016, 9 (3): 296-310.
    Abstract ( 75 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Facilitation is a key process in vegetation dynamics, driving the response to natural and anthropogenic pressures. In harsh-grazed systems, palatable plants mainly survive when nested under unpalatable tussocks and shrubs. The magnitude and direction of positive interactions are driven by resource availability, extent of herbivory and type of nurse species. We hypothesized that different combinations of disturbance and environmental stress affect community composition in the dry Puna (southern Peruvian Andes) by modifying nurse types and plant interactions in magnitude and specific associations. We investigated whether different combinations of stress and disturbance influence species richness, type and frequency of occurrence of nurse and beneficiary species and magnitude and patterns of plant interactions; whether nurse species influence these interactions and target species change their interactions under different combinations of stress and disturbance and whether plant functional traits differ in the studied communities and influence the pattern of spatial interactions.
    Methods We selected three plant communities subject to different precipitation and management regimes: in each we laid a number of transects proportional to its extension. Data collected include species presence/absence, type of spatial interactions with nurse species and functional traits. We calculated species richness and rarefaction patterns, described the patterns of plant–plant spatial interactions and investigated the associations between nurse and other species in the three communities using indicator species analysis (ISA). We performed ISA and correlation analysis to investigate whether plant functional traits influenced facilitative interactions.
    Important findings We found that different combinations of stress and disturbance shaped a complex set of responses, including changes in the nurse species set. Nurse composition influenced magnitude and direction of plant interactions under different stress intensities. Heavy disturbance increased the relative importance of facilitation, even if the overall number of facilitated species decreased. Under equivalent disturbance regimes, increased abiotic stress led to a greater importance of facilitation. Different combinations of stress and disturbance affected the community assemblage also by changing the behaviour of some non-nurse species. Both heavy disturbance and strong stress led to a decrease of trait states; with certain combinations of stress and disturbance, preferential distribution of these states was observed. We also found that plant traits were of key importance in determining facilitative interactions. Some traits were mainly associated with one type of spatial interaction: plant architecture, life cycle and root type influenced the type of interaction between nurses and beneficiaries under different combinations of stress and disturbance. Our results also demonstrate that in plant interaction research the object of observations (species per se, species percentage, etc.) might influence outputs, and to effectively assess the impact of different stress and disturbance intensities on plant interactions it is necessary to work at the community level to consider the whole species pool.
    Hao Wu, Juli Carrillo, Jianqing Ding
    2016, 9 (3): 311-319.
    Abstract ( 70 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Invasive species occurrence and their effects on biodiversity may vary along latitudes. We examined the occurrence (species cover) and relative dominance (importance value) of invasive alligator weed, Alternanthera philoxeroides, in its terrestrial habitat in China through a large-scale latitudinal field investigation.
    Methods We established 59 plots along the latitudinal transect from 21°N to 37°N. We recorded species name, abundance, height and individual species coverage of plants in every quadrat. We then measured α-species diversity variations associated with the A. philoxeroides community across the latitudinal range. We also analyzed the effect of latitude on plant species' distributions in this community by using canonical correspondence analysis (CCA).
    Important findings We found that species cover and importance value of A. philoxeroides increased in areas <35°N, but decreased at higher latitudes. Lower latitudes supported greater species diversity than higher latitudes. Small-scale invasion of A. philoxeroides was associated with higher species diversity, but community diversity was lower when A. philoxeroides species cover exceeded 36%. Community plant species changed from mesophyte to hygrophyte gradually from low to high latitude. Our research suggests that latitude had significant influences on community diversity which interacted with the biotic resistance of a community and impact of invasion. Consequently, A. philoxeroides may become more invasive and have greater negative impacts on community species diversity in higher latitudes as global climate changes.
    Jenifer König, Mark van Kleunen, Wayne Dawson
    2016, 9 (3): 320-327.
    Abstract ( 53 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Changes in soil microbial communities after occupation by invasive alien plants can represent legacy effects of invasion that may limit recolonization and establishment of native plant species in soils previously occupied by the invader. In this study, for three sites in southern Germany, we investigated whether invasion by giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea) leads to changes in soil biota that result in reduced growth of native plants compared with neighbouring uninvaded soils.
    Methods We grew four native plant species as a community and treated those plants with soil solutions from invaded or uninvaded soils that were sterilized, or live, with live solutions containing different fractions of the soil biota using a decreasing sieve mesh-size approach. We measured aboveground biomass of the plants in the communities after a 10-week growth period.Main Findings Across all three sites and regardless of invasion, communities treated with <20 μm soil biota or sterilized soil solutions had significantly greater biomass than communities treated with the complete soil biota solution. This indicates that soil biota>20 μm are more pathogenic to the native plants than smaller organisms in these soils. Across all three sites, there was only a non-significant tendency for the native community biomass to differ among soil solution types, depending on whether or not the soil was invaded. Only one site showed significant differences in community biomass among soil solution types, depending on whether or not the soil was invaded; community biomass was significantly lower when treated with the complete soil biota solution than with soil biota <20 μm or sterilized soil solutions, but only for the invaded soil. Our findings suggest that efforts to restore native communities on soils previously invaded by Solidago gigantea are unlikely to be hindered by changes in soil microbial community composition as a result of previous invasion.
    Ximei Zhang, Zhichao Pu, Yuanheng Li, Xingguo Han
    2016, 9 (3): 328-332.
    Abstract ( 98 )   PDF   Save
    Aims One major goal of modern community ecology is to understand how deterministic and stochastic processes combine to drive community assembly. However, little empirical knowledge is known about how their relative importance varies between common and rare species.
    Methods We exploited two 30-year data sets of plant communities in a temperate steppe using two different methods. One is a null model method, and the other is a recently developed direct-calculation method.
    Important findings We found that stochastic processes tended to be more important in influencing rare than common species. This finding suggests that stochastic forces may play a more important role in structuring communities with more rare species, providing a possible solution to the debate on the varied importance of deterministic and stochastic processes among different communities.
    Regina Berjano, Perrine Gauthier, Chiara Parisi, Valentine Vaudey, Virginie Pons, Alain Renaux, David Doblas, John D. Thompson
    2016, 9 (3): 333-345.
    Abstract ( 69 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Habitat fragmentation impacts the spatial extent and isolation of local populations and communities. Although the biological consequences of these impacts have been well studied at the site level, effects directly related to changes in the spatial configuration of populations in the landscape remain less clear. The objective of this study is to examine how changes in the spatial-scale configuration of populations are associated with variability in morph rations in the floral polymorphic Mediterranean geophyte Narcissus assoanus .
    Methods We performed a nested analysis of morph ratio variation at three spatial scales: a 50×50 km regional scale in SE France, in fourteen 1×1 km landscapes located in the same region, and within 12 spatially extensive population patches. We also quantified variation in the behaviour of pollinators in population patches of contrasting spatial configuration.
    Important findings At a regional scale, morph ratios show a geographic pattern of increasing isoplethy (1:1 morph ratio) away from centres of human population development and in upland pastures. At the landscape scale, isoplethy of local population patches is more correlated with decreased isolation among patches than with patch size. Finally, within local isoplethic populations, small patches can show significantly biased morph ratios. In small isolated patches, pollinators perform shorter flight distances among consecutive flower visits than in spatially extensive patches. This study of variation in a genetic polymorphism at multiple spatial scales provides new insights into the scale-dependent effects of habitat fragmentation and the potential occurrence of metapopulation dynamics in natural plant populations.
    Jinlei Zhu, Minghu Liu, Zhiming Xin, Yingming Zhao, Zhimin Liu
    2016, 9 (3): 346-356.
    Abstract ( 57 )   PDF   Save
    Aims How seed dispersal distance is related to various factors is a major challenge for seed ecologists. However, there are different answers as to which factor is most important in determining wind dispersal distance. This study is to quantitatively describe the relationship between various factors and primary wind dispersal distance of winged diaspores.
    Methods The dispersal distances of five morphologies of winged diaspores in Zygophyllum xanthoxylum (Zygophyllaceae) were measured under controlled conditions in a wind tunnel. The explanatory power of environmental factor (i.e. wind speed), plant trait (i.e. release height) and diaspore attributes (i.e. wing loading (the ratio of diaspore mass to projected area), settlement-velocity, shape index (the variance of diaspore length, width and thickness)) to the variation in dispersal distance was assessed by releasing diaspores at varying wind speeds and release heights.
    Important findings Wind speed and seed release height were the strongest explanatory factors to dispersal distance, contributing 41.1% and 24.8% (P < 0.01) to total variation in dispersal distance, respectively. Wind speed accounted more for relatively light disc-shaped seeds than for relatively heavy spherical seeds. Wing loading, shape index and settlement-velocity explained 9.0% (P < 0.01), 1.4% (P < 0.01) and 0.9% (not significant) of the variation in dispersal distance, respectively. From disc-shaped to four-winged diaspores, relative contributions of wing loading and shape index decreased but contribution of settlement-velocity increased. The relative contributions of various factors to wind seed dispersal distance may change with the change in seed morphology.
    Susan R. Whitehead, Jordan Tiramani, M. Deane Bowers
    2016, 9 (3): 357-366.
    Abstract ( 59 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Ripe, fleshy fruits generally function as rewards to attract mutualistic seed dispersers, but many fruits also contain high concentrations of toxic secondary metabolites. These compounds may serve a variety of adaptive roles in seed dispersal or as a defense against non-dispersing seed predators or pathogens. We tested the effects of iridoid glycosides from fruits of a hybrid bush honeysuckle, Lonicera × bella, on the growth of two pathogenic fungal strains associated with fruit rot, Alternaria tenuissima and Aspergillus tubingensis.
    Methods Fungi were isolated from field-collected L. × bella fruits and identified using molecular techniques. Their growth rates were assessed in vitro in the presence of varying concentrations of pure loganin, one of the most abundant iridoid glycosides in fruits, as well as fruit extracts containing a mix of at least seven different iridoid glycosides.
    Important findings Loganin had strong dose-dependent negative effects on the growth of both fungi. Extracts from fruits had no effect on Aspergillus but a strong antifungal effect on Alternaria that increased with fruit ripening. Total iridoid glycoside concentrations in extracts were not good predictors of variation in fungal growth, but several individual compounds had significant negative effects. Although iridoid glycosides have primarily been studied as antiherbivore defenses in leaves, these results indicate that they can also function to reduce the growth of fungi associated with fruit rot.
Impact Factor
5 year Impact Factor
Wen-Hao Zhang
Bernhard Schmid