Journal of Ecology

Cover image for Vol. 102 Issue 2

Early View (Online Version of Record published before inclusion in an issue)

Edited By: David Gibson, Richard Bardgett, Mark Rees, Amy Austin

Impact Factor: 5.431

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2012: 11/197 (Plant Sciences); 14/136 (Ecology)

Online ISSN: 1365-2745

Associated Title(s): Functional Ecology, Journal of Animal Ecology, Journal of Applied Ecology, Methods in Ecology and Evolution


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  1. Standard Papers

    1. Hydrology, shore morphology and species traits affect seed dispersal, germination and community assembly in shoreline plant communities

      Casper H. A. van Leeuwen, Judith M. Sarneel, José van Paassen, Winnie J. Rip and Elisabeth S. Bakker

      Article first published online: 14 APR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12250

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      An experimental spring drawdown water regime instead of a stable water level year-round enhances seed establishment on the shores of temperate wetlands. A drawdown water regime increases species richness and diversity, especially on gradually sloping shores. Germination from the seed bank was affected by the water regime and slope of the shore, but not by species traits. Establishment of dispersing seeds was affected by both water regime and species traits.

    2. Earlier leaf-out rather than difference in freezing resistance puts juvenile trees at greater risk of damage than adult trees

      Yann Vitasse, Armando Lenz, Günter Hoch and Christian Körner

      Article first published online: 10 APR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12251

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      In temperate climates, young trees have often been seen to be more sensitive to late-spring freezes than adult trees. Here, we demonstrated that seedlings and saplings are more prone to freeze damage than adult trees because of their earlier flushing rather than due to a higher sensitivity to freezing as such. Photo: Yann Vitasse.

    3. Above-ground herbivory by red milkweed beetles facilitates above- and below-ground conspecific insects and reduces fruit production in common milkweed

      Alexis C. Erwin, Tobias Züst, Jared G. Ali and Anurag A. Agrawal

      Article first published online: 1 APR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12248

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      Induced plant responses of common milkweed to above-ground damage by adult Tetraopes tetraophthalmus both facilitate further damage by adults and enhance the performance of their root-feeding larvae, most likely as a result of host plant manipulation. Although the same induction reduced monarch herbivory, the net effect of these interactions was negative for the plant as fruit production was substantially reduced. These results imply that host plant manipulation may be especially common by specialist herbivores that have sequential above- and below-ground life stages.

    4. A complex network of interactions controls coexistence and relative abundances in Patagonian grass-shrub steppes

      Pablo A. Cipriotti, Martín R. Aguiar, Thorsten Wiegand and José M. Paruelo

      Article first published online: 24 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12246

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      A complex network of mechanisms controls growth-form coexistence and relative abundances in the Patagonian grass-shrub steppe where both, demographic bottlenecks and species interactions across life forms, species and life stages were important. The partial vertical root overlap between grasses and shrubs is necessary to produce a diversity of interactions and that neither stronger (total overlap) nor weaker competition (no overlap) between functional types was capable of producing the field patterns.

    5. Genotypic diversity and trait variance interact to affect marsh plant performance

      A. Randall Hughes

      Article first published online: 24 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12244

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      Genotypic and trait diversity of the foundation species Spartina alterniflora interactively influenced above- and below-ground responses in a 1-year field experiment (shown here immediately after planting). The influence of intraspecific trait diversity, particularly in genotypic monoculture, highlights the importance of functional variation for ecological effects of genetic diversity and suggests that readily measured trait variance may serve as a valuable predictor of plant performance.

    6. Evergreen shrubs dominate responses to experimental summer warming and fertilization in Canadian mesic low arctic tundra

      Tara J. Zamin, M. Syndonia Bret-Harte and Paul Grogan

      Article first published online: 21 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12237

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      Climate change in arctic tundra is projected to increase soil fertility. Our results strongly suggest that the trajectory of mesic tundra vegetation change with warming depends critically on the rate of increase in soil fertility. The relatively large greenhouse-induced biomass increase in evergreen compared to deciduous shrubs suggests that carbon balance and albedo feedbacks to warming will be restricted in mesic tundra ecosystems, at least in their early responses to climate change.

    7. Release thresholds for moss spores: the importance of turbulence and sporophyte length

      Victor Johansson, Niklas Lönnell, Sebastian Sundberg and Kristoffer Hylander

      Article first published online: 21 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12245

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      We suggest that vibration of moss sporophytes is an important mechanism to regulate spore release and that turbulence and sporophyte length regulate the onset of sporophyte vibration. Spore release thresholds affect dispersal distances and have implications for our understanding and predictions of species distribution patterns, population dynamics and persistence. The mechanisms of this phase of the dispersal process are also important to explore for other species, as there may be a substantial variation depending on the species' different traits.

    8. A model for non-equilibrium metapopulation dynamics utilizing data on species occupancy, patch ages and landscape history

      Alejandro Ruete, Örjan Fritz and Tord Snäll

      Article first published online: 19 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12229

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      The distribution pattern of many species living in highly fragmented landscapes reflects the past rather than the current landscape structure (see map of the study area). The presented approach uses data on only species occurrence (0 or 1), patch age (blue arrow) and landscape history to estimate the species colonization rate and dispersal kernel. The model estimates the rate of change in the occurrence pattern by estimating the most likely time of colonization for years where nothing is known about the occupancy state of the focal patch (NA). * The stand is not yet suitable for the focal species.

    9. Secondary dispersal by ants promotes forest regeneration after deforestation

      Silvia C. Gallegos, Isabell Hensen and Matthias Schleuning

      Article first published online: 18 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12226

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      In the absence of secondary dispersal, seed germination and seedling recruitment were very low in degraded habitats. Secondary seed dispersal by ants substantially increased natural regeneration in the deforested habitats. Our experiments thus demonstrate that secondary dispersal is a crucial and overlooked process that can aid the regeneration of deforested habitats in the tropics.

    10. Critical transitions in disturbance-driven ecosystems: identifying Windows of Opportunity for recovery

      Thorsten Balke, Peter M. J. Herman and Tjeerd J. Bouma

      Article first published online: 17 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12241

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      We demonstrate how time-series analysis of external forcing is able to identify potential events for sudden vegetation recovery in biogeomorphic ecosystems. These so called ‘Windows of Opportunity’ (WoO) occur whenever external forcing is reduced for a sufficient amount of time in which plants can root and gain stability against average forcing. The WoO concept offers an important tool towards predicting transitions in disturbance-driven ecosystems and may have broader implications for understanding critical transitions in other ecosystems with stochastic external forcing.

    11. Multi-century reconstruction of fire activity in Northern European boreal forest suggests differences in regional fire regimes and their sensitivity to climate

      Igor Drobyshev, Anders Granström, Hans W. Linderholm, Erik Hellberg, Yves Bergeron and Mats Niklasson

      Article first published online: 17 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12235

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      Historical patterns of the occurrence of large fire years (LFY) in Scandinavia point towards the presence of two well-defined zones with characteristic fire activity, with the geographical division at approximately 60° N. The northern and mid-boreal forests, although exhibiting lower LFY frequencies, appeared to be more sensitive to past summer climate, as compared to the southern boreal forests. This would imply that fire regimes across Scandinavia may show an asynchronous response to future climate changes.

    12. Soil-mediated effects of invasive ungulates on native tree seedlings

      Paul Kardol, Ian A. Dickie, Mark G. St. John, Sean W. Husheer, Karen I. Bonner, Peter J. Bellingham and David A. Wardle

      Article first published online: 17 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12234

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      Invasive herbivores may potentially impact on plant performance and community structure not only directly but also indirectly through influencing soil abiotic and biotic properties. We show that shifts in plant–soil interactions and feedbacks represent important but understudied pathways by which invasive ungulates can have wide-ranging impacts on forest ecosystems.

    13. Is there a ‘browse trap’? Dynamics of herbivore impacts on trees and grasses in an African savanna

      Ann Carla Staver and William J. Bond

      Article first published online: 14 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12230

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      This work provides the first experimental evidence that release from browsing trumps grazer–grass–fire interactions to result in increases in tree size that persist even after browser reintroduction. Escape from the ‘browse trap’ may be incremental and not strictly episodic, but, over longer time-scales, reductions in browsing pressure may lead to tree establishment events in savanna that persist even during periods of intense browsing. Explicitly considering the temporal demographic effects of browsing will be the key for a much-needed evaluation of the potential global extent of herbivore impacts in savanna.

    14. Incorporating dominant species as proxies for biotic interactions strengthens plant community models

      Peter C. le Roux, Loïc Pellissier, Mary S. Wisz and Miska Luoto

      Article first published online: 14 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12239

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      We demonstrate the strong role of dominant species in shaping multiple plant community attributes, and thus the need to explicitly include interspecific interactions to achieve robust predictions of assemblage properties. Incorporating information on biotic interactions strengthens our capacity not only to predict the richness and composition of communities, but also how their structure and function will be modified in the face of global change.

    15. Climate drivers, host identity and fungal endophyte infection determine virus prevalence in a grassland ecosystem

      Megan A. Rúa, Rebecca L. McCulley and Charles E. Mitchell

      Article first published online: 13 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12238

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      Our investigation experimentally demonstrates strong combined impacts of biotic and abiotic factors on disease dynamics in a grassland system. Impacts of climate change on virus prevalence in grasslands may depend on the responses of aphid vectors and the presence of endophytic fungal symbionts.

    16. Variability in seed cone production and functional response of seed predators to seed cone availability: support for the predator satiation hypothesis

      Yan B. Linhart, Xoaquín Moreira, Marc A. Snyder and Kailen A. Mooney

      Article first published online: 12 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12231

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      Pinus ponderosa escapes its seed predators in time by reproducing at irregular intervals (masting). In years when many cones are available, trees suffer markedly lower rates of seed predator attack than years of low production: white dots = non-mast years, grey dots = intermediate years, black dots = mast years. These data provide evidence that mast seeding in this species evolved in response to natural selection from insect seed predators.

    17. Ocean acidification outweighs nutrient effects in structuring seagrass epiphyte communities

      Justin E. Campbell and James W. Fourqurean

      Article first published online: 12 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12233

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      Developing a framework for assessing interactions between multiple anthropogenic stressors remains an important goal in environmental research. In coastal ecosystems, the relative effects of global climate change (e.g. CO2 concentrations) and localized stressors (e.g. eutrophication), in combination, have received limited attention. Our in situ experiment reveals that global stressors such as ocean acidification (OA) may take precedence over local eutrophication in altering the community structure of seagrass epiphytes. Given that nutrient-driven algal overgrowth is commonly cited as a widespread cause of seagrass decline, our findings highlight that alternate climate change forces, such as OA, may exert proximate control over epiphyte community structure.

    18. Experimental test of plant defence evolution in four species using long-term rabbit exclosures

      Teresa J. Didiano, Nash E. Turley, Georg Everwand, Hanno Schaefer, Michael J. Crawley and Marc T. J. Johnson

      Article first published online: 12 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12227

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      Our study provides an experimental test of the evolutionary effects of an ecologically important herbivore. We found evidence for plant defence evolution following >20 years of rabbit exclusion; however, the evidence was only strong in one species for multiple traits, weak in all three grass species for avoidance and absent in an herb species. This suggests that the evolutionary effects of an ecologically important herbivore on plants will be variable and difficult to predict in nature.

    19. Pinus ponderosa alters nitrogen dynamics and diminishes the climate footprint in natural ecosystems of Patagonia

      Laura J. T. Hess and Amy T. Austin

      Article first published online: 11 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12228

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      Understanding climate effects on plant–soil interactions remains challenging because floristic composition changes concurrently with rainfall in natural ecosystems. We demonstrate here, by taking advantage of widely planted 35-year-old pine plantations in Patagonia, that afforestation eliminates much of the variation in N dynamics observed in natural vegetation with changes in precipitation. Moreover, altering natural species composition alone is sufficient to cause large impacts on N cycling independently of rainfall.

    20. Interactions among herbivory, climate, topography and plant age shape riparian willow dynamics in northern Yellowstone National Park, USA

      Kristin N. Marshall, David J. Cooper and N. Thompson Hobbs

      Article first published online: 7 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12225

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      We show that the effects of modification of a food web cannot be predicted by studying trophic dynamics in isolation. No single driver explained patterns of willow establishment and growth over the past three decades in Yellowstone. Instead, interactions among trophic forces, interannual climate variability and landscape topography together shaped how the ecosystem responded to perturbations. Top-down effects of ungulates on riparian woody vegetation must be considered in the context of plant age, and climate and landscape heterogeneity.

  2. Corrigendum

    1. You have free access to this content

      Article first published online: 6 MAR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12242

      This article corrects:

      Waiting for Gajah: an elephant mutualist's contingency plan for an endangered megafaunal disperser

      Vol. 101, Issue 6, 1379–1388, Article first published online: 9 OCT 2013

  3. Standard Papers

    1. Traits of plant communities in fragmented forests: the relative influence of habitat spatial configuration and local abiotic conditions

      Adam Kimberley, G. Alan Blackburn, J. Duncan Whyatt and Simon M. Smart

      Article first published online: 26 FEB 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12222

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      In addition to the effects of greater light availability and competition in small patches and at forest edges, aspects of habitat configuration such as patch size and isolation are themselves important factors limiting the occurrence of forest specialist species.

    2. Linking functional traits and demographic rates in a subtropical tree community: the importance of size dependency

      Yoshiko Iida, Takashi S. Kohyama, Nathan G. Swenson, Sheng-Hsin Su, Chien-Teh Chen, Jyh-Min Chiang and I-Fang Sun

      Article first published online: 25 FEB 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12221

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      An important goal in plant community ecology is to understand how species traits determine demographic performance. Several functional traits have been shown to correlate with demography, but less is known about their size dependency. This paper investigates the importance of size dependency in trait–demography relationships across 43 species in a Taiwanese rain forest.

  4. Forum

    1. Disentangling the mechanisms underlying functional differences among decomposer communities

      Ashley D. Keiser, David A. Keiser, Michael S. Strickland and Mark A. Bradford

      Article first published online: 25 FEB 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12220

  5. Standard Papers

    1. No signs of meristem senescence in old Scots pine

      Maurizio Mencuccini, Marta Oñate, Josep Peñuelas, Laura Rico and Sergi Munné-Bosch

      Article first published online: 12 FEB 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12219

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      We conclude that changes in DNA methylation can occur in old trees. The lack of apparent physiological deterioration in the grafted plants suggests that meristem senescence is not the main factor triggering whole-plant ageing in Scots pine.

    2. Defoliation effects on seed dispersal and seedling recruitment in a tropical rain forest understorey palm

      Jeffrey van Lent, Juan C. Hernández-Barrios, Niels P. R. Anten and Miguel Martínez-Ramos

      Article first published online: 12 FEB 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12216

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      Chronic and intense defoliation (right palm drawing) affects negatively seed production in the understorey palm Chamaedorea ernesti-augustii. Seed dispersal by birds compensates seedling recruitment in sterile populations. Persistence of seed sources is critical for the demographic viability and genetic variability of populations under natural and human induced defoliation regimes.

    3. Restoration of a megaherbivore: landscape-level impacts of white rhinoceros in Kruger National Park, South Africa

      Joris P. G. M. Cromsigt and Mariska te Beest

      Article first published online: 12 FEB 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12218

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      We provide empirical evidence that white rhinoceros may have started to change the structure and composition of Kruger National Park's savanna grasslands. It remains to be tested if these changes lead to other ecological cascading effects. Our results highlight that the current rhino poaching crisis may not only affect the species, but also threaten the potential key role of this megaherbivore as a driver of savanna functioning.


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