Journal of Ecology

Cover image for Vol. 104 Issue 5

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

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

Impact Factor: 6.18

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2015: 9/149 (Ecology); 9/209 (Plant Sciences)

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. Taxonomic resolution is a determinant of biodiversity effects in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities

      Haishui Yang, Qian Zhang, Roger T. Koide, Jason D. Hoeksema, Jianjun Tang, Xinmin Bian, Shuijin Hu and Xin Chen

      Version of Record online: 22 SEP 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12655

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      Conservation of AMF communities to maintain a full complement of ecosystem functions requires the presence of diverse families and not simply diverse species within a family. This finding may be of key importance for the function of ecosystems under various environmental perturbations to which AMF families may respond differently.

    2. Constraints of cold and shade on the phenology of spring ephemeral herb species

      Carol K. Augspurger and Carl F. Salk

      Version of Record online: 14 SEP 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12651

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      This experiment that altered the natural phenology of spring ephemeral herb species in temperate deciduous forest demonstrates that cold temperatures in early spring and canopy shade in late spring lower the survival and reproduction of most species. These constraints explain their ephemeral phenology. The results indicate their potential vulnerability to shifting patterns of frost and shade with climate change.

    3. Plant species richness negatively affects root decomposition in grasslands

      Hongmei Chen, Liesje Mommer, Jasper van Ruijven, Hans de Kroon, Christine Fischer, Arthur Gessler, Anke Hildebrandt, Michael Scherer-Lorenzen, Christian Wirth and Alexandra Weigelt

      Version of Record online: 13 SEP 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12650

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      With three decomposition experiments, Chen et al. demonstrate that root decomposition decreases with increasing plant diversity and that changes in both root substrate quality and soil environmental conditions contribute to this negative effect of plant divers. This study promotes the mechanistic understanding of increased soil carbon accumulation in more diverse grassland plant communities.

    4. Hydrologically contrasting environments induce genetic but not phenotypic differentiation in Solanum dulcamara

      Qian Zhang, Janny L. Peters, Eric J. W. Visser, Hans de Kroon and Heidrun Huber

      Version of Record online: 12 SEP 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12648

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      By comparing plants from contrasting habitats, this paper shows that S. dulcamara has not evolved locally adapted populations in response to flooding and drought stress, despite genetic differentiation and despite the presumably strong selection gradient. The generally high levels of adaptive plasticity in traits increasing flooding and drought tolerance may be the main mechanism allowing S. dulcamara to occupy hydrologically contrasting habitats.

    5. Reduced mycorrhizal responsiveness leads to increased competitive tolerance in an invasive exotic plant

      Lauren P. Waller, Ragan M. Callaway, John N. Klironomos, Yvette K. Ortega and John L. Maron

      Version of Record online: 12 SEP 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12641

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      Many exotic invasive species are known to associate weakly with AM fungi, which may be beneficial in disturbed habitats where competition for resources is low. Our results indicate that reduced mycorrhizal associations may also benefit invaders in a competitive environment. Centaurea solstitialis were more strongly suppressed by established S. pulchra plants in the presence versus absence of AM fungi, but exotic genotypes were less suppressed than native genotypes. This suggests that AM fungi may contribute to invasion resistance in established native communities, but range-based shifts in the way exotic genotypes respond to AM fungal partners may counter such biotic resistance.

    6. Experience of inundation or drought alters the responses of plants to subsequent water conditions

      Shu Wang, Ragan M. Callaway, Dao-Wei Zhou and Jacob Weiner

      Version of Record online: 12 SEP 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12649

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      Early inundation or drought experience may be harmful immediately, but can be beneficial for the later growth of plants. The ability of species to utilize early hydrological experiences was associated with the water range of their habitats and whether the species is invasive or native. The ability to modulate future plastic responses may be as important as short-term plasticity in adapting to temporal environmental heterogeneity. Such ‘metaplasticity’ can optimize current performance, while avoiding the potential costs of maintaining a high degree of plasticity throughout life.

    7. Urban warming favours C4 plants in temperate European cities

      Grant A. Duffy and Steven L. Chown

      Version of Record online: 12 SEP 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12652

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      Applying a combined trait-based, ecoinformatic and remote-sensing approach provides new insight into the landscape-level consequences of urbanization. Specifically, we show that localized urban warming in cities across temperate Europe favours C4 plant species, which respond positively to increased temperatures. Urban plant assemblages are shaped by environmental warming and exhibit significant increases in C4 plant relative abundance compared to non-urban assemblages.

    8. Effects of permafrost thaw on nitrogen availability and plant–soil interactions in a boreal Alaskan lowland

      Rebecca A. Finger, Merritt R. Turetsky, Knut Kielland, Roger W. Ruess, Michelle C. Mack and Eugénie S. Euskirchen

      Version of Record online: 6 SEP 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12639

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      Climate change is creating widespread permafrost thaw and changing boreal forest carbon cycling dynamics, yet few studies have examined post-thaw changes to nitrogen cycling. This study demonstrates that as lowland forests convert to wetlands following permafrost thaw, N availability increases. Plants appear to utilize additional deeper N sources over timescales of years to centuries following permafrost thaw.

    9. Reproduction by seed and clonality in plants: correlated syndromes or independent strategies?

      Tomáš Herben, Oliver Tackenberg and Jitka Klimešová

      Version of Record online: 6 SEP 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12646

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      By analysis of 900+ herbaceous species, we show existence of specific syndromes of seed reproduction and clonal growth, but no syndromes that cover both sets of traits. Clonal traits are more tightly linked to species' niches (namely disturbance niche) than seed traits. Phylogenetic conservatism of clonal traits is almost as strong as conservatism of seed traits, implying these traits cannot serve as an evolutionarily more flexible alternative to seed reproduction.

    10. Testing the apparent resistance of three dominant plants to chronic drought on the Colorado Plateau

      David L. Hoover, Michael C. Duniway and Jayne Belnap

      Version of Record online: 5 SEP 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12647

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      Many drylands are projected to become more water-limited with climate change. In this study, we examined the drought resistance of three dominant plants to an ongoing experimental drought in the Colorado Plateau. Our results suggest that a future with less precipitation and higher temperatures may increase the dominance of shrubs in this region as grasses succumb to chronic water stress.

    11. You have full text access to this OnlineOpen article
      Plant–soil feedbacks: role of plant functional group and plant traits

      Roeland Cortois, Thomas Schröder-Georgi, Alexandra Weigelt, Wim H. van der Putten and Gerlinde B. De Deyn

      Version of Record online: 24 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12643

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      Plant species from all plant FGs grow better in soil from other species because of less net negative effects of soil biota (in graminoids), or because of more net positive soil biota effects (in tall herbs). Explorative plant species (high SRL, low %AMF colonization) suffer most from negative feedback of all soil biota, whereas more resource conservative species (low SRL, high %AMF colonization) benefit from soil feedback of all soil biota. These findings help to understand replacement of explorative species during succession. Moreover, we suggest a potentially larger role for species with positive feedback than for species with negative feedback to contribute to maintain plant community productivity of diverse communities over time.

    12. A demographic ménage à trois: interactions between disturbances both amplify and dampen population dynamics of an endemic plant

      Matthew R. Tye, Eric S. Menges, Carl Weekley, Pedro F. Quintana-Ascencio and Roberto Salguero-Gómez

      Version of Record online: 23 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12642

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      The co-occurrence of various disturbances may both amplify and dampen the effects of other disturbances on population growth rate, thus shaping complex population dynamics that are neither linear nor additive. These realistic nonlinearities represent challenges in understanding and projecting of population dynamics. Here, we examined the effects of various sources of disturbance on the population dynamics of an endangered plant species, finding complex interactions affecting population growth rates. We argue that integration of multiple, interacting stressors in IPMs will allow more accurate estimation of the overall effects of ecological processes on species viability.

    13. Co-fruiting plant species share similar fruit and seed traits while phylogenetic patterns vary through time

      Onja H. Razafindratsima and Amy E. Dunham

      Version of Record online: 22 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12645

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      We suggest that it may be more beneficial for co-fruiting plant species to share similar fruit and seed traits than to diversify traits, when they rely on a comparatively small set of generalist frugivorous taxa for seed dispersal. Results also demonstrate that rainfall-driven environmental filtering may cause seasonal fluctuations in the phylogenetic patterns of phenology in a community. Results highlight the importance of a temporal context in examining patterns of community structure.

  2. Essay Reviews

    1. Plant secondary metabolites: a key driver of litter decomposition and soil nutrient cycling

      Mathilde Chomel, Marie Guittonny-Larchevêque, Catherine Fernandez, Christiane Gallet, Annie DesRochers, David Paré, Benjamin G. Jackson and Virginie Baldy

      Version of Record online: 15 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12644

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      Plant secondary metabolites (PSM) have a major influence on litter decomposition principally through their impacts on the activity of soil organisms. In this review, we present examples of key studies where PSM underpin mechanisms driving variation in decomposition processes and nutrient cycling. We argue that studies covering interactions of PSM across a range of spatio-temporal scales (organisms, communities and ecosystem) are needed to further understand their importance in ecosystems.

  3. Standard Papers

    1. Lianas and soil nutrients predict fine-scale distribution of above-ground biomass in a tropical moist forest

      Alicia Ledo, Janine B. Illian, Stefan A. Schnitzer, S. Joseph Wright, James W. Dalling and David F. R. P. Burslem

      Version of Record online: 11 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12635

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      Prediction of carbon dynamics requires an understanding of the processes that govern the distribution of carbon stocks. We revealed that liana abundance and soil nutrients contribute to variation in the fine-scale distribution of tree biomass and hence carbon storage in a primary lowland tropical forest in Panama.

    2. Precipitation alters the strength of evolutionary priority effects in forest community assembly of pteridophytes and angiosperms

      Angela J. Brandt, Andrew J. Tanentzap, Devin R. Leopold, Peter B. Heenan, Tadashi Fukami and William G. Lee

      Version of Record online: 11 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12640

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      We show that evolutionary priority effects persist in communities with a longer evolutionary history than has been investigated to date and across physiologically contrasting taxonomic groups, suggesting priority effects are general drivers of community assembly over macro-evolutionary time-scales. Furthermore, the strength of evolutionary priority effects attenuated along a gradient of decreasing resources, at least for pteridophytes, which improves our ability to predict conditions in which the arrival order of lineages influences community assembly.

    3. Mechanisms of resilience: empirically quantified positive feedbacks produce alternate stable states dynamics in a model of a tropical reef

      Ranjan Muthukrishnan, James O. Lloyd-Smith and Peggy Fong

      Version of Record online: 8 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12631

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      The combination of experimental bioassays to measure feedback strengths and simulation models to evaluate the influence of those feedbacks provides a novel, non-destructive approach to evaluating ASS dynamics that can be applied in threatened ecosystems where classic approaches are not viable.

    4. Unravelling the natural dynamics and resilience patterns of underwater Mediterranean forests: insights from the demography of the brown alga Cystoseira zosteroides

      Pol Capdevila, Bernat Hereu, Juan Lluís Riera and Cristina Linares

      Version of Record online: 8 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12625

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      Our findings reveal that deep-water C. zosteroides forests display slow population dynamics, similar to terrestrial perennials and trees. The increase in disturbance frequencies due to global and local stressors and their interaction will cause the decline of underwater macroalgal forests and may induce profound changes in their population and community dynamics.

    5. So close and yet so far away: long-distance dispersal events govern bryophyte metacommunity reassembly

      Marion Barbé, Nicole J. Fenton and Yves Bergeron

      Version of Record online: 8 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12637

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      Long-distance dispersal may be the rule and not the exception in bryophyte metacommunities. Therefore, bryophyte metacommunity dynamics depend on several dispersal scales, and residual forest patches can contribute both to local and regional diaspore clouds. Species’ environmental tolerance during establishment and their ability to produce copious amounts of spores may be more important filters in bryophyte metacommunity dynamics than dispersal distance.

    6. Into the functional ecology of ectomycorrhizal communities: environmental filtering of enzymatic activities

      Courty Pierre-Emmanuel, Munoz François, Selosse Marc-André, Duchemin Myriam, Criquet Stéven, Ziarelli Fabio, Buée Marc, Plassard Claude, Taudière Adrien, Garbaye Jean and Richard Franck

      Version of Record online: 3 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12633

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      Heterogeneous distribution of soil resources drives a community-level functional response and determines the functional and taxonomic mosaic of ECM communities in forest ecosystems.

    7. Short-term climate change manipulation effects do not scale up to long-term legacies: effects of an absent snow cover on boreal forest plants

      Gesche Blume-Werry, Juergen Kreyling, Hjalmar Laudon and Ann Milbau

      Version of Record online: 2 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12636

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      One extreme winter with reduced snow cover already induced ecologically significant alterations to boreal forest plants above- and below-ground, but long-term changes were smaller than suggested by the extrapolation of short-term manipulation results. Our study highlights both the ecological importance of snow cover in boreal forest, and the value of combining short- and long-term experiments side by side.

    8. The role of habitat filtering in the leaf economics spectrum and plant susceptibility to pathogen infection

      Miranda E. Welsh, James Patrick Cronin and Charles E. Mitchell

      Version of Record online: 2 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12632

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      Our results suggest that habitat filtering plays a fundamental role in strengthening the trait correlations of the LES and that trait-based models may be less accurate when communities have not been filtered by the current environment, for example, following rapid environmental change.

    9. Native soilborne pathogens equalize differences in competitive ability between plants of contrasting nutrient-acquisition strategies

      Felipe E. Albornoz, Treena I. Burgess, Hans Lambers, Hannah Etchells and Etienne Laliberté

      Version of Record online: 1 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12638

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      Our study shows that native soilborne pathogens equalized differences in competitive ability between seedlings of contrasting nutrient-acquisition strategies, thus supporting the hypothesis proposing a trade-off between highly efficient P-acquisition and resistance against root pathogens. We found that non-mycorrhizal cluster-rooted species may be the most efficient at acquiring the growth-limiting resource, but that co-occurring ECM species are better defended against root pathogens. Our results suggest that native soilborne pathogens and ECM contribute to the maintenance of the plant hyperdiversity in severely P-impoverished ecosystems.

  4. Essay Reviews

    1. Disentangling the four demographic dimensions of species invasiveness

      Jane A. Catford, John B. Baumgartner, Peter A. Vesk, Matt White, Yvonne M. Buckley and Michael A. McCarthy

      Version of Record online: 1 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12627

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      Conflating multiple forms of invasiveness, by not distinguishing invasive species that are identified using different demographic criteria, may obscure traits possessed by particular subsets of invasive species. Traits promoting high abundance likely differ from those enabling fast spread and broad ranges. Examining traits linked with the four demographic dimensions of invasiveness will highlight species at risk of becoming dominant, spreading quickly or occupying large ranges.

  5. Standard Papers

    1. Evidence of small-scale spatial structuring of phytoplankton alpha- and beta-diversity in the open ocean

      Erik Askov Mousing, Katherine Richardson, Jørgen Bendtsen, Ivona Cetinić and Mary Jane Perry

      Version of Record online: 1 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12634

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      This study shows that small-scale and ephemeral density discontinuities created by submesoscale frontal dynamics can play a major role in structuring patterns of phytoplankton diversity. Evidence is presented that they can generate changes in environmental conditions (leading to environmental filtering) and act as physical (dispersal) barriers for phytoplankton transport. The study suggests that dispersal barriers are potentially of much greater importance for phytoplankton diversity at local scales than currently recognized and indicates that drivers of marine phytoplankton diversity are similar to those structuring diversity of land plants.

    2. Regeneration processes on coarse woody debris in mixed forests: do tree germinants and seedlings have species-specific responses when grown on coarse woody debris?

      Olga Orman, Michał Adamus and Janusz Szewczyk

      Version of Record online: 26 JUL 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12630

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      In mixed beech forests, properties of coarse woody debris influenced seedling demography and growth. There may be trade-offs between seedling growth and survival among tree species growing on different species of coarse woody debris. Interspecific preferential differences regarding properties of coarse woody debris should be considered when investigating its influence on the demographic processes of seedlings.

    3. Systemic enrichment of antifungal traits in the rhizosphere microbiome after pathogen attack

      Jan-Hendrik Dudenhöffer, Stefan Scheu and Alexandre Jousset

      Version of Record online: 26 JUL 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12626

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      We conclude that barley plants selectively recruited bacteria carrying antifungal traits upon pathogen attack and that the pathogen application locally interfered with this process. By disentangling these two effects, we set the base for enhancing strategies unravelling how pathogens and plant hosts jointly shape microbiome functionality.

    4. Evidence of local adaptation to fine- and coarse-grained environmental variability in Poa alpina in the Swiss Alps

      Elena Hamann, Halil Kesselring, Georg F. J. Armbruster, J. F. Scheepens and Jürg Stöcklin

      Version of Record online: 26 JUL 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12628

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      Hamann et al. reciprocally transplanted Poa alpina populations across small and large spatial distances in the Swiss Alps and revealed local adaptation and adaptive phenotypic plasticity. Adaptive genetic differentiation and phenotypic plasticity play a complementary role for adaption to environmental heterogeneity in this species and both may be critical to mitigate local extinction risk under rapid climate change.

    5. Browsing by an invasive herbivore promotes development of plant and soil communities during primary succession

      Peter J. Bellingham, Paul Kardol, Karen I. Bonner, Rowan P. Buxton, Chris W. Morse and David A. Wardle

      Version of Record online: 25 JUL 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12624

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      This study used replicated fenced exclosures (including roofs), paired with controls, to determine the effects of an arboreal introduced herbivore (brushtail possum) on plant and soil communities over 11 years during primary successions on landslides. Surprisingly, the rate of succession towards rain forests, above- and below-ground, was more rapid in the controls to which possums had access. This was because biomass of a key nitrogen-fixing tree was reduced when possums were excluded. The study underscores the need to consider the consequences of altering plant community structure before removing invasive herbivores, with the aim of restoring ecosystems.

    6. Leafing intensity and the fruit size/number trade-off in woody angiosperms

      Sarah L. Dombroskie, Amanda J. Tracey and Lonnie W. Aarssen

      Version of Record online: 25 JUL 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12622

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      Our results indicate that bud bank size is an important functional trait for defining adaptive strategy in woody angiosperms. A larger bud bank is generated by higher leafing intensity, which in turn generates higher fruiting intensity, thus generating greater potential fecundity allocation. These traits will be important for maximizing reproductive economy – that is capacity to produce offspring despite growth or body size limitation (e.g. due to crowding/competition, or because of limited time available for growth, flowering, pollination or fruit/seed maturation).

    7. Mycorrhizal associations of trees have different indirect effects on organic matter decomposition

      Melanie K. Taylor, Richard A. Lankau and Nina Wurzburger

      Version of Record online: 22 JUL 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12629

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      We investigated how mycorrhizal associations of forest trees affect soil heterotrophic respiration. Soils from arbuscular mycorrhizal trees displayed higher loss rates of carbon dioxide relative to those from ectomycorrhizal trees, and the addition of mycorrhizal-specific litter maintained this difference. These findings suggest mycorrhizal associations differ in decomposer-organic matter interactions, which may contribute to patterns in soil C balance among terrestrial ecosystems.

    8. Ontogenetic responses of four plant species to additive and interactive effects of land-use history, canopy structure and herbivory

      Philip G. Hahn and John L. Orrock

      Version of Record online: 22 JUL 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12623

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      This work experimentally separates the habitat-mediated effects on plant performance from the herbivore-mediated effects on plant performance and highlights how context-dependent interactions depend on plant ontogenetic stages.

    9. You have free access to this content
      Plant and insect microbial symbionts alter the outcome of plant–herbivore–parasitoid interactions: implications for invaded, agricultural and natural systems

      Alison E. Bennett, Niall S. Millar, Emils Gedrovics and Alison J. Karley

      Version of Record online: 19 JUL 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12620

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      The presence of soil AM fungi, combined with within-species plant and insect variation in key traits, can have subtle – but significant – effects on plant fitness and insect success. This study highlights the importance of exploring genotypic variation in plant and pest responses to soil microbiota to identify suitable biocontrol options.

    10. Growth and carbon relations of mature Picea abies trees under 5 years of free-air CO2 enrichment

      Tamir Klein, Martin K.-F. Bader, Sebastian Leuzinger, Manuel Mildner, Patrick Schleppi, Rolf T.W. Siegwolf and Christian Körner

      Version of Record online: 18 JUL 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12621

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      In a mature mixed forest, 40 m tall spruce trees exposed to 550 ppm CO2 continuously over 5 years showed increased carbon uptake, but no significant increase in growth, nor in respiration. Nevertheless, an increase was observed in carbon transport to belowground sinks: carbon transfer to ectomycorrhiza and on to neighbouring trees, and carbon export to soil. These tall spruce trees are hence not carbon limited at current CO2 concentrations.

    11. Soil abiotic and biotic controls on plant performance during primary succession in a glacial landscape

      Sarah C. Castle, Ylva Lekberg, David Affleck and Cory C. Cleveland

      Version of Record online: 28 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12615

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      Soil biota can affect the performance of pioneer plants over short gradients of ecosystem development, but the strength and direction of interactions depend on nutrient availability. Conceptual frameworks describing mechanisms of primary succession should acknowledge soil conditioning by previous plants as a potential mechanism of positive feedback.


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