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Journal Cover Ecological Applications
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   ISSN (Print) 1051-0761 - ISSN (Online) 1939-5582
   Published by John Wiley and Sons Homepage  [1589 journals]
  • Finding Politically Feasible Conservation Policies: The Case of Wildlife
    • Authors: Timothy C. Haas; Sam M. Ferreira
      Abstract: Conservation management is of increasing importance in ecology as most ecosystems nowadays are essentially managed ones. Conservation managers work within a political-ecological system when they develop and attempt to implement a conservation plan that is designed to meet particular conservation goals. In this article, we develop a decision support tool that can identify a conservation policy for a managed wildlife population that is both sustainable and politically feasible. Part of our tool consists of a simulation model composed of interacting influence diagrams. We build, fit, and use our tool on the case of rhino horn trafficking between South Africa and Asia. Using these diagrams, we show how a rhino poacher's belief system can be modified by such a policy and locate it in a perceived risks-benefits space before and after policy implementation. We statistically fit our model to observations on group actions and rhino abundance. We then use this fitted model to compute a politically feasible conservation policy.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-12-16T01:29:48.621016-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1662
  • Demographic drivers of a refugee species: large-scale experiments guide
           strategies for reintroductions of hirola
    • Authors: Abdullahi H. Ali; Matthew J. Kauffman, Rajan Amin, Amos Kibara, Juliet King, David Mallon, Charles Musyoki, Jacob R. Goheen
      Abstract: Effective reintroduction strategies require accurate estimates of vital rates and the factors that influence them. The hirola (Beatragus hunteri) is the rarest antelope on Earth, with a global population size of
      PubDate: 2017-12-09T14:35:36.979166-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1664
  • Exacerbated grassland degradation and desertification in Central Asia
           during 2000-2014
    • Authors: Geli Zhang; Chandrashekhar M. Biradar, Xiangming Xiao, Jinwei Dong, Yuting Zhou, Yuanwei Qin, Yao Zhang, Fang Liu, Mingjun Ding, Richard J. Thomas
      Abstract: Grassland degradation and desertification is a complex process, including both state conversion (e.g., grasslands to deserts) and gradual within-state change (e.g., greenness dynamics). Existing studies hardly separated the two components and analyzed it as a whole based on time series vegetation index data, which however cannot provide a clear and comprehensive picture for grassland degradation and desertification. Here we proposed an integrated assessment strategy, by considering both state conversion and within-state change of grasslands, to investigate grassland degradation and desertification process in Central Asia. First, annual maps of grasslands and sparsely vegetated land were generated to track the state conversions between them. The results showed increasing grasslands were converted to sparsely vegetated lands from 2000 to 2014, with desertification region concentrating in the latitude range of 43-48°N. A frequency analysis of grassland versus sparsely vegetated land classification in last 15 years allowed a recognition of persistent desert zone (PDZ), persistent grassland zone (PGZ), and transitional zone (TZ). The TZ was identified in southern Kazakhstan as one hotspot which was vulnerable and unstable for desertification. Furthermore, the trend analysis of Enhanced Vegetation Index during thermal growing season (EVITGS) was investigated in individual zones using Linear Regression and Mann-Kendall approaches. An overall degradation across the area was found; moreover, the second desertification hotspot was identified in the northern Kazakhstan with significant decreasing in EVITGS, which was located in PGZ. Finally, attribution analyses of grassland degradation and desertification were conducted by considering precipitation, temperature, and three different drought indices. We found persistent droughts were the main factor for grassland degradation and desertification in Central Asia. Considering both state conversion and gradual within-state change processes, this study provided reference information for identification of desertification hotspots to support further grassland degradation and desertification treatment, and the method could be useful to be extended to other regions.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-12-02T10:48:02.20339-05:0
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1660
  • Making do with less: must sparse data preclude informed harvest strategies
           for European waterbirds'
    • Authors: Fred A. Johnson; Mikko Alhainen, Anthony D. Fox, Jesper Madsen, Matthieu Guillemain
      Abstract: The demography of many European waterbirds is not well understood because most countries have conducted little monitoring and assessment, and coordination among countries on waterbird management has little precedent. Yet intergovernmental treaties now mandate the use of sustainable, adaptive harvest strategies, whose development is challenged by a paucity of demographic information. In this study, we explore how a combination of allometric relationships, fragmentary monitoring and research information, and expert judgment can be used to estimate the parameters of a theta-logistic population model, which in turn can be used in a Markov decision process to derive optimal harvesting strategies. We show how to account for considerable parametric uncertainty, as well as for different management objectives. We illustrate our methodology with a poorly understood population of taiga bean geese (Anser fabalis fabalis), which is a popular game bird in Fennoscandia. Our results for taiga bean geese suggest that they may have demographic rates similar to other, well-studied species of geese, and our model-based predictions of population size are consistent with the limited monitoring information available. Importantly, we found that by using a Markov decision process, a simple scalar population model may be sufficient to guide harvest management of this species, even if its demography is age-structured. Finally, we demonstrated how two different management objectives can lead to very different optimal harvesting strategies, and how conflicting objectives may be traded off with each other. This approach will have broad application for European waterbirds by providing preliminary estimates of key demographic parameters, by providing insights into the monitoring and research activities needed to corroborate those estimates, and by producing harvest management strategies that are optimal with respect to the managers’ objectives, options, and available demographic information.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-12-02T10:42:57.996306-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1659
  • Using ricelands to provide temporary shorebird habitat during migration
    • Authors: Gregory H. Golet; Candace Low, Simon Avery, Katie Andrews, Christopher J. McColl, Rheyna Laney, Mark D. Reynolds
      Abstract: To help mitigate large wetland losses in California, The Nature Conservancy launched a dynamic conservation incentive program to create temporary wetland habitats in harvested and fallow rice fields for shorebirds migrating along the Pacific Flyway. Farmers were invited to participate in a reverse auction bidding process and winning bids were selected based on their cost and potential to provide high quality shorebird habitat. This was done in 2014 and 2015, for separate enrollment periods that overlapped with spring and fall migration, both before and after the traditional post-harvest flooding period. To assess the success of the program we monitored shorebird use of fields that were enrolled (treatments), and others that were subject to typical rice farm management (controls). To put these observations in context, we used satellites to simultaneously monitor the extent of shallow-water habitat across the ~215,000 hectares of ricelands in the area. Results showed that providing habitat during migration, when it is typically unavailable in rice fields, yielded the largest average shorebird densities ever reported for agriculture in the region. Treatment fields had significantly greater shorebird density, richness and diversity than control fields in both spring and fall (especially September – early October, and late March – early April), but in fall the difference was greater. Shorebird responses to habitat provisioning, and regional habitat conditions, were variable from year to year, and highly dynamic within a given season. Overall, shorebirds densities were found to be negatively related to the total amount of flooded habitat in the rice landscape. Factors that affected habitat availability included allocation schedules of water deliveries from reservoirs, and rainfall patterns, both of which were influenced by drought. Collectively, these results suggest that appropriately managed agricultural lands have great potential to provide high value habitat for shorebirds during times of habitat deficit, including migration, and that fall may be a particularly impactful time to create additional habitat. Migratory species face great challenges due to the climate change, conversion of historical stopover sites, and other factors, but dynamic conservation programs offer promise that, at least in certain instances, their needs can still be met.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-12-02T10:37:55.424945-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1658
  • Taking Error Into Account When Fitting Models Using Approximate Bayesian
    • Authors: Elske van der Vaart; Dennis Prangle, Richard M. Sibly
      Abstract: Stochastic computer simulations are often the only practical way of answering questions relating to ecological management. However, due to their complexity, such models are difficult to calibrate and evaluate. Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) offers an increasingly popular approach to this problem, widely applied across a variety of fields. However, ensuring the accuracy of ABC's estimates has been difficult. Here, we obtain more accurate estimates by incorporating estimation of error into the ABC protocol. We show how this can be done where the data consist of repeated measures of the same quantity and errors may be assumed to be normally distributed and independent. We then derive the correct acceptance probabilities for a probabilistic ABC algorithm, and update the ‘coverage test’ with which accuracy is assessed. We apply this method – which we call ‘error-calibrated ABC’ – to a toy example and a realistic 14-parameter simulation model of earthworms that is used in environmental risk assessment. A comparison with exact methods and the diagnostic ‘coverage test’ show that our approach improves estimation of parameter values and their credible intervals for both models.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-11-25T18:35:23.841338-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1656
  • Megafaunal effects on vegetation structure throughout a densely wooded
           African landscape
    • Authors: Andrew B. Davies; Angela Gaylard, Gregory P. Asner
      Abstract: Megafauna strongly affect vegetation structure and composition, often leading to management concern. However, the extent of their influence across large scales and varying ecosystems remains largely unknown. Using high resolution airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), we investigated landscape-scale changes in vegetation height and three-dimensional (3D) structure across landscapes of varying elephant densities and presence over time, and in response to surface water distribution and terrain variability in the heavily-managed thicket biome of the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Elephants caused up to a 4-fold reduction in vegetation height and altered the vertical profile, but increased vegetation height variability. Vegetation height also increased with elevation and distance from water, particularly in areas that elephants had long occupied at high densities. Slope had opposing effects on vegetation height, with height increasing with slope in areas long exposed to elephants, but decreasing where elephants had only recently been granted access. Our results suggest that elephants are the primary agents of vegetation change in this ecosystem, but the strength of their effects varies across the landscape, enabling management to use water and terrain as mitigation tools. We further highlight the necessity of landscape-level experimental studies on megafaunal effects to untangle mechanisms and establish causality.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-11-25T18:30:29.371749-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1655
  • Hierarchical multi-taxa models inform riparian vs. hydrologic restoration
           of urban streams in a permeable landscape
    • Authors: Daniel C. Gwinn; Jennifer Middleton, Leah Beesley, Paul Close, Belinda Quinton, Tim Storer, Peter M. Davies
      Abstract: The degradation of streams caused by urbanization tends to follow predictable patterns; however, there is a growing appreciation for heterogeneity in stream response to urbanization due to the local geoclimatic context. Furthermore, there is building evidence that streams in mildly sloped, permeable landscapes respond uncharacteristically to urban stress calling for a more nuanced approach to restoration. We evaluated the relative influence of local-scale riparian characteristics and catchment-scale imperviousness on the macroinvertebrate assemblages of streams in the flat, permeable urban landscape of Perth, Western Australia. Using a hierarchical multi-taxa model, we predicted the outcomes of stylized stream restoration strategies to increase the riparian integrity at the local scale or decrease the influences of imperviousness at the catchment scale. In the urban streams of Perth, we show that local-scale riparian restoration can influence the structure of macroinvertebrate assemblages to a greater degree than managing the influences of catchment-scale imperviousness. We also observed an interaction between the effect of riparian integrity and imperviousness such that the effect of increased riparian integrity was enhanced at lower levels of catchment imperviousness. This study represents one of few conducted in flat, permeable landscapes and the first aimed at informing urban stream restoration in Perth, adding to the growing appreciation for heterogeneity of the Urban Stream Syndrome and its importance for urban stream restoration.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-11-25T18:30:23.694933-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1654
  • Early ecological outcomes of natural regeneration and tree plantations for
           restoring agricultural landscapes
    • Authors: Ricardo G. César; Vanessa S. Moreno, Gabriel D. Coletta, Robin L. Chazdon, Silvio F.B. Ferraz, Danilo. R. A. de Almeida, Pedro H. S. Brancalion
      Abstract: Mixed tree plantings and natural regeneration are the main restoration approaches for recovering tropical forests worldwide. Despite substantial differences in implementation costs between these methods, little is known regarding how they differ in terms of ecological outcomes, which is key information for guiding decision-making and cost-effective restoration planning. Here, we compared the early ecological outcomes of natural regeneration and tree plantations for restoring the Brazilian Atlantic Forest in agricultural landscapes. We assessed and compared vegetation structure and composition in young (7-20 years old) mixed tree plantings (PL), second-growth tropical forests established on former pastures (SGp), on former Eucalyptus spp. plantations (SGe), and in old-growth reference forests (Ref). We sampled trees DBH 1-5 cm (saplings) and trees DBH>5 cm (trees) in a total of 32 20 x 45 m plots established in these landscapes. Overall, the ecological outcomes of natural regeneration and restoration plantations were markedly different. SGe forests showed higher abundance of large (DBH>20 cm) non-native species – of which 98% were re-sprouting Eucalyptus trees – than SGp and PL, and higher total aboveground biomass; however, aboveground biomass of native species was higher in PL than in SGe. PL forests had lower abundance of native saplings and lianas than both naturally established second-growth forests, and lower proportion of animal dispersed saplings than SGe, probably due to higher isolation from native forest remnants. Rarefied species richness of trees was lower in SGp, intermediate in SGe and Ref and higher in PL, whereas rarefied species richness of saplings was higher in SG than in Ref. Species composition differed considerably among regeneration types. Although these forests are inevitably bound to specific landscape contexts and may present varying outcomes as they develop through longer time frames, the ecological particularities of forests established through different restoration approaches indicate that naturally established forests may not show similar outcomes to mixed tree plantings. The results of this study underscore the importance that restoration decisions need to be based on more robust expectations of outcomes that allow for a better analysis of the cost-effectiveness of different restoration approaches before scaling-up forest restoration in the tropics.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-11-24T11:00:40.698865-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1653
  • Mechanism matters: the cause of fluctuations in boom-bust populations
           governs optimal habitat restoration strategy
    • Authors: Gina K. Himes Boor; Cheryl B. Schultz, Elizabeth E. Crone, William F. Morris
      Abstract: Many populations exhibit boom-bust dynamics in which abundance fluctuates dramatically over time. Past research has focused on identifying whether the cause of fluctuations is primarily exogenous, e.g., environmental stochasticity coupled with weak density dependence, or endogenous, e.g., over-compensatory density dependence. Far fewer studies have addressed whether the mechanism responsible for boom-bust dynamics matters with respect to at-risk species management. Here, we ask whether the best strategy for restoring habitat across a landscape differs under exogenously versus endogenously driven boom-bust dynamics. We used spatially explicit individual-based models to assess how butterfly populations governed by the two mechanisms would respond to habitat restoration strategies that varied in the level of resource patchiness – from a single large patch to multiple patches spaced at different distances. Our models showed that the restoration strategy that minimized extinction risk and boom-bust dynamics would be markedly different depending on the governing mechanism. Exogenously governed populations fared best in a single large habitat patch, whereas for endogenously driven populations, boom-bust dynamics were dampened and extinction risk declined when the total restored area was split into multiple patches with low to moderate inter-patch spacing. Adding environmental stochasticity to the endogenous model did not alter this result. Habitat fragmentation lowered extinction risk in the endogenously driven populations by reducing their growth rate, precluding both “boom” phases and, more importantly, “bust” phases. Our findings suggest that: 1) successful restoration will depend on understanding the causes of fluctuations in at-risk populations; 2) the level and pattern of spatiotemporal environmental heterogeneity will also affect the ideal management approach; and 3) counter-intuitively, for at-risk species with endogenously governed boom-bust dynamics, lowering the intrinsic population growth rate may decrease extinction risk.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-11-21T21:10:55.689549-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1652
  • Herbivory and drought generate short-term stochasticity and long-term
           stability in a savanna understory community
    • Authors: Corinna Riginos; Lauren M. Porensky, Kari E. Veblen, Truman P. Young
      Abstract: Rainfall and herbivory are fundamental drivers of grassland plant dynamics, yet few studies have examined long-term interactions between these factors in an experimental setting. Understanding such interactions is important, as rainfall is becoming increasingly erratic and native wild herbivores are being replaced by livestock. Livestock grazing and episodic low rainfall are thought to interact, leading to greater community change than either factor alone. We examined patterns of change and stability in herbaceous community composition through four dry periods, or droughts, over 15 years of the Kenya Long-term Exclosure Experiment (KLEE), which consists of six different combinations of cattle, native wild herbivores (e.g., zebras, gazelles), and mega-herbivores (giraffes, elephants). We used principal response curves to analyze the trajectory of change in each herbivore treatment relative to a common initial community and asked how droughts contributed to community change in these treatments. We examined three measures of stability (resistance, variability, and turnover) that correspond to different temporal scales and found that each had a different response to grazing. Treatments that included both cattle and wild herbivores had higher resistance (less net change over 15 years) but were more variable on shorter time scales; in contrast, the more lightly-grazed treatments (no herbivores or wild herbivores only) showed lower resistance due to the accumulation of consistent, linear, short-term change. Community change was greatest during and immediately after droughts in all herbivore treatments. But, while droughts contributed to directional change in the less grazed treatments, it contributed to both higher variability and resistance in the more heavily grazed treatments. Much of the community change in lightly grazed treatments (especially after droughts) was due to substantial increases in cover of the palatable grass Brachiaria lachnantha. These results illustrate how herbivory and drought can act together to cause change in grassland communities at the moderate to low end of a grazing intensity continuum. Livestock grazing at a moderate intensity in a system with a long evolutionary history of grazing contributed to long-term stability. This runs counter to often-held assumptions that livestock grazing leads to directional, destabilizing shifts in grassland systems.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-11-15T10:48:28.267256-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1649
  • Cumulative and partially recoverable impacts of nitrogen addition on a
           temperate steppe
    • Authors: Tianxiang Hao; Ling Song, Keith Goulding, Fusuo Zhang, Xuejun Liu
      Abstract: Atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition has been shown to decrease biodiversity and change nutrient cycles in terrestrial ecosystems. However, our understanding of ecological responses to chronic N addition and ecological recovery from N enrichment to grassland is limited. Here we present evidence from an 11-year grassland experiment with a range of N addition rates (0, 30, 60, 120, 240, and 480 kg N ha−1 yr−1) in Inner Mongolia, China. Chronic N addition led to a reduction in species richness, Shannon Diversity Index and soil pH, and an increase in aboveground biomass, foliar N and soil mineral N. High N addition rates (240 and 480 kg N ha−1 yr−1) showed significant effects in the first and second years, which stabilized over time. Nitrogen addition at low rates (30 and 60 kg N ha−1 yr−1) took longer (e.g., ≥ 3 years) to achieve significant effects. The negative impacts of high N addition (480 kg N ha−1 yr−1) were reduced and species richness, etc., showed a limited but rapid recovery with the cessation of N addition. Our findings suggest serious and cumulative impacts of N addition on plant and soil communities but the potential for partial system recovery over time if N inputs decline or cease.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-11-07T18:55:26.056016-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1647
  • Crop rotations for increased soil carbon: perenniality as a guiding
    • Authors: Alison E. King; Jennifer Blesh
      Abstract: More diverse crop rotations have been promoted for their potential to remediate the range of ecosystem services compromised by biologically simplified grain-based agroecosystems, including increasing soil organic carbon (SOC). We hypothesized that functional diversity offers a more predictive means of characterizing the impact of crop rotations on SOC concentrations than species diversity per se. Furthermore, we hypothesized that functional diversity can either increase or decrease SOC depending on its associated carbon (C) input to soil. We compiled a database of 27 cropping system sites and 169 cropping systems, recorded the species and functional diversity of crop rotations, SOC concentrations (g C kg soil−1), nitrogen (N) fertilizer applications (kg N ha−1 yr−1), and estimated C input to soil (Mg C ha−1 yr−1). We categorized crop rotations into three broad categories: grain-only rotations, grain rotations with cover crops, and grain rotations with perennial crops. We divided the grain-only rotations into two sub-categories: cereal-only rotations, and those that included both cereals and a legume grain. We compared changes in SOC and C input using mean effect sizes and 95% bootstrapped confidence intervals. Cover cropped and perennial cropped rotations, relative to grain-only rotations, increased C input by 42 and 23% and SOC concentrations by 6.3 and 12.5%, respectively. Within grain-only rotations, cereal + legume grain rotations decreased total C input (-16%), root C input (-12%), and SOC (-5.3%) relative to cereal-only rotations. We found no effect of species diversity on SOC within grain-only rotations. N fertilizer rates mediated the effect of functional diversity on SOC within grain-only crop rotations: at low N fertilizer rates (
      PubDate: 2017-11-07T14:50:21.909337-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1648
  • Trait-based indicators of bird species sensitivity to habitat loss are
           effective within but not across datasets
    • Authors: Jack H. Hatfield; C. David L. Orme, Joseph A. Tobias, Cristina Banks-Leite
      Abstract: Species’ traits have been widely championed as the key to predicting which species are most threatened by habitat loss, yet previous work has failed to detect trends that are consistent enough to guide large-scale conservation and management. Here we explore whether traits and environmental variables predict species sensitivity to habitat loss across two datasets generated by independent avifaunal studies in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil, both of which detected a similar assemblage of species, and similar species-specific responses to habitat change, across an overlapping sample of sites. Specifically, we tested whether 25 distributional, climatic, ecological, behavioral and morphological variables predict sensitivity to habitat loss among 196 bird species, both within and across studies, and when data were analysed as occurrence or abundance. We found that 4-9 variables showed high explanatory power within a single study or dataset, but none performed as strong predictors across all datasets. Our results demonstrate that the use of species traits to predict sensitivity to anthropogenic habitat loss can produce predictions that are species- and site-specific and not scalable to whole regions or biomes, and thus should be used with caution.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-10-30T09:45:20.591062-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1646
  • Uncovering state-dependent relationships in shallow lakes using Bayesian
           latent variable regression
    • Authors: Kelsey Vitense; Mark A. Hanson, Brian R. Herwig, Kyle D. Zimmer, John Fieberg
      Abstract: Ecosystems sometimes undergo dramatic shifts between contrasting regimes. Shallow lakes, for instance, can transition between two alternative stable states: a clear state dominated by submerged aquatic vegetation and a turbid state dominated by phytoplankton. Theoretical models suggest that critical nutrient thresholds differentiate three lake types: highly resilient clear lakes, lakes that may switch between clear and turbid states following perturbations, and highly resilient turbid lakes. For effective and efficient management of shallow lakes and other systems, managers need tools to identify critical thresholds and state-dependent relationships between driving variables and key system features. Using shallow lakes as a model system for which alternative stable states have been demonstrated, we developed an integrated framework using Bayesian latent variable regression (BLR) to classify lake states, identify critical total phosphorus (TP) thresholds, and estimate steady state relationships between TP and chlorophyll a (Chla) using cross-sectional data. We evaluated the method using data simulated from a stochastic differential equation model and compared its performance to k-means clustering with regression (KMR). We also applied the framework to data comprising 130 shallow lakes. For simulated datasets, BLR had high state classification rates (median/mean accuracy>97%) and accurately estimated TP thresholds and state-dependent TP/Chla relationships. Classification and estimation improved with increasing sample size and decreasing noise levels. Compared to KMR, BLR had higher classification rates and better approximated the TP/Chla steady state relationships and TP thresholds. We fit the BLR model to three different years of empirical shallow lake data, and managers can use the estimated bifurcation diagrams to prioritize lakes for management according to their proximity to thresholds and chance of successful rehabilitation. Our model improves upon previous methods for shallow lakes because it allows classification and regression to occur simultaneously and inform one another, directly estimates TP thresholds and the uncertainty associated with thresholds and state classifications, and enables meaningful constraints to be built into models. The BLR framework is broadly applicable to other ecosystems known to exhibit alternative stable states in which regression can be used to establish relationships between driving variables and state variables.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-10-30T09:40:25.672659-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1645
  • Cumulative effects of wildfires on forest dynamics in the eastern Cascade
           Mountains, USA
    • Authors: Matthew J. Reilly; Mario Elia, Thomas A. Spies, Matthew J. Gregory, Giovanni Sanesi, Raffaele Lafortezza
      Abstract: Wildfires pose a unique challenge to conservation in fire-prone regions, yet few studies quantify the cumulative effects of wildfires on forest dynamics (i.e. changes in structural conditions) across landscape and regional scales. We assessed the contribution of wildfire to forest dynamics in the eastern Cascade Mountains, USA from 1985 to 2010 using imputed maps of forest structure (i.e. tree size and canopy cover) and remotely-sensed burn severity maps. We addressed three questions: (1) How do dynamics differ between the region as a whole and the unburned portion of the region', (2) How do dynamics vary among vegetation zones differing in biophysical setting and historical fire frequency', (3) How have forest structural conditions changed in a network of late successional reserves (LSRs)' Wildfires affected 10% of forests in the region, but the cumulative effects at this scale were primarily slight losses of closed-canopy conditions and slight gains in open-canopy conditions. In the unburned portion of the region (the remaining 90%), closed-canopy conditions primarily increased despite other concurrent disturbances (e.g. harvest, insects). Although the effects of fire were largely dampened at the regional scale, landscape scale dynamics were far more variable. The warm ponderosa pine and cool mixed conifer zones experienced less fire than the region as a whole despite experiencing the most frequent fire historically. Open-canopy conditions increased slightly in the mixed conifer zone, but declined across the ponderosa pine zone even with wildfires. Wildfires burned 30% of the cold subalpine zone, which experienced the greatest increase in open-canopy conditions and losses of closed-canopy conditions. LSRs were more prone to wildfire than the region as a whole, and experienced slight declines in late seral conditions. Despite losses of late seral conditions, wildfires contributed to some conservation objectives by creating open habitats (e.g. sparse early seral and woodland conditions) that otherwise generally decreased in unburned landscapes despite management efforts to increase landscape diversity. This study demonstrates the potential for wildfires to contribute to regional scale conservation objectives, but implications for management and biodiversity at landscape scales vary geographically among biophysical settings, and are contingent upon historical dynamics and individual species habitat preferences.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-10-23T10:45:33.183586-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1644
  • Climate change leads to increasing population density and impacts of a key
           island invader
    • Authors: Gregory T.W. McClelland; Res Altwegg, Rudi J. van Aarde, Sam Ferreira, Alan E. Burger, Steven L. Chown
      Abstract: The considerable threats of invasive rodents to island biodiversity are likely to be compounded by climate change. Forecasts for such interactions have been most pronounced for the Southern Ocean islands where ameliorating conditions are expected to decrease thermal and resource restrictions on rodents. Firm evidence for changing rodent populations in response to climate change, and demonstrations of associated impacts on the terrestrial environment, are nonetheless entirely absent for the region. Using data collected over three decades on sub-Antarctic Marion Island, we tested empirically whether mouse populations have changed through time and whether these changes can be associated significantly with changing abiotic conditions. Changes in invertebrate populations, which have previously been attributed to mouse predation, but with little explicit demographic analysis, were also examined to determine whether they can be associated with changing mouse populations. The total number of mice on the island at annual peak density increased by 530.0% between 1979-80 and 2008-11. This increase was due to an advanced breeding season, which was robustly related to the number of precipitation-free days during the non-breeding season. Mice directly reduced invertebrate densities, with biomass losses of up to two orders of magnitude in some habitats. Such invertebrate declines are expected to have significant consequences for ecosystem processes over the long term. Our results demonstrate that as climate change continues to create ameliorating conditions for invasive rodents on sub-Antarctic islands, the severity of their impacts will increase. They also emphasize the importance of rodent eradication for the restoration of invaded islands.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-10-20T21:30:34.832604-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1642
  • Roads to ruin: conservation threats to a sentinel species across an urban
    • Authors: Blake E. Feist; Eric R. Buhle, David H. Baldwin, Julann A. Spromberg, Steven E. Damm, Jay W. Davis, Nathaniel L. Scholz
      Abstract: Urbanization poses a global challenge to species conservation. This is primarily understood in terms of physical habitat loss, as agricultural and forested lands are replaced with urban infrastructure. However, aquatic habitats are also chemically degraded by urban development, often in the form of toxic stormwater runoff. Here we assess threats of urbanization to coho salmon throughout developed areas of the Puget Sound Basin in Washington, USA. Puget Sound coho are a sentinel species for freshwater communities and also a species of concern under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Previous studies have demonstrated that stormwater runoff is unusually lethal to adult coho that return to spawn each year in urban watersheds. To further explore the relationship between land use and recurrent coho die-offs, we measured mortality rates in field surveys of 51 spawning sites across an urban gradient. We then used spatial analyses to measure landscape attributes (land use and land cover, human population density, roadways, traffic intensity, etc.) and climatic variables (annual summer and fall precipitation) associated with each site. Structural equation modeling revealed a latent urbanization gradient that was associated with road density and traffic intensity, among other variables, and positively related to coho mortality. Across years within sites, mortality increased with summer and fall precipitation, but the effect of rainfall was strongest in the least developed areas and was essentially neutral in the most urbanized streams. We used the best-supported structural equation model to generate a predictive mortality risk map for the entire Puget Sound Basin. This map indicates an ongoing and widespread loss of spawners across much of the Puget Sound population segment, particularly within the major regional north-south corridor for transportation and development. Our findings identify current and future urbanization-related threats to wild coho, and show where green infrastructure and similar clean water strategies could prove most useful for promoting species conservation and recovery.
      PubDate: 2017-10-18T08:00:49.388608-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1615
  • The role of driving factors in historical and projected carbon dynamics of
           upland ecosystems in Alaska
    • Authors: Hélène Genet; Yujie He, Zhou Lyu, A. David McGuire, Qianlai Zhuang, Joy Clein, David D'Amore, Alec Bennett, Amy Breen, Frances Biles, Eugénie S. Euskirchen, Kristofer Johnson, Tom Kurkowski, Svetlana (Kushch)Schroder, Neal Pastick, T. Scott Rupp, Bruce Wylie, Yujin Zhang, Xiaoping Zhou, Zhiliang Zhu
      Abstract: It is important to understand how upland ecosystems of Alaska, which are estimated to occupy 84% of the state (i.e. 1,237,774 km2), are influencing and will influence state-wide carbon (C) dynamics in the face of ongoing climate change. We coupled fire disturbance and biogeochemical models to assess the relative effects of changing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), climate, logging and fire regimes on the historical and future C balance of upland ecosystems for the four main Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) of Alaska. At the end of the historical period (1950-2009) of our analysis, we estimate that upland ecosystems of Alaska store ~50 Pg C (with ~90% of the C in soils), and gained 3.26 Tg C/yr. Three of the LCCs had gains in total ecosystem C storage, while the Northwest Boreal LCC lost C (-6.01 TgC/yr) because of increases in fire activity. Carbon exports from logging affected only the North Pacific LCC and represented less than 1% of the State's net primary production (NPP). The analysis for the future time period (2010-2099) consisted of six simulations driven by climate outputs from two climate models for three emission scenarios. Across the climate scenarios, total ecosystem C storage increased between 19.5 and 66.3 TgC/yr, which represents 3.4 to 11.7% increase in Alaska upland's storage. We conducted additional simulations to attribute these responses to environmental changes. This analysis showed that atmospheric CO2 fertilization was the main driver of ecosystem C balance. By comparing future simulations with constant and with increasing atmospheric CO2, we estimated that the sensitivity of NPP was 4.8% per 100 ppmv, but NPP becomes less sensitive to CO2 increase throughout the 21st Century. Overall, our analyses suggest that the decreasing CO2 sensitivity of NPP and the increasing sensitivity of heterotrophic respiration to air temperature, in addition to the increase in C loss from wildfires weakens the C sink from upland ecosystems of Alaska and will ultimately lead to a source of CO2 to the atmosphere beyond 2100. Therefore, we conclude that the increasing regional C sink we estimate for the 21st Century will most likely be transitional.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-10-17T07:16:48.290036-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1641
  • Ecosystem Regime Shifts Disrupt Trophic Structure
    • Authors: Tessa N. Hempson; Nicholas A.J. Graham, M. Aaron MacNeil, Andrew S. Hoey, Shaun K. Wilson
      Abstract: Regime shifts between alternative stable ecosystem states are becoming commonplace due to the combined effects of local stressors and global climate change. Alternative states are characterised as substantially different in form and function to pre-disturbance states, disrupting the delivery of ecosystem services and functions. On coral reefs, regime shifts are typically characterised by a change in the benthic composition from coral- to macroalgal-dominance. Such fundamental shifts in the benthos are anticipated to impact associated fish communities that are reliant on the reef for food and shelter, yet there is limited understanding of how regime shifts propagate through the fish community over time, relative to initial or recovery conditions. This study addresses this knowledge gap using long-term data of coral reef regime shifts and recovery on Seychelles reefs following the 1998 mass bleaching event. It shows how trophic structure of the reef fish community becomes increasingly dissimilar between alternative reef ecosystem states (regime-shifted vs recovering) with time since disturbance. Regime-shifted reefs developed a concave trophic structure, with increased biomass in base trophic levels as herbivorous species benefitted from increased algal resources. Mid trophic level species, including specialists such as corallivores, declined with loss of coral habitat, while biomass was retained in upper trophic levels by large-bodied, generalist invertivores. Recovering reefs also experienced an initial decline in mid trophic level biomass, but moved towards a bottom-heavy pyramid shape, with a wide range of feeding groups (e.g. planktivores, corallivores, omnivores) represented at mid trophic levels. Given the importance of coral reef fishes in maintaining the ecological function of coral reef ecosystems and their associated fisheries, understanding the effects of regime shifts on these communities is essential to inform decisions that enhance ecological resilience and economic sustainability.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-10-16T04:01:23.316218-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1639
  • Feces nitrogen release induced by different large herbivores in a dry
    • Authors: Jingzhi Wang; Deli Wang, Chunqiang Li, Timothy R. Seastedt, Cunzhu Liang, Ling Wang, Wei Sun, Maowei Liang, Yu Li
      Abstract: Large herbivores have pronounced effects on nutrient cycling in grasslands. These organisms are known to alter the quality and quantity of plant production as well as the amounts and quality of plant litter and animal wastes. The generalization that the relative quality of detritus inputs is enhanced by herbivores is well known, but how this process is affected by diet selection processing and feces production of different large herbivores remains largely unstudied. Here, we measured how these differences for cattle and sheep on a dry grassland might influence nitrogen (N) mineralization from feces. We found that cattle of larger body size tended to select low quality grass Stipa grandis as the major food source. In contrast, the subdominant grass Leymus chinensis with relatively high N content was a majority in the diet of smaller sheep, when palatable forbs were insufficient in the field. This diverse diet quality resulted in a C/N ratio of cattle feces that was higher than that of sheep feces. Relatively higher labile C availability in the cattle feces, namely relatively higher cellulose/hemicellulose contents, promoted microbial growth and in turn accelerated cattle feces decomposition. A surprise finding was that the feces from cattle mineralized about twice as much N as feces from sheep, despite the latter having slightly higher N content. From a grassland productivity perspective, increasing the proportion of large body-sized species in grazing herbivore assemblages perhaps is beneficial to forage productivity and nutrient recycling by the rapid degradation of feces.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-10-16T03:55:24.630213-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1640
  • Modeling plant composition as community-continua in a forest landscape
           with LiDAR and hyperspectral remote sensing
    • Authors: C. R Hakkenberg; R. K Peet, D. L Urban, C Song
      Abstract: In light of the need to operationalize the mapping of forest composition at landscape scales, this study uses multi-scale nested vegetation sampling in conjunction with LiDAR-hyperspectral remotely-sensed data from the G-LiHT airborne sensor to map vascular plant compositional turnover in a compositionally- and structurally-complex North Carolina Piedmont forest. Reflecting a shift in emphasis from remotely sensing individual crowns to detecting aggregate optical-structural properties of forest stands, predictive maps reflect the composition of entire vascular plant communities - inclusive of those species smaller than the resolution of the remotely-sensed imagery, intertwined with proximate taxa, or otherwise obscured from optical sensors by dense upper canopies. Stand-scale vascular plant composition is modeled as community-continua: where discrete community-unit classes at different compositional resolutions provide interpretable context for continuous gradient maps that depict n-dimensional compositional complexity as a single, consistent RGB color combination. In total, derived remotely-sensed predictors explain 71%, 54%, and 48% of the variation in the first three components of vascular plant composition, respectively. Among all remotely-sensed environmental gradients, topography derived from LiDAR ground returns, forest structure estimated from LiDAR all returns, and morphological-biochemical traits determined from hyperspectral imagery each significantly correspond to the three primary axes of floristic composition in the study site. Results confirm the complementarity of LiDAR and hyperspectral sensors for modeling the environmental gradients constraining landscape turnover in vascular plant composition and hold promise for predictive mapping applications spanning local land management to global ecosystem modeling.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-10-10T08:51:14.68451-05:0
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1638
  • Chlorpyrifos interacts with other agricultural stressors to alter stream
           communities in laboratory microcosms
    • Authors: Ana M. Chará-Serna; John S. Richardson
      Abstract: Chlorpyrifos is one of the most widely used agricultural insecticides in the world, but to date there is limited empirical information about its potential to interact with other common agricultural stressors. We conducted a 15-day, community-level microcosm experiment evaluating individual and combined effects of chlorpyrifos, nutrient enrichment, and sedimentation on stream invertebrate communities (abundance, biomass, richness, size structure, composition) and ecosystem processes (primary productivity and leaf decomposition). We found that sedimentation was the most detrimental stressor, with significant negative impacts on most invertebrate community and ecosystem function variables. Even though chlorpyrifos did not cause significant invertebrate mortality in the microcosms, it still altered ecosystem function by lowering leaf decomposition rates, probably through sublethal inhibition of invertebrate shredders. Furthermore, we observed a significant reversal interaction between chlorpyrifos and sediment for small-sized invertebrates collected in gravel (abundance in sediment x insecticide microcosms was 2.4 times lower than predicted by additivity), as well as an antagonistic interaction with nutrients on invertebrate richness in the same microhabitat (richness in nutrient x insecticide microcosms was 1.6 times higher than predicted by additivity). Our results suggest that chlorpyrifos has the potential to alter freshwater ecosystem function and interact non-additively with other common agricultural stressors. These findings are in keeping with a growing body of research highlighting that multiple stressor interactions and ecosystem processes should be considered when evaluating the impacts of organic toxicants on freshwater ecosystems.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-10-10T08:50:23.284327-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1637
  • Fuel-reduction management alters plant composition, carbon and nitrogen
           pools, and soil thaw in Alaskan boreal forest
    • Authors: April M. Melvin; Gerardo Celis, Jill F. Johnstone, A. David McGuire, Helene Genet, Edward A. G. Schuur, T. Scott Rupp, Michelle C. Mack
      Abstract: Increasing wildfire activity in Alaska's boreal forests has led to greater fuel-reduction management. Management has been implemented to reduce wildfire spread, but the ecological impacts of these practices are poorly known. We quantified the effects of hand-thinning and shearblading on above- and belowground stand characteristics, plant species composition, carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) pools, and soil thaw across 19 black spruce (Picea mariana) dominated sites in interior Alaska treated 2-12 years prior to sampling. The density of deciduous tree seedlings was significantly higher in shearbladed areas compared to unmanaged forest (6.4 vs. 0.1 stems m−2), and unmanaged stands exhibited the highest mean density of conifer seedlings and layers (1.4 stems m−2). Understory plant community composition was most similar between unmanaged and thinned stands. Shearblading resulted in a near complete loss of aboveground tree biomass C pools while thinning approximately halved the C pool size (1.2 kg C m−2 compared to 3.1 kg C m−2 in unmanaged forest). Significantly smaller soil organic layer (SOL) C and N pools were observed in shearbladed stands (3.2 kg C m−2 and 116.8 g N m−2) relative to thinned (6.0 kg C m−2 and 192.2 g N m−2) and unmanaged (5.9 kg C m−2 and 178.7 g N m−2) stands. No difference in C and N pool sizes in the uppermost 10 cm of mineral soil was observed among stand types. Total C stocks for measured pools was 2.6 kg C m−2 smaller in thinned stands and 5.8 kg C m−2 smaller in shearbladed stands when compared to unmanaged forest. Soil thaw depth averaged 13 cm deeper in thinned areas and 46 cm deeper in shearbladed areas relative to adjacent unmanaged stands, although variability was high across sites. Deeper soil thaw was linked to shallower SOL depth for unmanaged stands and both management types, however for any given SOL depth, thaw tended to be deeper in shearbladed areas compared to unmanaged forest. These findings indicate that fuel-reduction management alters plant community composition, C and N pools, and soil thaw depth, with consequences for ecosystem structure and function beyond those intended for fire management.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-10-07T10:35:39.955678-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1636
  • Invertebrate community response to coarse woody debris removal for
           bioenergy production from intensively managed forests
    • Authors: Steven M. Grodsky; Christopher E. Moorman, Sarah R. Fritts, Joshua W. Campbell, Clyde E. Sorenson, Matthew A. Bertone, Steven B. Castleberry, T. Bently Wigley
      Abstract: Increased market viability of harvest residues as forest bioenergy feedstock may escalate removal of coarse woody debris in managed forests. Meanwhile, many forest invertebrates use coarse woody debris for cover, food, and reproduction. Few studies have explicitly addressed effects of operational-scale woody biomass harvesting on invertebrates following clearcutting. Therefore, we measured invertebrate community response to large-scale harvest residue removal and micro-site manipulations of harvest residue availability in recently clearcut, intensively managed loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) forests in North Carolina (NC; n = 4) and Georgia (GA; n = 4), USA. We captured 39,794 surface-active invertebrates representing 171 taxonomic groups using pitfall traps situated among micro-site locations (i.e., purposefully retained piles of hardwood stems and piles of conifer stems and areas without coarse woody debris in NC; windrows and no windrows in GA). Micro-site locations were located within six, large-scale treatments (7.16 – 14.3 ha) in clearcuts. Large-scale treatments represented intensive harvest residue removal, 15% and 30% harvest residue retention, and no harvest residue removal. In NC, ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and crickets (Orthoptera: Gryllidae) were three times more abundant in treatments with no harvest residue removal than those with the most intensive harvest residue removal and were reduced in treatments that retained 15% or 30% of harvest residues, although not significantly. Invertebrate taxa richness was greater at micro-site locations with retained hardwood and pine (Pinus spp.) harvest residues than those with minimal amounts of coarse woody debris. In both states, relative abundances of several invertebrate taxa, including cave crickets (Orthoptera: Rhaphidophoridae), fungus gnats (Diptera: Mycetophilidae and Sciaridae), millipedes (Diplopoda), and wood roaches (Blattodea: Ectobiidae), were greater at micro-site locations with retained harvest residues than those with minimal coarse woody debris. Intensified woody biomass harvesting without retention of>15% of harvest residue volume may reduce invertebrate taxa richness and abundances of some key invertebrate taxa in regenerating stands. Further, harvest residue management during and after woody biomass harvesting may be an important consideration for maintaining invertebrate diversity and conserving invertebrates that are influential in the maintenance of ecosystem function and integrity in young forests.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-26T01:35:20.305342-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1634
  • Using species traits to predict detectability of animals on aerial surveys
    • Authors: S. Schlossberg; M. J. Chase, C. R. Griffin
      Abstract: In animal surveys, detectability can vary widely across species. We hypothesized that detectability of animals should be a function of species traits such as mass, color, and mean herd size. We also hypothesized that models of detectability based on species traits can be used to predict detectability for new species not in the original dataset, leading to substantial benefits for ecology and conservation. We tested these hypotheses with double-observer aerial surveys of 10 mammal species in northern Botswana. We combined all 10 species and modeled their detectability with species traits (mass, mean herd size, color) as predictors while controlling for observer effects, vegetation, and herd size. We found support for effects of mass and an interaction between herd size and mean herd size on detectability. This model accurately predicted the ratio of herds detected by two observers vs. one observer for 8 of 10 species. To test whether a model based on species traits could be applied to a new species, we serially deleted each species from the dataset, fit a trait-based model to the remaining nine species, and used this model to predict detectability for the deleted species. The model was able to reproduce the species-trait model for seven species and accurately predicted the ratio of detections by one or two observers for a different set of seven species; the model was successful by both measures for five species. To our knowledge, this represents the first time that a mechanistic model for detectability of animals has been used to predict detectability for new species. Prediction failed for species with extreme values of traits, suggesting that predicting detectability is not possible near or beyond the boundaries of one's dataset. The approach taken in this paper can potentially be used with a variety of taxa and may provide new opportunities to apply detectability corrections where they have not been possible before.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-25T03:28:03.163501-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1632
  • Scenarios reveal pathways to sustain future ecosystem services in an
           agricultural landscape
    • Authors: Jiangxiao Qiu; Stephen R. Carpenter, Eric G. Booth, Melissa Motew, Samuel C. Zipper, Christopher J. Kucharik, Xi Chen, Steven P. Loheide, Jenny Seifert, Monica G. Turner
      Abstract: Sustaining food production, water quality, soil retention, flood and climate regulation in agricultural landscapes is a pressing global challenge given accelerating environmental changes. Scenarios are stories about plausible futures, and scenarios can be integrated with biophysical simulation models to explore quantitatively how the future might unfold. However, few studies have incorporated a wide range of drivers (e.g., climate, land-use, management, population, human diet) in spatially explicit, process-based models to investigate spatial-temporal dynamics and relationships of a portfolio of ecosystem services. Here, we simulated nine ecosystem services (three provisioning and six regulating services) at 220-m×220-m from 2010 to 2070 under four contrasting scenarios in the 1345-km2 Yahara Watershed (Wisconsin, USA) using Agro-IBIS, a dynamic model of terrestrial ecosystem processes, biogeochemistry, water and energy balance. We asked: (1) How does ecosystem service supply vary among alternative future scenarios' (2) Where on the landscape is the provision of ecosystem services most susceptible to future social-ecological changes' (3) Among alternative future scenarios, are relationships (i.e., tradeoffs, synergies) among food production, water and biogeochemical services consistent over time' Our results showed that food production varied substantially with future land-use choices and management, and its tradeoffs with water quality and soil retention persisted under most scenarios. However, pathways to mitigate or even reverse such tradeoffs through technological advances and sustainable agricultural practices were apparent. Consistent relationships among regulating services were identified across scenarios (e.g., tradeoffs of freshwater supply vs. flood and climate regulation, and synergies among water quality, soil retention and climate regulation), suggesting opportunities and challenges to sustaining these services. In particular, proactive land-use changes and management may buffer water quality against undesirable future climate changes, but changing climate may overwhelm management efforts to sustain freshwater supply and flood regulation. Spatially, changes in ecosystem services were heterogeneous across the landscape, underscoring the power of local actions and fine-scale management. Our research highlights the value of embracing spatial and temporal perspectives in managing ecosystem services and their complex interactions, and provides a system-level understanding for achieving sustainability of the food-water-climate nexus in agricultural landscapes.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-25T03:27:38.086912-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1633
  • Last-century forest productivity in a managed dry-edge Scots pine
           population: the two sides of climate warming
    • Authors: Laura Marqués; Jaime Madrigal-González, Miguel A. Zavala, J. Julio Camarero, Florian Hartig
      Abstract: Climate change in the Mediterranean, associated with warmer temperatures and more frequent droughts, is expected to impact forest productivity and the functioning of forests ecosystems as carbon reservoirs in the region. Climate warming can positively affect forest growth by extending the growing season, whereas increasing summer drought generally reduces forest productivity and may cause growth decline, trigger dieback, hamper regeneration and increase mortality. Forest management could potentially counteract such negative effects by reducing stand density and thereby competition for water. The effectiveness of such interventions, however, has so far mostly been evaluated for short time periods at the tree and stand levels, which limits our confidence regarding the efficacy of thinning interventions over longer time scales under the complex interplay between climate, stand structure and forest management. In this study, we use a century-long historical dataset to assess the effects of climate and management on forest productivity and regeneration. We consider rear-edge Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) populations covering continental and Mediterranean conditions along an altitudinal gradient in Central Spain. We use linear mixed-effects models to disentangle the effects of altitude, climate, and stand volume on forest growth and ingrowth (recruitment and young trees'growth). We find that warming tends to benefit these tree populations - warmer winter temperature has a significant positive effect on both forest growth and ingrowth - and the effect is more pronounced at low elevations. However, drought conditions severely reduce growth and ingrowth, in particular when competition (stand volume) is high. We conclude that summer droughts are the main threat to Scots pine populations in the region, and that a reduction of stand volume can partially mitigate the negative impacts of more arid conditions. Mitigation and adaptation measures could therefore manage stand structure to adopt for the anticipated impacts of climate change in Mediterranean forest ecosystems.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-25T03:21:07.525968-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1631
  • Cultivar mixtures: A meta-analysis of the effect of intraspecific
           diversity on crop yield
    • Authors: Emily R. Reiss; Laurie E. Drinkwater
      Abstract: Extensive research has shown that greater plant community diversity leads to higher levels of productivity and other ecosystem services, and such increased diversity has been suggested as a way to improve yield and agricultural sustainability. Increasing intraspecific diversity with cultivar mixtures is one way to increase diversity in agricultural systems. We examined the relationship between intraspecific diversity and yield in cultivar mixtures using a meta-analysis of 91 studies and>3600 observations. Additionally, we investigated how environmental and management factors might influence this relationship, and if the yield stability of cultivar mixtures differed from that of monocultures. We found that the yield increased by 2.2% overall in cultivar mixtures relative to their monoculture components. Mixtures with more cultivars and those with more functional trait diversity showed higher relative yields. Under biotic stressors, such as disease pressure, and abiotic stressors, such as low levels of soil organic matter and nutrient availability, this diversity effect was stronger, resulting in higher relative yields. Finally, cultivar mixtures generally showed higher yield stability compared to monocultures, especially in response to annual weather variability at a site over time. This practice of mixing cultivars can be integrated into intensified cropping systems where species monocultures dominate, as well as in smallholder cropping systems where low-cost improvements are in demand. Overall, these results suggest that cultivar mixtures are a viable strategy to increase diversity in agroecosystems, promoting increased yield and yield stability, with minimal environmental impact.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-22T08:30:39.039994-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1629
  • Template for using biological trait groupings when exploring large-scale
           variation in seafloor multifunctionality
    • Authors: Anna Villnäs; Judi Hewitt, Martin Snickars, Mats Westerbom, Alf Norkko
      Abstract: Understanding large-scale spatial variation in ecosystem properties and associated functionality is key for successful conservation of ecosystems. This study provides a template for how to estimate differences in ecosystem functionality over large spatial scales by using groupings of biological traits. We focus on trait groupings that describe three important benthic ecosystem properties, namely bioturbation, community stability and juvenile dispersal. Recognizing that groups of traits interact and are constrained within an organism, we statistically define important functional trait subgroups that describe each ecosystem property. The sub-groups are scored according to their weighted ecological impact to gain an overall estimation of the cumulative expression of each ecosystem property at individual sites. Furthermore, by assigning each property a value relative to its observed maximum, and by summing up the individual property values, we offer an estimate of benthic ecosystem multifunctionality. Based on a spatially extensive benthic data set, we were able to identify coastal areas with high and low potential for the considered benthic ecosystem properties and the measure of ecosystem multifunctionality. Importantly, we show that a large part of the spatial variation in functional trait sub-groups and in benthic ecosystem multifunctionality was explained by environmental change. Our results indicate that through this simplification it is possible to estimate the functionality of the seafloor. Such information is vital in marine spatial planning efforts striving to balance the utilization with the preservation of natural resources.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-22T08:30:34.192724-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1630
  • Purpose, Processes, Partnerships, and Products: 4Ps to advance
           Participatory Socio-Environmental Modeling
    • Authors: Steven Gray; Alexey Voinov, Michael Paolisso, Rebecca Jordan, Todd BenDor, Pierre Bommel, Pierre Glynn, Beatrice Hedelin, Klaus Hubacek, Josh Introne, Nagesh Kolagani, Bethany Laursen, Christina Prell, Laura Schmitt-Olabisi, Alison Singer, Eleanor Sterling, Moira Zellner
      Abstract: Including stakeholders in environmental model building and analysis is an increasingly popular approach to understanding ecological change. This is because stakeholders often hold valuable knowledge about socio-environmental dynamics and collaborative forms of modeling produce important boundary objects used to collectively reason about environmental problems. Although the number of participatory modeling (PM) case studies and the number of researchers adopting these approaches has grown in recent years, the lack of standardized reporting and limited reproducibility have prevented PM's establishment and advancement as a cohesive field of study. We suggest a four-dimensional framework (4P) that includes reporting on dimensions of: (1) the Purpose for selecting a PM approach (the why); (2) the Process by which the public was involved in model building or evaluation (the how); (3) the Partnerships formed (the who); and (4) the Products that resulted from these efforts (the what). We highlight four case studies that use common PM software-based approaches (fuzzy cognitive mapping, agent-based modeling, system dynamics, and participatory geospatial modeling) to understand human-environment interactions and the consequences of ecological changes, including bushmeat hunting in Tanzania and Cameroon, agricultural production and deforestation in Zambia, and groundwater management in India. We demonstrate how standardizing communication about PM case studies can lead to innovation and new insights about model-based reasoning in support of ecological policy development. We suggest that our 4P framework and reporting approach provides a way for new hypotheses to be identified and tested in the growing field of PM.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-18T11:05:20.454154-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1627
  • Climatic and anthropogenic drivers of northern Amazon fires during the
           2015/2016 El Niño event
    • Authors: Marisa G. Fonseca; Liana O. Anderson, Egidio Arai, Yosio E. Shimabukuro, Haron A. M. Xaud, Maristela R. Xaud, Nima Madani, Fabien H. Wagner, Luiz E. O. C. Aragão
      Abstract: The strong El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event that occurred in 2015/2016 caused extreme drought in the northern Brazilian Amazon, especially in the state of Roraima, increasing fire occurrence. Here we map the extent of precipitation and fire anomalies and quantify the effects of climatic and anthropogenic drivers on fire occurrence during the 2015/2016 dry season (from December 2015 to March 2016) in the state of Roraima. To achieve these objectives we first estimated the spatial pattern of precipitation anomalies, based on long-term data from the TRMM (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission), and the fire anomaly, based on MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) active fire detections during the referred period. Then, we integrated climatic and anthropogenic drivers in a Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) model to quantify fire probability, assessing (i) the model accuracy during the 2015/2016 and the 2016/2017 dry seasons; (ii) the relative importance of each predictor variable on the model predictive performance; and (iii) the response curves, showing how each environmental variable affects the fire probability. Approximately 59% (132,900 km2) of the study area was exposed to precipitation anomalies ≤ -1 standard deviation (SD) in January and ~48% (~106,800 km2) in March. About 38% (86,200 km2) of the study area experienced fire anomalies ≥ 1 SD in at least one month between December 2015 and March 2016. The distance to roads and the direct ENSO effect on fire occurrence were the two most influential variables on model predictive performance. Despite the improvement of governmental actions of fire prevention and firefighting in Roraima since the last intense ENSO event (1997/1998), we show that fire still gets out of control in the state during extreme drought events. Our results indicate that if no prevention actions are undertaken, future road-network expansion and a climate-induced increase in water stress will amplify fire occurrence in the northern Amazon, even in its humid dense forests. As an additional outcome of our analysis, we conclude that the model and the data we used may help to guide on-the-ground fire-prevention actions and firefighting planning and therefore minimize fire-related ecosystems degradation, economic losses and carbon emissions in Roraima.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-18T09:45:29.744833-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1628
  • Assessing fire impacts on the carbon stability of fire-tolerant forests
    • Authors: Lauren T. Bennett; Matthew J. Bruce, Josephine Machunter, Michele Kohout, Saravanan Jangammanaidu Krishnaraj, Cristina Aponte
      Abstract: The carbon stability of fire-tolerant forests is often assumed but less frequently assessed, limiting potential to anticipate threats to forest carbon posed by predicted increases in forest fire activity. Assessing the carbon stability of fire-tolerant forests requires multi-indicator approaches that recognise the myriad of ways that fires influence the carbon balance including combustion, deposition of pyrogenic material, and tree death, post-fire decomposition, recruitment, and growth. Five years after a large-scale wildfire in south-eastern Australia, we assessed the impacts of low- and high-severity wildfire, with and without prescribed fire (≤ 10 years before), on carbon stocks in multiple pools, and on carbon stability indicators (carbon stock percentages in live trees and in small trees, and carbon stocks in char and fuels) in fire-tolerant eucalypt forests. Relative to unburnt forest, high-severity wildfire decreased short-term (five-year) carbon stability by significantly decreasing live tree carbon stocks and percentage stocks in live standing trees (reflecting elevated tree mortality), by increasing the percentage of live tree carbon in small trees (those vulnerable to the next fire), and by potentially increasing the probability of another fire through increased elevated fine fuel loads. In contrast, low-severity wildfire enhanced carbon stability by having negligible effects on above-ground stocks and indicators, and by significantly increasing carbon stocks in char and, in particular, soils, indicating pyrogenic carbon accumulation. Overall, recent preceding prescribed fire did not markedly influence wildfire effects on short-term carbon stability at stand scales. Despite wide confidence intervals around mean stock differences – indicating uncertainty about the magnitude of fire effects in these natural forests – our assessment highlights the need for active management of carbon assets in fire-tolerant eucalypt forests under contemporary fire regimes. Decreased live tree carbon and increased reliance on younger cohorts for carbon recovery after high-severity wildfire, could increase vulnerabilities to imminent fires, leading to decisions about interventions to maintain the productivity of some stands. Our multi-indicator assessment also highlights the importance of considering all carbon pools, particularly pyrogenic reservoirs like soils, when evaluating the potential for prescribed fire regimes to mitigate the carbon costs of wildfires in fire-prone landscapes.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-16T15:26:54.613065-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1626
  • Long-term agricultural management does not alter the evolution of a
           soybean-rhizobium mutualism
    • Authors: Jennifer E. Schmidt; Dylan J. Weese, Jennifer A. Lau
      Abstract: Leguminous crops, like soybeans, often rely on biologically fixed nitrogen via their symbiosis with rhizobia rather than synthetic nitrogen inputs. However, agricultural management practices may influence the effectiveness of biological nitrogen fixation. While the ecological effects of agricultural management on rhizobia have received some attention, the evolutionary effects have been neglected in comparison. Resource mutualism theory predicts that evolutionary effects are likely, however. Both fertilization and tillage are predicted to cause the evolution of rhizobia that provide fewer growth benefits to plant hosts and fix less nitrogen. This study capitalized on an LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) experiment that manipulated agricultural management practices in a corn-soybean-wheat row crop system for 24 years to investigate whether four different management practices (conventional, no-till, low chemical input, and certified organic) cause rhizobia populations to evolve to become more or less cooperative. We found little evidence that 24 years of varying management practices affect the net growth benefits rhizobia provide to soybeans, although soybean plants inoculated with soils collected from conventional treatments tended to have lower biological nitrogen fixation rates than plants inoculated with soils from the no-till, low input, and organic management treatments. These findings suggest that rhizobia will continue to provide adequate growth benefits to leguminous crops in the future, even in intensively managed systems.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-16T15:26:52.238942-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1625
  • Survey design for precise fire management conservation targets
    • Authors: Holly Sitters; Julian Di Stefano, Timothy Wills, Matthew Swan, Alan York
      Abstract: Common goals of ecological fire management are to sustain biodiversity and minimize extinction risk. A novel approach to achieving these goals determines the relative proportions of vegetation growth stages (equivalent to successional stages, which are categorical representations of time since fire) that maximize a biodiversity index. The method combines data describing species abundances in each growth stage with numerical optimization to define an optimal growth-stage structure which provides a conservation-based operational target for managers. However, conservation targets derived from growth-stage optimization are likely to depend critically on choices regarding input data. There is growing interest in use of growth-stage optimization as a basis for fire management, thus understanding of how input data influence the outputs is crucial. Simulated datasets provide a flexible platform for systematically varying aspects of survey design and species inclusions. We used artificial data with known properties, and a case-study dataset from southeastern Australia, to examine the influence of (i) survey design (total number of sites, and their distribution among growth stages) and (ii) species inclusions (total number of species and their level of specialization) on the precision of conservation targets. Based on our findings, we recommend that survey designs for precise estimates would ideally involve at least 80 sites, and include at least 80 species. Greater numbers of sites and species will yield increasingly reliable results, but fewer might be sufficient in some circumstances. An even distribution of sites among growth stages was less important than the total number of sites, and omission of species is unlikely to have a major influence on results as long as several species specialize on each growth stage. We highlight the importance of examining the responses of individual species to growth stage before feeding survey data into the growth-stage optimization black box, and advocate use of a resampling procedure to determine the precision of results. Collectively, our findings form a reproducible guide to designing ecological surveys that yield precise conservation targets through growth-stage optimization, and ultimately help sustain biodiversity in fire-prone systems.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-12T20:05:46.269902-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1624
  • Long-term trends in trait structure of riverine communities facing
           predation risk increase and trophic resource decline
    • Authors: Adrien Latli; Jean-Pierre Descy, Cédric P Mondy, Mathieu Floury, Laurent Viroux, William Otjacques, Jonathan Marescaux, Eric Depiereux, Michael Ovidio, Philippe Usseglio-Polatera, Patrick Kestemont
      Abstract: Many large European rivers have undergone multiple pressures which have strongly impaired ecosystem functioning at different spatial and temporal scales. Global warming and other environmental changes have favoured the success of invasive species, deeply modifying the structure of aquatic communities in large rivers. Some exogenous species could alter trophic interactions within assemblages by increasing the predation risk for potential prey species (top-down effect) and limiting the dynamics of others via resource availability limitation (bottom-up effect). Furthermore, large transboundary rivers are complex aquatic ecosystems which have often been poorly investigated so that data for assessing long-term ecological trends are missing. In this study, we propose an original approach for investigating long-term combined effects of global warming, trophic resource decrease, predation risk and water quality variations on the trait-based structure of macroinvertebrate and fish assemblages over 26 years (1985-2011) and 427-km stretch of the river Meuse (France and Belgium). The study of temporal variations in biological, physiological and ecological traits of macroinvertebrate and fish allowed identifying community trends and distinguishing impacts of environmental perturbations from those induced by biological alterations. We provide evidence, for this large European river, of an increase in water temperature (close to 1°C) and a decrease in phytoplankton biomass (- 85%), as well as independent effects of these changes on both invertebrate and fish communities. The reduction of trophic resources in the water column by invasive molluscs has dramatically affected the density of omnivorous fish in favour of invertebrate-feeders, while scrapers became the major feeding guild among invertebrates. Macroinvertebrate and fish communities have shifted from large-sized organisms with low fecundity to prolific, small-sized organisms, with early maturity, as a response to increased predation pressure.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-05T10:45:51.32343-05:0
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1621
  • Impacts of different land management histories on forest change
    • Authors: Brandon M. Collins; Danny L. Fry, Jamie M. Lydersen, Richard Everett, Scott L. Stephens
      Abstract: Many western North American forest types have experienced considerable changes in ecosystem structure, composition, and function as a result of both fire exclusion and timber harvesting. These two influences co-occurred over a large portion of dry forests making it difficult to know the strength of either one on its own or the potential for an interaction between the two. In this study we used contemporary re-measurements of a systematic historical forest inventory to investigate forest change in the Sierra Nevada. The historical data opportunistically spanned a significant land management agency boundary, which protected part of the inventory area from timber harvesting. This allowed for a robust comparison of forest change between logged and unlogged areas. In addition, we assessed the effects of recent management activities aimed at forest restoration relative to the same areas historically, and to other areas without recent management. Based on analyses of 22,007 trees (historical: 9573; contemporary: 12,434) live basal area and tree density significantly increased from 1911 to present in both logged and unlogged areas. Both shrub cover and the proportion of live basal area occupied by pine species declined from 1911 to present in both areas, but statistical significance was inconsistent. The most notable difference between logged and unlogged areas was in the density of large trees, which declined significantly in logged areas, but was unchanged in unlogged areas. Recent management activities had a varied impact on the forest structure and composition variables analyzed. In general, areas with no recent management activities experienced the greatest change from 1911 to present. If approximating historical forest conditions is a land management goal the documented changes in forest structure and composition from 1911 to present indicate that active restoration, including fire use and mechanical thinning, is needed in many areas.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-05T10:45:36.505617-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1622
  • Urbanization reduces and homogenizes trait diversity in stream
           macroinvertebrate communities
    • Authors: Thomas R. Barnum; Donald E. Weller, Meghan Williams
      Abstract: More than half the world's population lives in urban areas, so quantifying the effects of urbanization on ecological communities is important for understanding whether anthropogenic stressors homogenize communities across environmental and climatic gradients. We examined the relationship of impervious surface coverage (a marker of urbanization) and the structure of stream macroinvertebrate communities across the state of Maryland and within each of Maryland's three ecoregions: Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and Appalachian, which differ in stream geomorphology and community composition. We considered three levels of trait organization: individual traits, unique combinations of traits, and community metrics (functional richness, functional evenness, and functional divergence) and three levels of impervious surface coverage (low (10%). The prevalence of an individual trait modality differed very little between low impervious surface and high impervious surface sites. The arrangement of trait combinations in community trait space for each ecoregion differed when impervious surface coverage was low, but the arrangement became more similar among ecoregions as impervious surface coverage increased. Furthermore, trait combinations that occurred only at low or medium impervious surface coverage were clustered in a subset of the community trait space, indicating impervious surface affected the presence of only a subset of trait combinations. Functional richness declined with increasing impervious surface, providing evidence for environmental filtering. Community metrics that include abundance were also sensitive to increasing impervious surface coverage–functional divergence decreased while functional evenness increased. These changes demonstrate that increasing impervious surface coverage homogenizes the trait diversity of macroinvertebrate communities in streams, despite differences in initial community composition and stream geomorphology among ecoregions. Community metrics were also more sensitive to changes in the abundance rather than the gain or loss of trait combinations, showing the potential for trait-based approaches to serve as early warning indicators of environmental stress for monitoring and biological assessment programs.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-05T02:05:45.420872-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1619
  • Rangifer management controls a climate-sensitive tundra state transition
    • Authors: Kari Anne Bråthen; Virve Tuulia Ravolainen, Audun Stien, Torkild Tveraa, Rolf A. Ims
      Abstract: Rangifer (caribou/reindeer) management has been suggested to mitigate the temperature-driven transition of arctic tundra into a shrubland state, yet how is uncertain. Here we study this much focused ecosystem state transition in riparian areas, where palatable willows (Salix) are dominant tall shrubs and highly responsive to climate change. For the state transition to take place, small life stages must become tall and abundant. Therefore we predicted that the performance of small life stages (potential recruits) of the tall shrubs were instrumental to the focal transition, where Rangifer managed at high population density would keep the small-stage shrubs in a “browse trap” independent of summer temperature. We used a large-scale quasi-experimental study design that included real management units that spanned a wide range of Rangifer population densities and summer temperatures in order to assess the relative importance of these two driving variables. Ground-surveys provided data on density and height of the small shrub life stages, while the distributional limit (shrubline) of established shrublands (the tall shrub life stage) was derived from aerial photographs. Where Rangifer densities were above a threshold of approximately 5 animals km−2 we found, in accordance with the expectation of a “browse trap”, that the small life stages of shrubs in grasslands were at low height and low abundance. At Rangifer densities below this threshold the small life stages of shrubs were taller and more abundant indicating Rangifer were no longer in control of the grassland state. For the established shrubland state, we found that the shrubline was at a 100 m lower elevation in the management units where Rangifer have been browsing in summer as opposed to the migratory ranges with no browsing in summer. In both seasonal ranges the shrubline increased 100 m per 1°C increment in temperature. Our study supports the proposal that Rangifer management within a sustainable range of animal densities can mitigate the much-focused transition from grassland to shrubland in a warming arctic.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-04T19:01:45.826503-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1618
  • Predictive Mapping of the Biotic Condition of Conterminous-USA Rivers and
    • Authors: Ryan A. Hill; Eric W. Fox, Scott G. Leibowitz, Anthony R. Olsen, Darren J. Thornbrugh, Marc H. Weber
      Abstract: Understanding and mapping the spatial variation in stream biological condition could provide an important tool for conservation, assessment, and restoration of stream ecosystems. The USEPA's 2008-2009 National Rivers and Streams Assessment (NRSA) summarizes the percent of stream lengths within the conterminous US that are in good, fair, or poor biological condition based on a multimetric index of benthic invertebrate assemblages. However, condition is usually summarized at regional or national scales, and these assessments do not provide substantial insight into the spatial distribution of conditions at unsampled locations. We used random forests to model and predict the probable condition of several million kilometers of streams across the conterminous US based on nearby and upstream landscape features, including human-related alterations to watersheds. To do so, we linked NRSA sample sites to the USEPA's StreamCat Dataset; a database of several hundred landscape metrics for all 1:100,000-scale streams and their associated watersheds within the conterminous US. The StreamCat data provided geospatial indicators of nearby and upstream land use, land cover, climate, and other landscape features for modeling. Nationally, the model correctly predicted the biological condition class of 75% of NRSA sites. Although model evaluations suggested good discrimination among condition classes, we present maps as predicted probabilities of good condition, given upstream and nearby landscape settings. Inversely, the maps can be interpreted as the probability of a stream being in poor condition, given human-related watershed alterations. These predictions are available for download from the USEPA's StreamCat website (https://w w w .epa. gov/national-aquatic-resource-surveys/streamcat). Finally, we illustrate how these predictions could be used to prioritize streams for conservation or restoration.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-04T19:01:37.964027-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1617
  • What mediates tree mortality during drought in the southern Sierra
    • Authors: Tarin Paz-Kagan; Philip G. Brodrick, Nicholas R. Vaughn, Adrian J. Das, Nathan L. Stephenson, Koren R. Nydick, Gregory P. Asner
      Abstract: Severe drought has the potential to cause selective mortality within a forest, thereby inducing shifts in forest species composition. The southern Sierra Nevada foothills and mountains of California have experienced extensive forest dieback due to drought stress and insect outbreak. We used high-fidelity imaging spectroscopy (HiFIS) and light detection and ranging (LiDAR) from the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) to estimate the effect of forest dieback on species composition in response to drought stress in Sequoia National Park. Our aims were: (1) to quantify site-specific conditions that mediate tree mortality along an elevation gradient in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains; (2) to assess where mortality events have a greater probability of occurring; and (3) to estimate which tree species have a greater likelihood of mortality along the elevation gradient. A series of statistical models were generated to classify species composition and identify tree mortality, and the influences of different environmental factors were spatially quantified and analyzed to assess where mortality events have a greater likelihood of occurring. A higher probability of mortality was observed in the lower portion of the elevation gradient, on southwest and west-facing slopes, in areas with shallow soils, on shallower slopes, and at greater distances from water. All of these factors are related to site water balance throughout the landscape. Our results also suggest that mortality is species-specific along the elevation gradient, mainly affecting Pinus ponderosa and Pinus lambertiana at lower elevations. Selective mortality within the forest may drive long-term shifts in community composition along the elevation gradient.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-09-04T19:01:24.864093-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1620
  • Effects of a large wildfire on vegetation structure in a variable fire
    • Authors: C.N Foster; P.S Barton, N.M Robinson, C.I MacGregor, D.B Lindenmayer
      Abstract: Management guidelines for many fire-prone ecosystems highlight the importance of maintaining a variable mosaic of fire histories for biodiversity conservation. Managers are encouraged to aim for fire mosaics that are temporally and spatially dynamic, include all successional states of vegetation, and also include variation in the underlying “invisible mosaic” of past fire frequencies, severities and fire return intervals. However, establishing and maintaining variable mosaics in contemporary landscapes is subject to many challenges, one of which is deciding how the fire mosaic should be managed following the occurrence of large, unplanned wildfires. A key consideration for this decision is the extent to which the effects of previous fire history on vegetation and habitats persist after major wildfires, but this topic has rarely been investigated empirically.In this study we tested to what extent a large wildfire interacted with previous fire history to affect the structure of forest, woodland and heath vegetation in Booderee National Park in south-eastern Australia. In 2003, a summer wildfire burnt 49.5% of the park, increasing the extent of recently burnt vegetation (< 10 years post-fire) to more than 72% of the park area. We tracked the recovery of vegetation structure for nine years following the wildfire and found that the strength and persistence of fire effects differed substantially between vegetation types. Vegetation structure was modified by wildfire in forest, woodland and heath vegetation, but among-site variability in vegetation structure was reduced only by severe fire in woodland vegetation. There also were persistent legacy effects of the previous fire regime on some attributes of vegetation structure including forest ground and understorey cover, and woodland midstorey and overstorey cover. For example, woodland midstorey cover was greater on sites with higher fire frequency, irrespective of the severity of the 2003 wildfire. Our results show that even after a large, severe wildfire, underlying fire histories can contribute substantially to variation in vegetation structure. This highlights the importance of ensuring that efforts to reinstate variation in vegetation fire age after large wildfires do not inadvertently reduce variation in vegetation structure generated by the underlying invisible mosaic.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-08-29T08:10:20.907315-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1614
  • Modelling the effects of spatial heterogeneity and temporal variation in
           extinction probability on mosquito populations
    • Authors: Yehonatn Alcalay; Ido Tsurim, Ofer Ovadia
      Abstract: Spatial synchrony plays an important role in dictating the dynamics of spatial and stage-structured populations. Here we argue that, unlike Moran effect where spatial synchrony is driven by exogenous factors, spatial correlation in intrinsic/local scale processes, can affect the level of spatial synchrony among distinct sub-populations, and therefore the persistence of the entire population. To explore this mechanism, we modelled the consequences of spatial heterogeneity in aquatic habitat quality, and that of temporal variation in local extinction probability, on the persistence of stage-structured mosquito populations. As a model system, we used two widely distributed mosquito species, Aedes albopictus and Culex pipiens, both key vectors of a range of infectious diseases. Spatial heterogeneity in aquatic habitat quality led to increased population persistence, and this pattern was more pronounced at intermediate dispersal rates, and in the long-dispersing species (C. pipiens). The highest regional persistence was obtained at high dispersal rates. This is probably because dispersal, in our model, did not carry any additional costs. Population persistence of both species was negatively correlated with increased temporal variation in local extinction probability. These differences were stronger in the short-dispersing species (A. albopictus), especially at intermediate dispersal rates. The dispersal of A. albopictus adults in each time step was limited to the nearest habitat patches, weakening the positive effect of spatial heterogeneity in aquatic habitat quality on population persistence. In contrary, C. pipiens adults could disperse into more remote sub-populations, resulting in much higher recolonization rates. Hence, the negative effect of temporal variation in local extinction probability on patch occupancy disappeared at intermediate dispersal rates. We suggest that effectively controlling these two mosquito species requires making few spatially synchronized control efforts (i.e., generating high temporal variation in local extinction probability), rather than many asynchronized local control efforts. Finally, our model can be easily fitted to other organisms characterized by complex life cycles, and it can be also used to examine alternative scenarios, including the effect of spatial configuration of local habitat patches and dispersal kernel shape on population persistence.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-08-29T03:00:39.255013-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1612
  • Strong indirect herbicide effects on mycorrhizal associations through
           plant community shifts and secondary invasions
    • Authors: Y Lekberg; Viktoria Wagner, Alexii Rummel, Morgan McLeod, Philip W. Ramsey
      Abstract: Million of acres of US wildlands are sprayed with herbicides to control invasive species, but relatively little is known about non-target effects of herbicide use. We combined greenhouse, field and laboratory experiments involving the invasive forb spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe) and native bunchgrasses to assess direct and indirect effects of the forb-specific herbicide picloram on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), which are beneficial soil fungi that colonize most plants.Picloram had no effect on bunchgrass viability and their associated AMF in the greenhouse, but killed spotted knapweed and reduced AM colonization of a subsequent host grown. Results were similar in the field where AMF abundance in bunchgrass-dominated plots was unaffected by herbicides one year after spraying based on 16:1ω5 phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) and neutral lipid fatty acid (NLFA) concentrations. In spotted knapweed-dominated plots, however, picloram application shifted dominance from spotted knapweed, a good AMF host, to bulbous bluegrass (Poa bulbosa), a poor AMF host. This coincided with a 63% reduction in soil 16:1ω5 NLFA concentrations but no reduction of 16:1ω5 PLFA. Because 16:1ω5 NLFA quantifies AMF storage lipids and 16:1ω5 PLFA occurs in AMF membrane lipids, we speculate that the herbicide-mediated reduction in host quality reduced fungal carbon storage, but not necessarily fungal abundance after one year in the field. Overall, in greenhouse and field experiments, AMF were only affected when picloram altered host quantity and quality. This apparent lack of direct effect was supported by our in-vitro trial where picloram applied to AMF mycelia did not reduce fungal biomass and viability.We show that the herbicide picloram can have profound, indirect effects on AMF within a year. Depending on herbicide-mediated shifts in host quality, rapid interventions may be necessary post herbicide applications to prevent loss of AMF abundance. Future research should assess consequences of these potential shifts for the restoration of native plants that differ in mycorrhizal dependency.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-08-29T03:00:28.923055-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1613
  • Fit to predict' Ecoinformatics for predicting the catchability of a
           pelagic fish in near real-time
    • Authors: Kylie L. Scales; Elliott L. Hazen, Sara M. Maxwell, Heidi Dewar, Suzanne Kohin, Michael G. Jacox, Christopher A. Edwards, Dana K. Briscoe, Larry B. Crowder, Rebecca L. Lewison, Steven J. Bograd
      Abstract: The ocean is a dynamic environment inhabited by a diverse array of highly migratory species, many of which are under direct exploitation in targeted fisheries. The timescales of variability in the marine realm coupled with the extreme mobility of ocean-wandering species such as tuna and billfish complicates fisheries management. Developing ecoinformatics solutions that allow for near real-time prediction of the distributions of highly mobile marine species is an important step towards the maturation of dynamic ocean management and ecological forecasting.Using 25 years (1990-2014) of NOAA fisheries’ observer data from the California drift gillnet fishery, we model relative probability of occurrence (presence-absence) and catchability (total catch) of broadbill swordfish Xiphias gladius in the California Current System (CCS). Using freely-available environmental datasets and open source software, we explore the physical drivers of regional swordfish distribution. Comparing models built upon remotely-sensed datasets with those built upon a data-assimilative configuration of the Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS), we explore trade-offs in model construction and address how physical data can affect predictive performance and operational capacity.Swordfish catchability was found to be highest in deeper waters (>1500m) with surface temperatures in the 14-20°C range, isothermal layer depth (ILD) of 20-40m, positive sea surface height anomalies and during the new moon (
      PubDate: 2017-08-21T09:21:03.981438-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1610
  • Mammal diversity and metacommunity dynamics in urban green spaces:
           implications for urban wildlife conservation
    • Authors: Travis Gallo; Mason Fidino, Elizabeth W. Lehrer, Seth B. Magle
      Abstract: As urban growth expands and natural environments fragment, it is essential to understand the ecological roles fulfilled by urban green spaces. To evaluate how urban green spaces function as wildlife habitat, we estimated mammal diversity and metacommunity dynamics in city parks, cemeteries, golf courses, and natural areas throughout the greater Chicago, IL, USA region. We found similar α-diversity (with the exception of city parks), but remarkably dissimilar communities in different urban green spaces. Additionally, the type of urban green space greatly influenced species colonization and persistence rates. For example, coyotes (Canis latrans) had the highest, but white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) the lowest, probability of persistence in golf courses compared to other green space types. Further, most species had a difficult time colonizing city parks even when sites were seemingly available. Our results indicate that urban green spaces contribute different, but collectively important, habitats for maintaining and conserving biodiversity in cities.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-08-21T09:20:21.852745-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1611
  • Subcatchment deltas and upland features influence multiscale aquatic
           ecosystem recovery in damaged landscapes
    • Authors: Brian W. Kielstra; Shelley E. Arnott, John M. Gunn
      Abstract: Assessing biological recovery in damaged aquatic environments requires the consideration of multiple spatial and temporal scales. Past research has focused on assessing lake recovery from atmospheric or catchment disturbance at regional or catchment levels. Studies have also rarely considered the influences of adjacent terrestrial characteristics on within-lake habitats, such as subcatchment delta confluences. We used Hyalella azteca, a ubiquitous freshwater amphipod, as a sensitive indicator to assess the importance of local subcatchment scale factors in the context of multiscale lake recovery within the metal mining region of Sudbury, Canada following a period of major reductions in atmospheric pollution. At the regional scale, data from repeated surveys of 40 lakes showed higher probabilities of H. azteca occurrence with higher lake water conductivity, alkalinity, and pH and lower metal concentrations. The importance of metals decreased through time and the importance of higher conductivity, alkalinity, and pH increased. At the subcatchment scale, a subset of six lakes sampled across a colonization gradient revealed higher H. azteca abundances at subcatchment delta sites than non-delta sites in early colonization stages, and that abundance at delta sites was correlated with both within-lake habitat and terrestrial subcatchment characteristics. For example, wetland cover reduced the strength of positive associations between H. azteca abundance and macrophyte density. A single lake from this subset also revealed higher abundances at delta sites associated with higher concentrations of terrestrial organic matter and larger subcatchments. Our results demonstrate that factors affecting recovery can change with the scale of study, and that managing terrestrial-aquatic linkages is important for facilitating recovery processes within damaged lake ecosystems.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-08-07T07:15:20.831655-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1609
  • State-dependent behavior alters endocrine-energy relationship:
           implications for conservation and management
    • Authors: Brett R. Jesmer; Jacob R. Goheen, Kevin L. Monteith, Matthew J. Kauffman
      Abstract: Glucocorticoids (GC) and triiodothyronine (T3) are two endocrine markers commonly used to quantify resource limitation, yet the relationships between these markers and the energetic state of animals has been studied primarily in small-bodied species in captivity. Free-ranging animals, however, adjust energy intake in accordance with their energy reserves, a behavior known as state-dependent foraging. Further, links between life-history strategies and metabolic allometries cause energy intake and energy reserves to be more strongly coupled in small animals relative to large animals. Because GC and T3 may reflect energy intake or energy reserves, state-dependent foraging and body size may cause endocrine-energy relationships to vary among taxa and environments. To extend the utility of endocrine markers to large-bodied, free-ranging animals, we evaluated how state-dependent foraging, energy reserves, and energy intake influenced fecal GC and fecal T3 concentrations in free-ranging moose (Alces alces). Compared with individuals possessing abundant energy reserves, individuals with few energy reserves had higher energy intake and high fecal T3 concentrations, thereby supporting state-dependent foraging. Although fecal GC did not vary strongly with energy reserves, individuals with higher fecal GC tended to have fewer energy reserves and substantially greater energy intake than those with low fecal GC. Consequently, individuals with greater energy intake had both high fecal T3 and high fecal GC concentrations, a pattern inconsistent with previous documentation from captive animal studies. We posit that a positive relationship between GC and T3 may be expected in animals exhibiting state-dependent foraging if GC is associated with increased foraging and energy intake. Thus, we recommend that additional investigations of GC- and T3-energy relationships be conducted in free-ranging animals across a diversity of body size and life-history strategies before these endocrine markers are applied broadly to wildlife conservation and management.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-08-04T11:05:33.061321-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1608
  • A pesticide paradox: Fungicides indirectly increase fungal infections
    • Authors: Jason R. Rohr; Jenise Brown, William A. Battaglin, Taegan A. McMahon, Rick A. Relyea
      Abstract: There are many examples where the use of chemicals have had profound unintended consequences, such as fertilizers reducing crop yields (paradox of enrichment) and insecticides increasing insect pests (by reducing natural biocontrol). Recently, the application of agrochemicals, such as agricultural disinfectants and fungicides, has been explored as an approach to curb the pathogenic fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which is associated with worldwide amphibian declines. However, the long-term, net effects of early-life exposure to these chemicals on amphibian disease risk have not been thoroughly investigated. Using a combination of laboratory experiments and analysis of data from the literature, we explored the effects of fungicide exposure on Bd infections in two frog species. Extremely low concentrations of the fungicides azoxystrobin, chlorothalonil, and mancozeb were directly toxic to Bd in culture. However, estimated environmental concentrations of the fungicides did not reduce Bd on Cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) tadpoles exposed simultaneously to any of these fungicides and Bd, and fungicide exposure actually increased Bd-induced mortality. Additionally, exposure to any of these fungicides as tadpoles resulted in higher Bd abundance and greater Bd-induced mortality when challenged with Bd post-metamorphosis, an average of 71 days after their last fungicide exposure. Analysis of data from the literature revealed that previous exposure to the fungicide itraconazole, which is commonly used to clear Bd infections, made the critically endangered booroolong frog (Litoria booroolongensis) more susceptible to Bd. Finally, a field survey revealed that Bd prevalence was positively associated with concentrations of fungicides in ponds. Although fungicides show promise for controlling Bd, these results suggest that, if fungicides do not completely eliminate Bd or if Bd re-colonizes, exposure to fungicides has the potential to do more harm than good. To ensure that fungicide applications have the intended consequence of curbing amphibian declines, researchers must identify which fungicides do not compromise the pathogen resistance mechanisms of amphibians.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-08-01T09:45:50.000304-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1607
  • Modelling plant interspecific interactions from experiments of perennial
           crop mixtures to predict optimal combinations
    • Authors: Virginia Halty; Matías Valdés, Mauricio Tejera, Valentín Picasso, Hugo Fort
      Abstract: The contribution of plant species richness to productivity and ecosystem functioning is a long standing issue in Ecology, with relevant implications for both conservation and agriculture. Both experiments and quantitative modelling are fundamental to the design of sustainable agroecosystems and the optimization of crop production.We modelled communities of perennial crop mixtures by using a generalized Lotka-Volterra model, i.e. a model such that the interspecific interactions are more general than purely competitive. We estimated model parameters -carrying capacities and interaction coefficientsfrom, respectively, the observed biomass of monocultures and bicultures measured in a large diversity experiment of seven perennial forage species in Iowa, United States.The sign and absolute value of the interaction coefficients showed that the biological interactions between species pairs included amensalism, competition, and parasitism (asymmetric positive-negative interaction), with various degrees of intensity.We tested the model fit by simulating the combinations of more than two species and comparing them with the polycultures experimental data. Overall, theoretical predictions are in good agreement with the experiments.Using this model, we also simulated species combinations that were not sown. From all possible mixtures (sown and not sown) we identified which are the most productive species combinations.Our results demonstrate that a combination of experiments and modelling can contribute to the design of sustainable agricultural systems in general and to the optimization of crop production in particular.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-07-28T01:15:50.30046-05:0
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1605
  • Predicting life history parameters for all fishes worldwide
    • Authors: James T. Thorson; Stephan B. Munch, Jason M. Cope, Jin Gao
      Abstract: Scientists and resource managers need to know life history parameters (e.g., average mortality rate, individual growth rate, maximum length or mass, and timing of maturity) to understand and respond to risks to natural populations and ecosystems. For over one-hundred years, scientists have identified “life history invariants” (LHI) representing pairs of parameters whose ratio is theorized to be constant across species. LHI then promise to allow prediction of many parameters from field-measurements of a few important traits. Using LHI in this way, however, neglects any residual patterns in parameters when making predictions. We therefore apply a multivariate model for eight variables (seven parameters and temperature) in all 32,000 marine fishes, and include taxonomic structure for residuals (with levels for class, order, family, genus, and species). We illustrate that this approach predicts variables probabilistically for taxa with many or few data. We then use this model to resolve three questions regarding life-history parameters in fishes. Specifically we show that: (1) on average there is a 1.24% decrease in the Brody growth coefficient for every 1% increase in maximum size; (2) the ratio of natural mortality rate and growth coefficient is not a LHI but instead varies systematically based on the timing of maturation, where movement along this life-history axis is predictably correlated with species taxonomy; and (3) three variables must be known per species to precisely predict remaining life-history variables. We distribute our predictive model as an R package to allow future life-history predictions for fishes to be conditioned on taxonomy and life-history data for fishes worldwide. This package also contains predictions (and predictive intervals) for mortality, maturity, size, and growth parameters for all described fishes.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
      PubDate: 2017-07-26T17:25:56.581437-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1606
  • Issue Information
    • Pages: 2245 - 2248
      PubDate: 2017-12-01T09:51:00.538071-05:
      DOI: 10.1002/eap.1657
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