1 Vegetation attributes derived from species and plant functional types (PFTs) directly or indirectly drive the carbon (C) cycle in peatlands. However, anthropogenic-based disturbances may alter petland soil-plant interactions and their ability to sequester carbon. Likewise, it is unclear how the soil-plant linkages among different soil C decomposition-based pools and plant attributes vary under disturbance conditions. 2 We aimed to assess how anthropogenic disturbances affect the relationships between aboveground vegetation attributes and belowground C pools in a peatland located in Northern Patagonia, Chile. We further evaluated if attributes derived from PFTs are better suited to predict soil C pools than attributes derived from species. We used structural equation modeling and regression analyses to explore these differences. 3 We found that undisturbed peatland has more soil-plant significant relationships between soil C pools and vegetation attributes, yielding higher predictive accuracies than disturbed areas. The species-based attributes yielded consistently better results predicting soil C pools than PFT-based attributes. However, PFT-based information showed significant interactions with the highly-decomposed C pools in the undisturbed peatland. Likewise, plant height and diversity were only significant with C pools in the undisturbed peatland. 4 We observed that water-logged plant communities have different soil-plant interactions than dryer communities. These differences were observed in both areas but were higher in the disturbed peatland, making it impossible to find meaningful soil-plant relationships across vegetation types and taxa. 5 Our results highlight the importance of accounting for disturbance or management when linking vegetation attributes to soil C pools in peatlands. This implies that up-to-date extensive monitoring of peatland disturbances is needed to accurately monitor soil C attributes at the regional level using vegetation as proxies. We also need to aggregate species into specific plant functional types that hold these soil-plant interactions across landscapes, regions, and disturbances to generalize the soil-plant relationships accurately.
The decline of coral reefs has fueled interest in determining whether mesophotic reefs can shield against disturbances and help replenish deteriorated shallower reefs. In this study, we characterized spatial (horizontal and vertical) and seasonal patterns of diversity in coral recruits from Dabaisha and Guiwan reefs at Ludao, Taiwan. Concrete blocks supporting terra cotta tiles were placed at shallow (15m) and mesophotic (40m) depths, during 2016-2018. Half of the tiles were retrieved and replaced biannually over three 6-month surveys (short-term); the remainder retrieved at the end of the 18-month (long-term) survey. 451 recruits were located using fluorescent censusing and identified by DNA barcoding. Barcoding the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene resulted in 17 molecular operational taxonomic units (MOTUs). To obtain taxonomic resolution beyond the generic level, Pocillopora were phylotyped using the mitochondrial open reading frame (ORF), resolving eight MOTUs. Acropora, Isopora or Montipora recruits were identified by the nuclear PaxC intron, yielding ten MOTUs. Overall, 35 MOTUs were generated and were comprised primarily of Pocillopora, and in fewer numbers, Acropora, Isopora, Pavona, Montipora, Stylophora, among others. 40% of MOTUs recruited solely within mesophotic reefs while 20% were shared by both depth zones. MOTUs recruiting across a broad depth distribution appear consistent with the hypothesis of mesophotic reefs acting as a refuge for shallow water coral reefs. In contrast, Acropora and Isopora MOTUs were structured across depth zones representing an exception to this hypothesis. This research provides an imperative assessment of coral recruitment in understudied mesophotic reefs and imparts insight into the refuge hypothesis.
Colony is the basic geometric construction of coral reef. However, both the forming regulations of colony and reef are still obscure. In this study, we reconstructed 21 important samples by high-resolution micro-computed tomography to investigate coral growth pattern and parameter. Our skeleton and canal reconstructions revealed characteristics of different coral species and we further visualized the growth axes and growth rings to reveal coral growth directions. We drew a skeleton gray-scale map and calculated coral skeleton void ratios to reveal skeletal diversity, devising a method to quantify coral growth. On the bases of the 3D reconstructions and growth parameters, we investigated growth strategies of different coral species. This work extends the knowledge of how reef-building corals grow their colonies, giving a hint on reef forming regulation. The data of this paper contain large amount of coral growth information, and can be used in further research on reef forming patterns under different conditions. The method used in this study can also be applied in animals with porous skeletons.
Aim: Drastic changes in fire regimes are altering plant communities, inspiring ecologists to better understand the relationship between fire and plant species diversity. We examined the impact of a 2011 megafire on woody plant species diversity in an arid mountain range in southern Arizona, USA. We tested recent fire-diversity hypotheses by addressing the impact of the fire severity, fire variability, historic fire regimes, and topography on diversity. Location: Chiricahua National Monument, Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona. USA., part of the Sky Islands of the US-Mexico borderlands. Taxon: Woody plant species. Methods: We sampled woody plant diversity in 138 plots before (2002-2003) and after (2017-2018) the 2011 Horseshoe Two Megafire in three vegetation types and across fire severity and topographic gradients. We calculated gamma, beta, and alpha diversity and examined changes over time in burned vs. unburned plots and the shapes of the relationships of diversity with fire severity and topography. Results: Alpha species richness declined and beta and gamma diversity increased in burned but not unburned plots. Fire-induced enhancement of gamma diversity was confined to low fire severity plots. Alpha diversity did not exhibit a clear continuous relationship with fire severity. Beta diversity was enhanced by fire severity variation among plots and increased with fire severity up to very high diversity, where it declined slightly. Main Conclusions: The results reject the intermediate disturbance hypothesis for alpha diversity but weakly support it for gamma diversity. Spatial variation in fire severity promoted variation among plant assemblages, supporting the pyrodiversity hypothesis. Long-term drought probably amplified fire-driven diversity changes. Despite the apparent benign impact of the fire on diversity, the replacement of two large conifer species with shrubs signals the potential loss of functional diversity, emphasizing the importance of intervention to direct the transition to a novel vegetation mosaic.
1. Teleost fishes occupy a range of ecosystem and habitat types subject to large seasonal fluctuations. Temperate fishes in particular, survive large shifts in temperature, light availability, and access to certain habitats across seasons. Yet, there is limited understanding of how behavioral responses to a seasonally shifting environment might shape, or be shaped by, the nervous system. 2. Here we quantified variation in relative brain size and the size of five externally visible brain regions in a freshwater top predator, lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), across six consecutive seasons in two different lakes. Acoustic telemetry data from one of our study lakes was collected during the study period from a different subset of individuals and used to infer relationships between brain size and seasonal behaviors (habitat use and movement rate). 3. Our results indicated that lake trout relative brain size was larger in the fall and winter compared to the spring and summer in both lakes. Larger brains coincided with increased use of nearshore lake habitats and increased horizontal movement rates by lake trout in the fall and winter based on acoustic telemetry. The telencephalon followed the same pattern as whole brain size, while the other brain regions (cerebellum, optic tectum, olfactory bulbs, hypothalamus) were only smaller in the spring. 4. Seasonal shifts in total brain size might reflect greater underlying changes in the size of the telencephalon. These findings provide evidence that flexibility in brain size could underpin shifts in behavior which could subserve functions associated with differential habitat use during cold and warm seasons and allow fish to succeed in seasonally variable temperate environments.
The mechanisms of adaptive radiation with phenotypic diversification and further adaptive speciation have been becoming clearer through a number of studies. Natural selection is one of the primary factors that contribute to these mechanisms. It has been demonstrated that divergent natural selection acts on a certain trait in adaptive radiation. However, it is not often known how natural selection acts on the source of a diversified population, although it has been detected in phylogenetic studies. Our study demonstrates how selection acts on a trait in a source population of diversified population using the Japanese land snail Euhadra peliomphala simodae. This snail’s shell colour has diversified due to disruptive selection after migration from the mainland to islands. We used trail-camera traps to identify the cause of natural selection on both the mainland and an island. We then conducted a mark-recapture experiment on the mainland to detect natural selection and compare the shape and strength of it to previous study in an island. In total, we captured and marked around 1,700 snails, and some of them were preyed on by an unknown predator. The trail-camera traps showed that the predator is the large Japanese field mouse Apodemus speciosus, but this predation did not correlate with shell colour. A Bayesian approach showed that the stabilising selection from factors other than predation acted on shell colour. Our results suggest that natural selection was changed by migration, which could explain the ultimate cause of phenotypic diversification in adaptive radiation that was not due to predation.
The assessment of wildlife population sizes and their trends is one of the most important research fields in conservation biology, as it is used to identify vulnerability soon enough to implement measures in threatened species, or to set up sustainable harvesting rates in exploited populations. Yet, because field work is expensive, may be difficult in terms of logistics and because some populations of the same species may be monitored by different stakeholders, population status often rely on fragmented and heterogenous information on sub-populations collected through various monitoring programs. In this context, data integration, i.e. the simultaneous analysis of different datasets in a single modelling framework allows to get unbiased and more precise trend estimates than separated analysis that in turn may lead to more adequate management policies. In this study we developed an integrated state-space model to jointly model populations growth rates from individual counts and hunting bags data for three hunted species of mountain Galliformes in Italy. We examined population trends at various spatial scales and disentangled the potential effect of game management plans from biological factors. The integration of counts and bags succeeded in improving growth rate parameter precision and in reducing proxy-specific bias by increasing the sample size and extending data series length. On a 19-year basis, all three species exhibited negative mean growth rates. We did not find strong regional patterns for Rock ptarmigan and Rock partridge, as a likely consequence of prevailing effects of local environmental conditions on population growth rate. Black grouse eastern populations exhibited lower growth rate than western populations. Our paper demonstrates that an integrated model of different index of population size of game species can provide more accurate values than separate analysis, we advocate to consider such an approach for other wildlife monitoring cases for which data is scarce.
Global climate change poses major challenges for current biodiversity conservation efforts. Assessing species’ vulnerability to climate change is a prerequisite for developing effective strategies to reduce emerging climate-related threats. We used the maximum entropy algorithm (MaxEnt model) to assess potential changes in snow leopard (Panthera uncia) suitable habitat in Qinghai Province, China under a mild climate change scenario. Our results showed that the area of snow leopard suitable habitat in Qinghai Province was 302,821 km2 under current conditions and 228,997 km2 under 2050’s climatic scenario, and that its mean elevation would shift upward 90 m. At present, nature reserves protect 38.78% of the currently suitable habitat and will protect 42.56% of future suitable habitat. Current areas climate refugia amounted to 212,341 km2, mainly distributed in Sanjiangyuan, Qilian mountains and surrounding areas. Our results provide valuable information for formulating strategies to meet future conservation challenges brought on by climate stress. We suggest that conservation efforts in Qinghai Province should focus on protecting areas of climate refugia and on maintaining or building corridors when planning for future species management.
Anthropogenic-driven global change, including changes in atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition and precipitation patterns, is dramatically altering N cycling in soil. How long-term N deposition, precipitation changes, and their interaction influence nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions remains unknown, especially in the alpine steppes of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP). To fill this knowledge gap, a platform of N addition and altered precipitation experiments was established in an alpine steppe of the QTP in 2013. N addition significantly increased N2O emissions, and alterations in soil NO3-N, pH, temperature, and belowground biomass modulated N2O emissions. In addition to abiotic parameters, ammonia-oxidizing bacteria dominated N2O emissions in nitrification compared with ammonia-oxidizing archaea. Changes in the denitrifying microbial community, namely a high ratio of (nirS+nirK) gene-containing to nosZ gene-containing organisms, were responsible for N2O emissions in denitrification. Altered precipitation did not affect N2O emissions. This unexpected finding, which is inconsistent with the conventional view that N2O emissions are controlled by soil water content, indicates that N2O emissions are particularly susceptible to N deposition in the alpine steppes. Notably, whereas N2O emissions were affected by N addition as a single factor, they were not significantly affected by the combination of precipitation changes and N addition, indicating that altered precipitation patterns may mitigate the positive feedback effect of N addition on N2O emissions. Consequently, our study suggests that the response of N2O emissions to N deposition in future global change scenarios will be affected by precipitation regimes in the alpine steppes.
Rapidly changing climate is likely to modify the spatial distribution of both flora and fauna. Land use change continues to alter the availability and quality of habitat and further intensifies the effects of climate change on wildlife species. We used an ensemble modelling approach to predict changes in habitat suitability for an iconic wildlife species, greater one-horned rhinoceros due to the combined effects of climate and land use changes. We compiled an extensive database on current rhinoceros distribution and selected nine ecologically meaningful environmental variables for developing ensemble models of habitat suitability using seven different species distribution modelling techniques in the BIOMOD2 R package; and we did this under current climatic conditions and then projected them onto two possible climate scenarios (SSP1-2.6 and SSp5-8.5) and two different time frames (2050 and 2070). Out of seven algorithms, random forest performed the best, and four environmental variables — distance from grasslands, distance from wetlands, annual precipitation, and slope, contributed the most in the model. The ensemble model estimated the current suitable habitat of rhinoceros to be 1,875 km2, about 1.3% of the total area of Nepal. The future habitat suitability under the lowest and highest emission scenarios was estimated to be: (1) 1,637 km2 and 1,417 km2 in 2050; and (2) 1,562 km2 and 1,301 km2 in 2070, respectively. Our results suggest that nearly one-third of the current rhinoceros habitat would become unsuitable within a period of 50 years, with the predicted declines being influenced to a greater degree by climatic changes than land use changes. We have recommended several measures to moderate these impacts, including relocation of the proposed Nijgad International Airport given that a considerable portion of potential rhinoceros habitat will be lost if the airport is constructed on the currently proposed site.
Ranaviral infections, a malady of ectothermic vertebrates, are becoming frequent, severe, and widespread, causing mortality among both native and cultured species, raising odds of species extinctions and economic losses. This turn of events is possibly due to the broad host range of ranaviruses and the transmission of these pathogens through regional and international trade in Asia, where outbreaks have been increasingly reported over the past decade. Here we focus attention on the origins, means of transmission, and patterns of spread of this infection within the region. Infections have been recorded in both cultured and wild populations in at least twelve countries/administrative regions, together with mass die-offs in some regions. Despite the imminent seriousness of the disease in Asia, surveillance efforts are still incipient. Some of the infections transmitted within Asia may transmit across host-taxon barriers, posing a significant risk to native species. Factors such as rising temperatures due to global climate change seem to exacerbate ranaviral activity, as most known outbreaks have been recorded during summer; however, data are still inadequate to verify this for Asia. Import risk analysis, using protocols such as Pandora+, pre-border pathogen screening, and effective biosecurity measures, can be used to mitigate introduction to uninfected areas and curb transmission within Asia. Comprehensive surveillance using molecular diagnostic tools for ranavirus species and variants will help in understanding the prevalence and disease burden in the region. This is an important step towards conserving native biodiversity and safeguarding the aquaculture industry.
Aim: Forests play a key role in regulating the global carbon cycle, a substantial portion of which is stored in aboveground biomass (AGB). It is well-understood that biodiversity can increase the biomass through complementarity and mass-ratio effects, and the contribution of environmental factors and stand structure attributes to AGB was also observed. However, the relative influence of these factors in determining the AGB of Quercus forests remains poorly understood. Location: Temperate Quercus forests in northeastern China. Methods: Using a large dataset retrieved from 523 permanent forest inventory plots across Northeast China, we examined the effects of integrated multiple tree species diversity components (i.e., species richness, functional and phylogenetic diversity), functional traits composition, environmental factors (climate and soil), stand age, and structure attributes (stand density, tree size diversity) on AGB based on structural equation models. Results: We found that species richness and phylogenetic diversity both were not correlated with AGB. However, functional diversity positively affected AGB via an indirect effect in line with the complementarity effect. Moreover, the community-weighted mean of specific leaf area and height increased AGB directly and indirectly, respectively; demonstrating the mass-ratio effect. Furthermore, stand age, density, and tree size diversity were more important modulators of AGB than biodiversity. Main conclusions: Our study highlights that biodiversity-AGB interaction is dependent on the regulation of stand structure that can be even more important for maintaining high biomass than biodiversity in temperate Quercus forests.
Climate change and other global change drivers threaten plant diversity in mountains worldwide. A widely documented response to such environmental modifications is for plant species to change their elevational ranges. Range shifts are often idiosyncratic and difficult to generalize, partly due to variation in sampling methods. There is thus a need for a standardized monitoring strategy that can be applied across mountain regions to assess distribution changes and community turnover of native and non-native plant species over space and time. Here, we present a conceptually intuitive and standardized protocol developed by the Mountain Invasion Research Network (MIREN) to systematically quantify global patterns of native and non-native species distributions along elevation gradients and shifts arising from interactive effects of climate change and human disturbance. Usually repeated every five years, surveys consist of 20 sample sites located at equal elevation increments along three replicate roads per sampling region. At each site, three plots extend from the side of a mountain road into surrounding natural vegetation. The protocol has been successfully used in 18 regions worldwide from 2007 to present. Analyses of one point in time already generated some salient results, and revealed region-specific elevational patterns of native plant species richness, but a globally consistent elevational decline in non-native species richness. Non-native plants were also more abundant directly adjacent to road edges, suggesting that disturbed roadsides serve as a vector for invasions into mountains. From the upcoming analyses of time series even more exciting results especially about range shifts can be expected. Implementing the protocol in more mountain regions globally would help to generate a more complete picture of how global change alters species distributions. This would inform conservation policy in mountain ecosystems, where some conservation policies remain poorly implemented.
Predation is the most common cause of nest failure in birds. While nest predation is relatively well studied in general, our knowledge is unevenly distributed across the globe and taxa, with for example limited information on shorebirds breeding in sub-tropics. Importantly, we know fairly little about the timing of predation within a day and season. Here, we followed 444 nests of red-wattled lapwings (Vanellus indicus), a ground-nesting shorebird, for a sum of 7828 days to estimate a nest predation rate, and continuously monitored 230 of these nests for a sum of 2779 days to reveal how the timing of predation changes over the day and season in a sub-tropical desert. We found that 312 nests (70%) hatched, 76 nests (17%) were predated, 23 (5%) failed for other reasons and 33 (7%) had an unknown fate. Daily predation rate was 0.95% (95%CrI: 0.76% – 1.19%), which for a 30-day long incubation period translates into ~25% (20% – 30%) chance of nest being predated. Such a predation rate is low compared to most other avian species. Predation events (N = 25) were distributed evenly across day and night, with a tendency for increased predation around sunrise. Predation rate and events were distributed evenly also across the season, although night predation was more common later in the season, perhaps because predators reduce their activity during daylight to avoid extreme heat. Indeed, nests were never predated when mid-day ground temperatures exceeded 45°C. Whether the diel activity pattern of resident predators undeniably changes across the breeding season and whether the described predation patterns hold for other populations, species and geographical regions awaits future investigations.
Also investigate how the potential distribution of this species changes with the addition of new records over the decades (decade effect). Assuming that (1: hypothesis of the effect of the decade) the addition of new occurrence records over time increases the potential size of the species distribution; and (2: Wallacean distance hypothesis) over the years, the new points added are increasingly distant from the research centers. Considering the geographic knowledge gap of Histiotu velatus, our objective is to report a new record of this species and estimate its potential distribution in South America through ENMs. For this, we compiled records of occurrence of species, selected from 1900 to 2015. We used 19 bioclimatic variables available in the WorldCLim database to estimate the potential distribution of the species and we used three modeling algorithms: Maximum Entropy (MXT) Random Forest (RDF) and Support Vector Machine (SVM). We selected the main bat research centers in Brazil, using the Lattes platform for the Wallacean distance hypothesis, using the Euclidean distance calculation. To test the hypothesis of the decade effect, we used beta regression analysis, taking conservative and non-conservative approaches. The results showed that the predicted area expanded and retracted over the decades, with an improvement in the accuracy of the models with the addition of new data. Most of the records are located in the southeastern region of Brazil, but the algorithms predicted areas in countries where there were no records. Only the conservatism approach has had a positive relationship over the decades. The distance from new points does not increase over the years of research centers.
We evaluated the response of liana community structure and the patterns of liana-tree interaction structure to forest edge in two moist semi-deciduous forests in Ghana (Asenanyo and Suhuma Forest Reserves: AFR and SFR, respectively). Liana community structure and liana-tree interactions were assessed in 24 50 × 50 m randomly located plots in three forest sites in each forest: edge, interior and deep-interior established at 0-50 m, 200 m and 400 m from edge. Edge effects positively and negatively influenced liana diversity in forest edges of AFR and SFR, respectively. There was a positive influence of edge disturbance on liana abundance in both forests. More liana species experienced positive magnitude of edge influence (MEI) on their abundance. We observed anti-nested structure in all the liana-tree networks in AFR, while no nestedness was observed in the three networks in SFR. The networks in both forests were less connected, and more modular and specialised than their null models. Many liana and tree species were specialised, with the specialisation tending to be symmetrical. Topologically, most of the species were peripherals, with only a few connectors, module hubs, and network hubs. Some of the species showed consistency in their topological roles from one site to another, while the roles of other species changed. Generally, liana species co-occurred randomly on tree species in all the forest sites except edge site in the Asenanyo Forest Reserve. The findings of the study deepen our understanding of liana-tree interactions, provide implications for conservation, and may contribute to development of a robust edge theory.
Heterogeneity in the intrinsic quality and nutritional condition of individuals affects reproductive success and consequently fitness. Understanding differences in energy allocation towards survival and reproduction within and among years might help explain variability in individual fitness. Black brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) are long-lived, migratory, specialist herbivores. Long migratory pathways and short summer breeding seasons constrain the time and energy available for reproduction, thus magnifying life-history trade-offs. These constraints, combined with long lifespans and trade-offs between current and future reproductive value, provide a model system to examine the role of individual heterogeneity in driving life-history strategies and individual heterogeneity in fitness. We used hierarchical Bayesian models to examine reproductive trade-offs, modeling the relationships between within-year measures of reproductive energy allocation and among-year demographic rates of individual females breeding on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska using capture-recapture and reproductive data from 1988 to 2014. We provide evidence for relationships between breeding probability and clutch size (posterior mean of β = 0.45, 95% CRI = 0.33 – 0.57, SD = 0.06), breeding probability and nest initiation date (posterior mean of β = -0.12, 95% CRI = -0.2 ¬– -0.04, SD = 0.04), and an interaction between clutch size and initiation date (posterior mean of β = -0.12, 95% CRI = -0.2 – -0.04, SD = 0.04). Average lifetime clutch size also had a weak positive relationship with survival probability (posterior mean of β = 0.03, 95% CRI = -0.01 – 0.7, SD = 0.02). Our results support the use of demographic buffering strategies for black brant; reductions in reproductive energy allocation preserve high adult survival rates during years with poor environmental conditions, maximizing future reproductive value. We also indirectly show links among environmental conditions during growth, fitness, and energy allocation, highlighting the effects of early growth conditions on individual heterogeneity, and subsequently, reproductive investment.
1) Food web models explain and predict the trophic interactions in a food web, and they can infer missing interactions among the organisms. The allometric diet breadth model (ADBM) is a food web model based on the foraging theory. In the ADBM the foraging parameters are allometrically scaled to body sizes of predators and prey. In Petchey et al. (2008), the parameterisation of the ADBM had two limitations: (a) the model parameters were point estimates, and (b) food web connectance was not estimated. 2) The novelty of our current approach is: (a) we consider multiple predictions from the ADBM by parameterising it with approximate Bayesian computation, to estimate parameter distributions and not point estimates. (b) Connectance emerges from the parameterisation, by measuring model fit using the true skill statistic, which takes into account prediction of both the presences and absences of links. 3) We fit the ADBM using approximate Bayesian computation to 16 observed food webs from a wide variety of ecosystems. Connectance was consistently overestimated in the new parameterisation method. In some of the food webs, considerable variation in estimated parameter distributions occurred, and resulted in considerable variation (i.e. uncertainty) in predicted food web structure. 4) We conclude that the observed food web data is likely missing some trophic links that do actually occur, and that the ADBM likely predicts some links that do not exist. The latter could be addressed by accounting in the ADBM for additional traits other than body size. Further work could also address the significance of uncertainty in parameter estimates for predicted food web responses to environmental change.