Journal of Ecology

Cover image for Vol. 104 Issue 1

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

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

Impact Factor: 5.521

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2014: 12/145 (Ecology); 13/204 (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. 1 - 30
  1. Standard Papers

    1. Effects of plant functional group loss on soil biota and net ecosystem exchange: a plant removal experiment in the Mongolian grassland

      Dima Chen, Qingmin Pan, Yongfei Bai, Shuijin Hu, Jianhui Huang, Qibing Wang, Shahid Naeem, James J. Elser, Jianguo Wu and Xingguo Han

      Article first published online: 10 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12541

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      The shift of below-ground communities from a fungal-based to a bacterial-based energy channel as PFG richness decreases indicates that less diverse grassland ecosystems will have lower nutrient retention and hence be more sensitive to land use or climate change. The dominant effects of above-ground plant biomass and below-ground communities on NEE indicate that PFG loss resulting from land-use or climate change has the potential to reduce C sequestration in semi-arid grassland soils. These findings suggest that predictive models may need to consider the composition of above-ground and below-ground communities in order to accurately simulate the dynamics of CO2 fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems.

    2. Bolstered physical defences under nutrient-enriched conditions may facilitate a secondary foundational algal species in the South Pacific

      Sarah Joy Bittick, Rachel Joy Clausing, Caitlin Ryan Fong and Peggy Fong

      Article first published online: 8 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12539

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      We found a unique interaction where nutrients inhibit herbivory and facilitate Turbinaria ornata biomass accumulation. While concern is often placed on degradation of foundation species via anthropogenic change, instead here we show that anthropogenic change can facilitate a secondary foundation species. This facilitation may allow a secondary foundation species to better compete with the primary foundation species.

    3. Beyond climate: convergence in fast evolving sclerophylls in Cape and Australian Rhamnaceae predates the mediterranean climate

      Renske E. Onstein and H. Peter Linder

      Article first published online: 1 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12538

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      In this study, we integrate the fields of macroevolution and ecology and show that common climate is not enough to explain convergence and non-convergence of vegetation physiognomy in mediterranean-type ecosystems. In addition, low extinction rates may not only account for the ecological, but also for the floristic dominance of sclerophylly in the hyperdiverse Australian and Cape mediterranean-type ecosystems.

    4. You have full text access to this OnlineOpen article
      Seed dispersal by dabbling ducks: an overlooked dispersal pathway for a broad spectrum of plant species

      Merel B. Soons, Anne-Laure Brochet, Erik Kleyheeg and Andy J. Green

      Article first published online: 1 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12531

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      Dabbling ducks do not exclusively ingest seeds of wetland plants, which make up only 40% of the ingested species. Rather, they feed opportunistically on a wide cross section of plant species available across the landscapes they inhabit. Given the millions of ducks, the hundreds to thousands of seeds ingested per individual on a daily basis, and known gut passage survival rates, this results in vast numbers of seeds dispersed by ducks per day. Internal seed dispersal by dabbling ducks appears to be a major dispersal pathway for a far broader spectrum of plant species than previously considered.

    5. Recasting the dynamic equilibrium model through a functional lens: the interplay of trait-based community assembly and climate

      Jessy Loranger, Cyrille Violle, Bill Shipley, Sandra Lavorel, Anne Bonis, Pablo Cruz, Frédérique Louault, Grégory Loucougaray, François Mesléard, Nicole Yavercovski and Éric Garnier

      Article first published online: 1 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12536

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      Our findings quantitatively highlight the interplay between regional and local environmental gradients in driving community assembly. We demonstrate that, depending on climatic conditions, observed patterns of both taxonomic and functional community composition can be opposite to expected productivity–diversity and disturbance–diversity relationships. This emphasizes the relevance of multifaceted studies of biodiversity and the need for a more systematic quantification of regional controls in community assembly studies.

    6. Root functional parameters predict fine root decomposability at the community level

      Iván Prieto, Alexia Stokes and Catherine Roumet

      Article first published online: 1 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12537

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      Our results show that at the community level, root quality (lignin, lignin:N and root N) was the main driver of root decomposability with a smaller effect of the root economics spectrum. Changes in root quality (i.e. root functional parameters) across land use types and with soil depth strongly affected decomposability; agricultural intensification and shallow rooting resulted in higher decomposability rates.

    7. Microform-scale variations in peatland permeability and their ecohydrological implications

      Andy J. Baird, Alice M. Milner, Antony Blundell, Graeme T. Swindles and Paul J. Morris

      Article first published online: 25 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12530

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      We suggest that the acrotelm–catotelm model should be used cautiously; spatial variations in peatland permeability do not fit the simple patterns suggested by the model. To understand how peatlands as a whole function both hydrologically and ecologically, it is necessary to understand how patterns of peat physical properties and peatland vegetation develop and persist.

    8. Biotic resistance to tropical ornamental invasion

      Jennifer L. Bufford, Matthew H. Lurie and Curtis C. Daehler

      Article first published online: 20 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12534

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      Biotic resistance and species traits limit invasion of tropical ornamental plants in Hawaiian lowlands. By monitoring seedlings of invasive, casual and non-invasive species, we demonstrated biotic resistance due to plant neighbours, but not herbivores. We found evidence for barriers to invasion in some non-invasive and casual species, including low growth rate and survival, especially in the presence of neighbours.

    9. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi affect plant tolerance and chemical defences to herbivory through different mechanisms

      Leiling Tao, Aamina Ahmad, Jacobus C. de Roode and Mark D. Hunter

      Article first published online: 19 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12535

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      Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are plant symbiotic fungi, which can affect many plant traits. This study found that across six milkweed (Asclepias) species, AMF can affect plant tolerance and chemical defense to herbivores simultaneously through changes in basic plant physiology such as nutrient status, allocation patterns and growth rate.

    10. Linking functional diversity to resource availability and disturbance: a mechanistic approach for water-limited plant communities

      Jonathan Nathan, Yagil Osem, Moshe Shachak and Ehud Meron

      Article first published online: 17 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12525

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      Our model showcases how fundamental tradeoffs in plant traits may drive functional diversity and ecosystem function along environmental gradients. It offers a mechanism through which novel understandings can be obtained regarding the interplay between water stress, below- and above-ground competition and disturbance intensity and history. We discuss further model testing possibilities as well as required empirical work.

    11. You have full text access to this OnlineOpen article
      Consistent, small effects of treefall disturbances on the composition and diversity of four Amazonian forests

      Timothy R. Baker, Dilys M. Vela Díaz, Victor Chama Moscoso, Gilberto Navarro, Abel Monteagudo, Ruy Pinto, Katia Cangani, Nikolaos M. Fyllas, Gabriela Lopez Gonzalez, William F. Laurance, Simon L. Lewis, Jonathan Lloyd, Hans ter Steege, John W. Terborgh and Oliver L. Phillips

      Article first published online: 17 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12529

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      Understanding how the diversity of tropical forests responds to treefall disturbance events is important for understanding mechanisms of species coexistence and for predicting the future composition of these ecosystems. Previous studies have focussed on single sites and have contradictory results. By studying four sites in Amazonia, we demonstrate that these events have a consistent, but minor, role in maintaining the diversity of these ecosystems.

    12. Changes in assembly rules along a stress gradient from open dry grasslands to wetlands

      Barbara Lhotsky, Bence Kovács, Gábor Ónodi, Anikó Csecserits, Tamás Rédei, Attila Lengyel, Miklós Kertész and Zoltán Botta-Dukát

      Article first published online: 17 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12532

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      Our results partly support the stress-dominance hypothesis, but reveal that assembly rules are more complex. The relative importance of environmental ltering and limiting similarity depends on the trait and on the environmental conditions of the habitat. Traits related to resource use are generally limited by environmental ltering, and this restriction is weakening as conditions become more favourable, while traits related to regeneration are constrained by limiting similarity and are more diverse under harsh conditions.

    13. Temporal variability of a single population can determine the vulnerability of communities to perturbations

      Robert J. Mrowicki, Nessa E. O'Connor and Ian Donohue

      Article first published online: 17 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12533

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      Our results demonstrate that changes in the temporal variability of a single species can modify multiple aspects of both the structure and stability of natural communities and alter their responses to perturbations. However, the effects of consumer variability cannot be predicted without knowledge of the temporal pattern of density fluctuations. These findings have profound implications for our understanding of the effects of multiple disturbances on ecosystems.

    14. Herbivore intoxication as a potential primary function of an inducible volatile plant signal

      Nathalie Veyrat, Christelle Aurélie Maud Robert, Ted Christiaan Johannes Turlings and Matthias Erb

      Article first published online: 11 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12526

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      Indole is an herbivore-induced plant volatile that is a within-plant priming signal. Here, we show that indole is also a potent direct defence that decreases food consumption, plant damage and survival of caterpillars. We propose an evolutionary trajectory by which the release of a plant volatile as a direct defence precedes its use as a plant alert signal.

    15. You have full text access to this OnlineOpen article
      Effects of spatial plant–soil feedback heterogeneity on plant performance in monocultures

      E. R. Jasper Wubs and T. Martijn Bezemer

      Article first published online: 8 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12521

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      We manipulated the spatial plant–soil feedback heterogeneity in soils and found that plant performance was generally lower in soils with spatially heterogeneous feedback than predicted by soils with homogeneous feedback. In natural grasslands that have mixed plant communities conditioning the soil plant–soil feedback, effects on plant performance may therefore be more negative than what is predicted from pot experiments.

    16. From the individual to the landscape and back: time-varying effects of climate and herbivory on tree sapling growth at distribution limits

      Asier Herrero, Pablo Almaraz, Regino Zamora, Jorge Castro and José A. Hódar

      Article first published online: 7 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12527

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      Accounting for individual and temporal variability in ecological inference can improve the assessment of the relative importance of climate and herbivory on species distribution shifts. Increasing herbivore densities might limit positive growth responses to climate on saplings, constraining tree upward expansion. However, the spatially heterogeneous effect exerted by herbivory could result in diverse vegetation structures in ecotones.

    17. Soil nutrients influence growth response of temperate tree species to drought

      Mathieu Lévesque, Lorenz Walthert and Pascale Weber

      Article first published online: 7 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12519

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      Our results suggest that assessing tree responses to climate change without considering simultaneously soil properties and climate may be misleading since soil nutrients can influence growth response of trees to drought. A detailed analysis of the influence of the soil characteristics on growth responses of trees is necessary to understand the sensitivity of tree species to global climate change.

    18. When does intraspecific trait variation contribute to functional beta-diversity?

      Marko J. Spasojevic, Benjamin L. Turner and Jonathan A. Myers

      Article first published online: 7 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12518

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      Our study illustrates the importance of considering how two different components of scale, spatial extent and spatial grain, influence the contribution of intraspecific trait variation to patterns of functional β-diversity and inferred community assembly mechanisms across environmental gradients.

    19. The importance of autonomous selfing in preventing hybridization in three closely related plant species

      Rein Brys, Jannick van Cauwenberghe and Hans Jacquemyn

      Article first published online: 7 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12524

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      In plants that are able to self-fertilize, autonomous selfing has been hypothesized to function as an effective prevention mechanism against hybridization. In this study, we found that selfing in three related Centaurium species prevents them from interspecific gene flow. The association between the capacity to self-autonomously and hybrid vigour further suggests that selfing may foster post-zygotic costs following hybridization.

    20. Dynamics and persistence in a metacommunity centred on the plant Antirrhinum majus: theoretical predictions and an empirical test

      Coline C. Jaworski, Christophe Thébaud and Jérôme Chave

      Article first published online: 4 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12515

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      We combined field observations and a dynamic model to understand how spatial processes may affect a network composed of the flowering plant Antirrhinum majus, its cohort of pollinators, a seed-predator and its parasitoid. We suggest that the functioning of this metacommunity is more consistent with source-sink than patch metacommunity dynamics, highlighting the extent to which dispersal explains the persistence of the system.

    21. Elephant damage, not fire or rainfall, explains mortality of overstorey trees in Serengeti

      Thomas A. Morrison, Ricardo M. Holdo and T. Michael Anderson

      Article first published online: 4 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12517

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      This study examines drivers of overstorey tree mortality, top-kill and resprouting rates in African savannas. The work highlights the considerable role that chronic elephant herbivory plays in structuring savanna tree populations, irrespective of prevailing fire and rainfall conditions, and provides important vegetative context to the dramatic recent changes in savanna elephant densities in sub-Saharan Africa.

    22. Above-ground and below-ground responses to long-term nutrient addition across a retrogressive chronosequence

      David A. Wardle, Micael Jonsson, Jordan R. Mayor and Daniel B. Metcalfe

      Article first published online: 29 DEC 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12520

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      Our results show that forest understorey communities on islands of different fire history and thus stages of retrogression show relatively modest differences in how they respond to nutrient addition despite large changes in ecosystem productivity and soil fertility, probably because of high species turnover and adaptation of communities to infertile conditions. While increased nutrient availability (as expected through global change) may have important ecological consequences, these effects are likely, especially below-ground, to be rather similar across ecosystems that differ greatly in nutrient availability and productivity.

    23. A 350-million-year legacy of fire adaptation among conifers

      Tianhua He, Claire M. Belcher, Byron B. Lamont and Sim L. Lim

      Article first published online: 29 DEC 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12513

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      Coupled with strong evidence for frequent fire throughout the Permian-Carboniferous and fossil evidence for other fire-related traits, we conclude that many early conifers were serotinous in response to intense crown fires, indicating that fire may have had a major impact on the evolution of plant traits as far back as 350 Ma.

    24. Linking transient dynamics and life history to biological invasion success

      David T. Iles, Roberto Salguero-Gómez, Peter B. Adler and David N. Koons

      Article first published online: 29 DEC 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12516

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      Transient and long-term population dynamics are independent predictors of demographic performance that influence the viability of invading (i.e. small, unstable) populations subjected to strong effects of demographic stochasticity. Greater long-term population growth rates and disproportionately favourable transient dynamics may account for the commonly observed invasiveness of highly fecund species. Given the strong dependence of population viability on population growth and the wide range of transient responses among species, transient analysis may provide critical insights into the demographic correlates of biological invasion potential.

    25. Climate modulates the effects of tree diversity on forest productivity

      Tommaso Jucker, Daniel Avăcăriței, Ionuț Bărnoaiea, Gabriel Duduman, Olivier Bouriaud and David A. Coomes

      Article first published online: 29 DEC 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12522

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      Our results indicate that the shape and strength of the relationship between tree diversity and forest productivity depends critically on environmental context. Across Europe, tree diversity shows the greatest potential to positively influence forest productivity at either end of the latitudinal gradient, where adverse climatic conditions limit productivity and lead to the development of less densely packed stands.

    26. Regional and historical factors supplement current climate in shaping global forest canopy height

      Jian Zhang, Scott E. Nielsen, Lingfeng Mao, Shengbin Chen and Jens-Christian Svenning

      Article first published online: 17 DEC 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12510

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      This study confirms that forest canopy height is strongly controlled by current climate, but also provides evidence for an important supplementary role for regional–historical factors. This highlights the importance of considering evolutionary and biogeographic history for achieving a comprehensive understanding of forest ecosystem properties.

    27. Test of biotic and abiotic correlates of latitudinal variation in defences in the perennial herb Ruellia nudiflora

      Luis Abdala-Roberts, Xoaquín Moreira, Sergio Rasmann, Víctor Parra-Tabla and Kailen A. Mooney

      Article first published online: 17 DEC 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12512

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      Latitudinal variation in abiotic factors may drive concomitant patterns of variation in plant defences, independently of herbivory. Collectively, these findings highlight the need for assessing geographic variation in plant defences from a multi-factorial perspective, testing for the simultaneous influence of biotic and abiotic factors.

    28. Species patch size at seeding affects diversity and productivity responses in establishing grasslands

      Shannon E. Seahra, Kathryn A. Yurkonis and Jonathan A. Newman

      Article first published online: 17 DEC 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12514

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      Species interact over sub-metre scales in establishing tallgrass prairie and, once established, their patterns may change over time. Given these dynamics and the spatial scale of plant interactions, structured seeding patches may be used over traditional mixed seeding approaches to control species dominance and preserve seeded species diversity within grassland systems.

    29. Higher seed number compensates for lower fruit set in deceptive orchids

      Judit Sonkoly, Anna E. Vojtkó, Jácint Tökölyi, Péter Török, Gábor Sramkó, Zoltán Illyés and Attila Molnár V

      Article first published online: 14 DEC 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12511

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      Our results indicate that deceptive orchids can compensate for their lower fruit set by having more (but not larger) seeds in a fruit than rewarding species. These findings highlight possible ways in which plants can increase their reproductive success in face of pollinator limitation. We emphasize that fruit set in itself is an inappropriate measure of the reproductive success of orchids – the total number of seeds per shoot is a much better approximation.

    30. Producer diversity enhances consumer stability in a benthic marine community

      Aaron P. Ramus and Zachary T. Long

      Article first published online: 14 DEC 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12509

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      Theory predicts that a greater diversity of plant resources should support a greater diversity of consumers, but contemporary experiments emphasize cascading trophic regulation of marine biodiversity. Here, we show that the effects of producer diversity propagate directly upward to enhance consumer diversity and stabilize food webs via increased asynchrony. These results suggest that we may underestimate the importance of producer diversity for stabilizing higher trophic levels.

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