Journal of Ecology

Cover image for Vol. 104 Issue 4

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. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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, Johannes 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.

    4. 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.

    5. 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).

    6. 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.

    7. 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.

    8. 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.

    9. 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.

    10. Quercus suber dieback alters soil respiration and nutrient availability in Mediterranean forests

      José M. Avila, Antonio Gallardo, Beatriz Ibáñez and Lorena Gómez-Aparicio

      Version of Record online: 11 JUL 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12618

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      Our results support that tree dieback might have important short- and long-term impacts on ecosystem processes in Mediterranean forests. With this work, we provide valuable insights to fill the existing gap in knowledge on the ecosystem-level impacts of forest dieback in general and P. cinnamomi-driven mortality in particular. Because the activity and range of this pathogen is predicted to increase due to climate warming, these impacts could also increase in the near future, altering ecosystem functioning world-wide.

    11. Species pools and environmental sorting control different aspects of plant diversity and functional trait composition in recovering grasslands

      Timo Conradi and Johannes Kollmann

      Version of Record online: 4 JUL 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12617

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      This study evaluates the drivers of community structure of recovering calcareous grasslands. Considering environmental factors and propagule pressure from source species pools, as well as their compositional and functional characteristics, improves predictions of taxonomic and functional structure of these grasslands. Accounting for species pool effects helps resolving contingencies in successional outcomes.

    12. 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.

    13. The reciprocal relationship between competition and intraspecific trait variation

      Jonathan A. Bennett, Kersti Riibak, Riin Tamme, Rob J. Lewis and Meelis Pärtel

      Version of Record online: 28 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12614

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      Both trait hierarchies and trait dissimilarity affect the outcome of competition by acting on different traits, although competition-induced changes in trait expression can also alter competitive outcomes. Moreover, the magnitude of these trait changes suggests that the source environment where plant traits are collected can affect the inferences drawn from trait patterns within communities. Combined, our results suggest that considering the effect of competition on trait expression is critical to understanding the relationship between traits and community assembly.

  2. Essay Reviews

    1. Regeneration: an overlooked aspect of trait-based plant community assembly models

      Julie E. Larson and Jennifer L. Funk

      Version of Record online: 23 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12613

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      By incorporating influential regeneration traits into empirical studies and global data bases, we can begin to disentangle regenerative mechanisms underlying community assembly outcomes and enhance rapidly developing models of species’ abundances, distributions and responses to environmental change.

  3. Standard Papers

    1. Evidence for enemy release and increased seed production and size for two invasive Australian acacias

      Marta Correia, Daniel Montesinos, Kristine French and Susana Rodríguez-Echeverría

      Version of Record online: 20 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12612

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      Changes in seed production, seed size, pre-dispersal predation and seedling growth during the invasion process of two Australian acacias, Acacia dealbata and A. longifolia, were evaluated in the native range and invaded areas in Portugal. Overall, plants from invasive populations displayed no seed pre-dispersal predation, a higher production of fully developed seeds per fruit and an increase in seed size and seedling growth compared to plants in Australia. These differences can contribute to the invasiveness of the two species in Portugal.

    2. Land-use history augments environment–plant community relationship strength in a Puerto Rican wet forest

      James Aaron Hogan, Jess K. Zimmerman, María Uriarte, Benjamin L. Turner and Jill Thompson

      Version of Record online: 20 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12608

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      Land use in the Luquillo Mountains of north-eastern Puerto Rico (ca. 1800) primarily consisted of large charcoal operations. Large tabonuco (Dacryodes excelsa Vahl) trees were harvested and smoldered in large pits to provide cooking fuel for pre-industrial Puerto Rican society. Large chunks of charcoal were collected and transported down the Luquillo Mountains to market using ox carts.

    3. Nutrient additions cause divergence of tallgrass prairie plant communities resulting in loss of ecosystem stability

      Sally E. Koerner, Meghan L. Avolio, Kimberly J. La Pierre, Kevin R. Wilcox, Melinda D. Smith and Scott L. Collins

      Version of Record online: 20 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12610

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      Twelve years of chronic nutrient additions leads to increase in both spatial and temporal community variability in mesic tallgrass prairie. The changes in community variability through time were directly related to decreased ecosystem stability. While mean shifts in community structure in response to nutrient additions are important, the change in variability of local communities has significant implications for our ability to predict how the patterns of biodiversity and ecosystem function will respond to a rapidly changing world.

    4. The effect of competition on responses to drought and interannual climate variability of a dominant conifer tree of western North America

      Gunnar C. Carnwath and Cara R. Nelson

      Version of Record online: 13 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12604

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      This study shows that competition can significantly modify climate–growth relationships of mature trees and provides additional evidence that the general influence of competitive interactions on plant performance becomes less important in more stressful abiotic conditions. Results also suggest that the effect of competition on the climate–growth relationship varies between wet years and dry years.

    5. Light availability experienced in the field affects ability of following generations to respond to shading in an annual grassland plant

      Tina Heger

      Version of Record online: 13 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12607

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      In the grassland annual E. cicutarium, low average light availability experienced in the field induces a trade-off of vegetative growth against early flowering, providing the following generations with the capacity to overtop neighbours. This capacity is utilized especially if plants experience a mixture of gaps and deep shade.

  4. Corrigendum

    1. You have free access to this content

      Version of Record online: 9 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12611

      This article corrects:
  5. Standard Papers

    1. On the link between functional traits and growth rate: meta-analysis shows effects change with plant size, as predicted

      Anaïs Gibert, Emma F. Gray, Mark Westoby, Ian J. Wright and Daniel S. Falster

      Version of Record online: 9 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12594

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      Understanding on how functional traits influence growth has been hindered by inconsitsent empirical results. Here, we show how trait-growth correlations change in a predictable way with plant size. We outline mechanistic hypotheses, and test them via meta-analysis. Our findings indicate that our understanding of plant strategies should shift away describing species as having a fixed growth strategy throughout their life, in favour of a size-dependent growth trajectory.

    2. Exotic or not, leaf trait dissimilarity modulates the effect of dominant species on mixed litter decomposition

      Genevieve E. Finerty, Francesco de Bello, Karolína Bílá, Matty P. Berg, André T.C. Dias, Gianni B. Pezzatti and Marco Moretti

      Version of Record online: 9 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12602

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      Our results indicate that the effect of adding an exotic or losing a native species on litter decomposition rate can be predicted from how a species alters both CWM and FD trait values. This supports the idea that the repercussions of exotic species on ecosystem processes depends on the extent that introduced species bear novel traits or trait values and so on how functionally dissimilar a species is compared to the existing species in the community.

    3. Holocene variability of an Amazonian hyperdominant

      Mark B. Bush and Crystal N. H. McMichael

      Version of Record online: 6 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12600

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      Our findings are consistent with the observation that communities in complex systems are ephemeral. The populations of even the most abundant species can change over a few tens of generations. The relative abundance of tree species, even in relatively stable systems such as those of Amazonian floodplains, changes on ecological not evolutionary timescales.

    4. Wind exposure and light exposure, more than elevation-related temperature, limit tree line seedling abundance on three continents

      Eliot J. B. McIntire, Frida I. Piper and Alex Fajardo

      Version of Record online: 31 MAY 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12599

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      Seedling abundance at alpine tree lines is limited by multiple simultaneous factors with the temperature decrease with elevation playing a relatively minor role. We therefore note that if the temperature threshold limiting the conversion from seedlings to adult trees is relaxed because of global warming, upward tree line migration will depend on the availability of shelter sites for seedlings.

    5. Forest structure along a 600 km transect of natural disturbances and seasonality gradients in central-southern Amazonia

      Juliana Schietti, Demétrius Martins, Thaise Emilio, Priscila F. Souza, Carolina Levis, Fabricio B. Baccaro, José Luiz Purri da Veiga Pinto, Gabriel M. Moulatlet, Scott C. Stark, Kelly Sarmento, R. Nazaré O. de Araújo, Flávia R. C. Costa, Jochen Schöngart, Carlos A. Quesada, Scott R. Saleska, Javier Tomasella and William E. Magnusson

      Version of Record online: 31 MAY 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12596

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      Forests of central-southern Amazonia are not resource limited and accumulate most part of their biomass in small- to mid-sized trees. Disturbance gradients given by the frequency of storms and soil conditions and seasonality were investigated as possible underlying factors influencing this pattern and the variations in stem density, mean individual mass and ultimately above-ground woody biomass in these forests.

    6. Leaf traits of African woody savanna species across climate and soil fertility gradients: evidence for conservative versus acquisitive resource-use strategies

      Benjamin J. Wigley, Jasper A. Slingsby, Sandra Díaz, William J. Bond, Hervé Fritz and Corli Coetsee

      Version of Record online: 24 MAY 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12598

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      The relationships between traits and between traits and environmental gradients were far weaker than, and often contradictory to, broad-scale studies that compare these relationships across biomes and growth forms, cautioning against making generalizations about relationships at specific sites based on broad-scale analyses.

    7. Context-dependent changes in the functional composition of tree communities along successional gradients after land-use change

      Masahiro Aiba, Hiroko Kurokawa, Yusuke Onoda, Michio Oguro, Tohru Nakashizuka and Takashi Masaki

      Version of Record online: 24 MAY 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12597

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      As a whole, our analyses demonstrate that the functional changes in tree communities after land-use change are highly evident in a given context but can be different under different contexts. These changes in functional composition can trigger variable changes in ecosystem functions such as carbon and nutrient cycling that depend on the context.

    8. You have full text access to this OnlineOpen article
      Drought history affects grassland plant and microbial carbon turnover during and after a subsequent drought event

      Lucia Fuchslueger, Michael Bahn, Roland Hasibeder, Sandra Kienzl, Karina Fritz, Michael Schmitt, Margarete Watzka and Andreas Richter

      Version of Record online: 24 MAY 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12593

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      Drought history can induce changes in above- vs. below-ground plant N concentrations and affect the response of plant C turnover to further droughts and rewetting by decreasing plant C uptake and below-ground allocation. Drought history does not affect the responses of the microbial community to further droughts and rewetting, but alters microbial functioning, particularly the turnover of recent plant-derived carbon, during and after further drought periods.

    9. Herbivory mediates the long-term shift in the relative importance of microsite and propagule limitation

      Anu Eskelinen, Patrick Saccone, Marko J. Spasojevic and Risto Virtanen

      Version of Record online: 10 MAY 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12592

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      Our results show that herbivory interacts with environmental conditions to mediate the relative importance of microsite and propagule limitations on community assembly; however, its impacts may only become detectable over longer time-scales. Moreover, our results suggest that herbivory may be a key biotic modulator of community assembly in low-productivity ecosystems and that incorporating trophic interactions (such as herbivory) into hypotheses about community assembly may provide a better understanding of the relative importance of different assembly mechanisms.

    10. Root traits are multidimensional: specific root length is independent from root tissue density and the plant economic spectrum

      Kris R. Kramer-Walter, Peter J. Bellingham, Timothy R. Millar, Rob D. Smissen, Sarah J. Richardson and Daniel C. Laughlin

      Version of Record online: 11 MAR 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12562

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      Root, stem and leaf tissue traits of tree seedlings are coordinated and influence fitness along soil fertility gradients. Root tissue density responds in unison with above-ground traits to soil fertility gradients; however, root traits are multidimensional because specific root length (SRL) is orthogonal to the plant economic spectrum. In contrast to leaves, trees are not constrained in the way they construct fine roots: plants can construct high or low SRL roots of any tissue density. High root tissue density is the most consistent below-ground trait that reflects adaptation to infertile soil.


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