Journal of Ecology

Cover image for Vol. 104 Issue 6

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. Anti-epiphyte defences in the red seaweed Gracilaria vermiculophylla: non-native algae are better defended than their native conspecifics

      Shasha Wang, Gaoge Wang, Florian Weinberger, Dapeng Bian, Masahiro Nakaoka and Mark Lenz

      Version of Record online: 28 NOV 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12694

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      Our results show for the first time that non-native individuals of a marine organism are better defended against epiphytes than native conspecifics. Furthermore, we found evidence that at least a part of the defence is based on extractable secondary metabolites. We discuss several mechanisms that could explain the increased resistance to epiphytes in non-native individuals, including the release from enemies in the non-native range, which could lead to an increase in algal performance during the invasion process. We suggest that an enhanced defence against epiphytes after introduction is one reason for G. vermiculophylla’s invasion success. Our observation may also apply to other basibiont-epibiont and host-enemy systems, including plant-plant, plant-animal and animal-animal interactions, in aquatic environments and could be a key feature of bioinvasions.

    2. Host species and environmental variation can influence rhizobial community composition

      Holly B. Vuong, Peter H. Thrall and Luke G. Barrett

      Version of Record online: 23 NOV 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12687

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      Rhizobial genetic variation associated with Acacia host plants are highly diverse in natural environments. Our experimental study to examine the effects of host species and environment on the rhizobial community structure of two native Australian Acacia species indicated that host species identity was the key driving factor of rhizobial diversity. Although some environment by host species interactions were significant, no clear predictable patterns emerged.

  2. Essay Reviews

    1. Flammability as an ecological and evolutionary driver

      Juli G. Pausas, Jon E. Keeley and Dylan W. Schwilk

      Version of Record online: 21 NOV 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12691

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      We live on a flammable planet yet there is little consensus on the origin and evolution of flammability in our flora. Here we provide a novel framework to better understand variability in flammability across scales. We propose that flammability has three dimensions that shape three flammability strategies: the hot-flammable, the fast-flammable and the non-flammable.

  3. Standard Papers

    1. Separating sources of density-dependent and density-independent establishment limitation in invading species

      Erica N. Spotswood, Pierre Mariotte, Emily C. Farrer, Liana Nichols and Katharine N. Suding

      Version of Record online: 21 NOV 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12686

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      Successful establishment of invading species can be limited by both density-dependent and density-independent mechanisms. In particular, the strength of density-independent limitation may depend on natural gradients in abiotic factors. In this figure, we decompose establishment limitation into density-dependent and density-independent components, and we show both forms of limitation vary with soil moisture. At similar levels of seed input, high soil moisture (shown with solid lines) is associated with stronger intraspecific competition (density-dependent limitation, shown in grey) and weaker abiotic constraints (density-independent limitation, shown in black). At low soil moisture (shown with dashed lines), the effect is reversed. The varying strengths of establishment limitation suggest that patterns of invasion are likely to be uneven both in space and in time. Understanding how intraspecific competitive constraints and density-independent limitation vary with abiotic gradients can assist with predicting when invasions are likely to occur, information that can be harnessed in the development of better methods for control.

    2. ‘Are 3 °C too much?’: thermal niche breadth in Bromeliaceae and global warming

      Lilian-Lee B. Müller, Dirk C. Albach and Gerhard Zotz

      Version of Record online: 21 NOV 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12681

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      We determined germination-related thermal niche traits of 41 epiphytic bromeliad species and asked whether and how bromeliads will be affected by future climate warming. Surprisingly, bromeliads appear to benefit from increasing temperatures (Scenario A), while evidence for phylogenetic niche conservatism in most assessed traits was found. Possible ontogenetic niche shifts could still lead to negative effects of increasing temperatures during later stages of ontogeny (Scenario B).

    3. Forty years of seagrass population stability and resilience in an urbanizing estuary

      Andrew O. Shelton, Tessa B. Francis, Blake E. Feist, Gregory D. Williams, Adam Lindquist and Philip S. Levin

      Version of Record online: 17 NOV 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12682

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      Changes in eelgrass occurrence occur at local scales as shown in two sites in Puget Sound. Compare 1981–1982 (left column) and 2011–2012 (right column) for two sites. Both areas of complete loss and substantial gain are evident over the scale of just a few kilometers.

    4. Bryophyte traits explain climate-warming effects on tree seedling establishment

      Signe Lett, Marie-Charlotte Nilsson, David A. Wardle and Ellen Dorrepaal

      Version of Record online: 17 NOV 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12688

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      Climatically driven changes in bryophyte species distribution may not only have knock-on effects on vascular plant establishment, but temperature effects on seedling performance are themselves moderated by bryophytes in a species-specific way. Bryophyte traits can serve as a useful tool for understanding and predicting these complex interactions.

    5. Influence of plant–pollinator interactions on the assembly of plant and hummingbird communities

      Marina Wolowski, Luísa G. Carvalheiro and Leandro Freitas

      Version of Record online: 10 NOV 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12684

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      Overall, we present a pathway to identify central ecological processes that may drive the assembly of plant–pollinator communities. We show that different processes related with pollination that vary in space and time may contribute to the assembly of the interdependent tropical communities of plants and pollinators. These findings highlight the importance of considering ecological interactions when evaluating community assembly processes.

    6. Instant death, slow death and the consequences of assumptions about prolonged dormancy for plant population dynamics

      Kirsi Alahuhta, Elizabeth Crone, Ailene Ettinger, Hilde Hens, Anne Jäkäläniemi and Juha Tuomi

      Version of Record online: 8 NOV 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12683

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      Assumptions about dormancy affect some, but not all predictions, about plant population dynamics. Nonetheless, if we are only interested in overall population viability, ad hoc models of prolonged dormancy are sufficient as a first step.

    7. Woody plant biomass and carbon exchange depend on elephant-fire interactions across a productivity gradient in African savanna

      Adam F. A. Pellegrini, Robert M. Pringle, Navashni Govender and Lars. O. Hedin

      Version of Record online: 8 NOV 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12668

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      Our results reveal a context-dependent interaction between fire and elephants as disturbance agents in savanna: the influence of fire on woody plants was sensitive to the abundance of elephants and diminished with increased plant productivity. In contrast, elephants were capable of shifting landscapes from relatively dense woodland to open savanna and exerted strong impacts irrespective of site conditions and plant productivity.

    8. Invasion success in polyploids: the role of inbreeding in the contrasting colonization abilities of diploid versus tetraploid populations of Centaurea stoebe s.l.

      Christoph Rosche, Isabell Hensen, Patrik Mráz, Walter Durka, Matthias Hartmann and Susanne Lachmuth

      Version of Record online: 25 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12670

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      Centaurea stoebe comprises two cytotypes: Diploids prevail over tetraploids in the native range, whereas exclusively tetraploids became invasive. We conducted a breeding experiment and found striking results that contribute to explaining this drastic cytotype shift. In particular, we highlight the considerably reduced inbreeding depression in tetraploids as compared to diploids, which may increase the probability of tetraploid founder populations to outlast phases of demographic disequilibrium.

    9. Differences in biotic interactions across range edges have only minor effects on plant performance

      Daniel S. W. Katz and Inés Ibáñez

      Version of Record online: 24 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12675

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      Survival of tree seedlings beyond current distributions is largely unrelated to differences in herbivory and disease.

  4. Corrigendum

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      Version of Record online: 24 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12679

  5. Standard Papers

    1. Effects of nitrogen deposition on reproduction in a masting tree: benefits of higher seed production are trumped by negative biotic interactions

      Michał Bogdziewicz, Elizabeth E. Crone, Michael A. Steele and Rafał Zwolak

      Version of Record online: 19 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12673

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      We studied reproduction of red oaks growing on long-term nitrogen addition experiment (>25 years) at Harvard Forest. We found that N-fertilized oaks produced up to ninefold more acorns than control trees. However, the net effect of N-addition was negative due to altered biotic interactions with pre-dispersal seed predators (weevils) and seed caching rodents, and lowered acorn germination rates.

  6. Retraction

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  7. Standard Papers

    1. Lagging behind: have we overlooked previous-year rainfall effects in annual grasslands?

      Joan Dudney, Lauren M. Hallett, Loralee Larios, Emily C. Farrer, Erica N. Spotswood, Claudia Stein and Katharine N. Suding

      Version of Record online: 17 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12671

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      Our study highlights the importance of previous-year precipitation in structuring annual grassland composition and suggests two important biotic pathways, seed rain and litter, that regulate lagged responses to rainfall. (Figure here illustrates how previous-year rainfall shifts community composition the following year.) Incorporating lagged effects into models of grassland diversity and productivity could improve predictions of climate change impacts in annual grasslands.

    2. Recovery following defoliation involves shifts in allocation that favour storage and reproduction over radial growth in black oak

      Erin Wiley, Brenda B. Casper and Brent R. Helliker

      Version of Record online: 17 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12672

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      Recovery following defoliation can involve substantial shifts in how trees allocate carbon between different functions, with carbohydrate storage and already initiated reproduction cycles being favoured relative to growth and new reproductive cycles.

    3. Community-level plant palatability increases with elevation as insect herbivore abundance declines

      Patrice Descombes, Jérémy Marchon, Jean-Nicolas Pradervand, Julia Bilat, Antoine Guisan, Sergio Rasmann and Loïc Pellissier

      Version of Record online: 17 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12664

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      Our results suggest that plant communities at higher elevation are composed of species that are generally more palatable for insect herbivores. Shift in plant palatability with elevation may thus be the outcome of a relaxation of the in situ herbivore pressure and changes in abiotic conditions.

    4. Effects of landscape configuration and composition on phylogenetic diversity of trees in a highly fragmented tropical forest

      Fabio Antonio R. Matos, Luiz Fernando S. Magnago, Markus Gastauer, João M. B. Carreiras, Marcelo Simonelli, João Augusto A. Meira-Neto and David P. Edwards

      Version of Record online: 17 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12661

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      Changes in mean pairwise distance (MPD) and standardized mean nearest taxon distance (sesMNTD) suggest that extirpation of species at edges or in highly fragmented landscapes increases the dominance of species within a subset of clades (phylogenetic clustering), likely those adapted to disturbance. Smaller patch sizes are phylogenetically diverse and overdispersed, probably due to an invasion of edge-adapted species. Conservation must enhance patch area and connectivity via forest restoration; pivotally, even small forest patches are important reservoirs of phylogenetic diversity in the highly threatened Brazilian Atlantic forest.

  8. Corrigendum

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  9. Standard Papers

    1. Slow decomposition of leaf litter from mature Fagus sylvatica trees promotes offspring nitrogen acquisition by interacting with ectomycorrhizal fungi

      Jean Trap, Marthe Akpa-Vinceslas, Pierre Margerie, Simon Boudsocq, Franck Richard, Thibaud Decaëns and Michaël Aubert

      Version of Record online: 12 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12665

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      We found that poorly decomposable leaf litter produced by mature beech (Fagus sylvatica) trees with ECM fungi together confer a competitive advantage to beech saplings over microbial decomposers for N. Increasing N retention within the recalcitrant N forms in soil was identified as a key mechanism by which beech alters soil N cycling with potential positive feedbacks on its acquisition by the plant.

    2. Evolution of plant defences along an invasion chronosequence: defence is lost due to enemy release – but not forever

      Michal Gruntman, Udi Segev, Gaétan Glauser and Katja Tielbörger

      Version of Record online: 12 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12660

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      We studied the evolution of the invasive plant Impatiens glandulifera across its invasion chronosequence. Our results suggest that while introduced populations initially evolve decreased herbivore resistance, herbivore recolonization over time can select for its recovery to pre-introduction levels. Photograph credit: Lara Braun.

    3. You have free access to this content
      Precipitation, not air temperature, drives functional responses of trees in semi-arid ecosystems

      Charlotte Grossiord, Sanna Sevanto, Henry D. Adams, Adam D. Collins, Lee T. Dickman, Natalie McBranch, Sean T. Michaletz, Elizabeth A. Stockton, Miguel Vigil and Nate G. McDowell

      Version of Record online: 11 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12662

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      Warming and drought will occur simultaneously in the future in many regions, but little is known about the responses of trees to reduced precipitation and increased temperature acting at once. In a semi-arid woodland, we assessed the responses in physiological and morphological foliar traits of pinon pine and juniper in response to three years of a 45% reduction in precipitation, a 4.8 °C increase in air temperature and their simultaneous effects. Our results indicate that in ecosystems where tree functioning is already highly limited by soil water availability, atmospheric warming as anticipated with climate change may have less impact on foliar trait responses than previously thought.

    4. Effects of pollination intensity on offspring number and quality in a wind-pollinated herb

      Anne-Marie Labouche, Shane A. Richards and John R. Pannell

      Version of Record online: 10 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12659

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      We assessed the effects of pollination intensity on both quantity and quality of progeny in a wind-pollinated herb. We found a reduction in pollen load and subsequent seed production with increasing distance to males, but only small effects on the performance of offspring. Pollen-limited females produced fewer but larger seeds, and offspring that subsequently performed better with gender-dependent effects.

    5. Spatial scale and intraspecific trait variability mediate assembly rules in alpine grasslands

      Loïc Chalmandrier, Tamara Münkemüller, Marie-Pascale Colace, Julien Renaud, Serge Aubert, Bradley Z. Carlson, Jean-Christophe Clément, Nicolas Legay, Gilles Pellet, Amélie Saillard, Sébastien Lavergne and Wilfried Thuiller

      Version of Record online: 6 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12658

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      Our study reveals how the combination of abiotic stress and biotic interactions shapes the functional diversity of alpine grasslands at different spatial scales, and highlights the importance of phenotype variation between individuals for community assembly processes at fine spatial scale. Our results suggest that studies analysing trait-based assembly rules but ignoring ITV and focusing on a single spatial scale are likely to miss essential features of community diversity patterns.

    6. Enhanced decomposition and nitrogen mineralization sustain rapid growth of Eucalyptus regnans after wildfire

      Feike A. Dijkstra, Meaghan Jenkins, Vivien de Rémy de Courcelles, Claudia Keitel, Margaret M. Barbour, Zachary E. Kayler and Mark A. Adams

      Version of Record online: 6 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12663

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      We found that mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) strongly enhanced microbial decomposition and nitrogen mineralization to facilitate its growth after a wildfire. At the ecosystem scale, the synergistic effects of plant growth and soil N mineralization need to be carefully assessed against costs to soil C for forests regenerating after disturbance.

    7. You have free access to this content
      Effects of species diversity on fine root productivity increase with stand development and associated mechanisms in a boreal forest

      Zilong Ma and Han Y. H. Chen

      Version of Record online: 6 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12667

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      Our results provide evidence for increasing positive diversity effects on fine root productivity with stand development in heterogeneous natural forests. Moreover, our results indicate that the increased positive diversity effects with stand development was the result of multiple mechanisms, including higher horizontal soil volume filling, a thicker forest floor layer for rooting, a higher magnitude of complementarity in nutrient-poor deep soil layers and stronger nutrient foraging towards soil layers with high nutrient concentrations in older than younger stands.

    8. Peak season carbon exchange shifts from a sink to a source following 50+ years of herbivore exclusion in an Arctic tundra ecosystem

      Mark J. Lara, David R. Johnson, Christian Andresen, Robert D. Hollister and Craig E. Tweedie

      Version of Record online: 4 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12654

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      This study evaluates how 50+ years of herbivore exclusion have impacted ecosystem function in an Alaskan Arctic tundra region. Results suggest (i) the measured response of herbivory may be dependent on the duration of experimental observation, and (ii) if negative trends in lemming populations persist in arctic tundra as reported elsewhere, the historically strong tundra carbon sink capacity may be severely reduced. Upscaled C-CO2eq for lemming absence (left) and presence (right), across a 421 km² region of the Barrow Peninsula. Red colours represent carbon loss, and green colours represent carbon uptake.

    9. Facilitated exploitation of pollination mutualisms: fitness consequences for plants

      Sarah K. Richman, Rebecca E. Irwin, Cherie J. Nelson and Judith L. Bronstein

      Version of Record online: 3 OCT 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12657

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      In pollination mutualisms, primary and secondary nectar robbers provide a clear example of a multiple-exploiter system. We tested the effects of primary and secondary robbing on the female fitness of Ipomopsis aggregata. Additional exploitation by secondary nectar robbers significantly reduced reproductive output. Our findings provide evidence that interacting with multiple exploiters can lead to increased negative effects for mutualists.

    10. Biotic drivers of seedling establishment in Neotropical savannas: selective granivory and seedling herbivory by leaf-cutter ants as an ecological filter

      Alan N. Costa, Heraldo L. Vasconcelos and Emilio M. Bruna

      Version of Record online: 28 SEP 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12656

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      Leaf-cutter ants may largely limit early seedling establishment of woody species by reducing seed availability and seedling survival with differential species-specific effects. Atta ants may therefore be acting as an ecological filter, which coupled with potential selectivity in foraging on reproductive life-history stages, may influence the relative abundance of different species and hence the structure and composition of Cerrado vegetation.

    11. 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.

    12. 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.

    13. 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.

    14. 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.

    15. 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.

    16. 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.

      Corrected by:

      Corrigendum: Corrigendum

      Version of Record online: 17 OCT 2016


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