Journal of Ecology

Cover image for Vol. 102 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: 5.694

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2013: 12/140 (Ecology); 12/196 (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. Forum

    1. Refining the range of an importance index

      Antonio Mingo

      Article first published online: 25 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12328

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      The index of interaction importance (Iimp) has been considered until now to symmetrically range in the interval (−1, 1). Here, it is demonstrated that its maximum positive value is 0.5. As major issues regarding importance metrics are documented in literature, it is recommended that current approaches to measuring interaction importance be revised in depth.

  2. Standard Papers

    1. You have full text access to this OnlineOpen article
      Evidence for shifts to faster growth strategies in the new ranges of invasive alien plants

      Michelle R. Leishman, Julia Cooke and David M. Richardson

      Article first published online: 24 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12318

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      These results provide evidence that introduction of a plant species into a novel environment commonly results in a reduction in the top-down constraint imposed by herbivores on growth, allowing plants to shift towards a faster growth strategy which may result in an increase in population size and spread and consequently to invasive success.

    2. Tropical rabbitfish and the deforestation of a warming temperate sea

      Adriana Vergés, Fiona Tomas, Emma Cebrian, Enric Ballesteros, Zafer Kizilkaya, Panagiotis Dendrinos, Alexandros A. Karamanlidis, David Spiegel and Enric Sala

      Article first published online: 23 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12324

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      Range-shifting tropical rabbitfish (siganids) can severely reduce the biomass and biodiversity of temperate reefs at a scale of hundreds of kilometres. A shift from macroalgal dominance to barrens is mediated by the addition of functionally diverse herbivores that characterise tropical reefs. This work highlights the importance of assessing the functional traits of range-shifting species to determine potential mechanisms of impact on ecological communities.

    3. Loss of heterosis and family-dependent inbreeding depression in plant performance and resistance against multiple herbivores under drought stress

      Nadine Prill, James M. Bullock, Nicole M. van Dam and Roosa Leimu

      Article first published online: 18 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12327

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      Our results indicate that drought stress influences not only inbreeding depression (ID), but also heterosis. These findings shed new light on the combined effects of anthropogenic environmental change and the genetic consequences of habitat fragmentation on plants and their interactions with other organisms. Conservation programmes aiming to restore genetically degraded populations with the translocation of individuals between populations should consider environmental stress as a risk factor.

    4. You have full text access to this OnlineOpen article
      How exotic plants integrate into pollination networks

      Daniel B. Stouffer, Alyssa R. Cirtwill and Jordi Bascompte

      Article first published online: 18 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12310

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      By virtue of their interactions, it appears that exotic plants may provide a key service to a community's specialist pollinators as well as fill otherwise vacant ‘coevolutionary niches’.

    5. Experimentally linking disturbance, resources and productivity to diversity in forest ground-layer plant communities

      Julia I. Burton, David J. Mladenoff, Jodi A. Forrester and Murray K. Clayton

      Article first published online: 17 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12319

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      Our results show that richness increases to an asymptote after a critical threshold in disturbance severity initially. Decreases in species richness over time associated with increases in productivity may eventually result in the unimodal relationship predicted by the intermediate disturbance hypothesis. However, species composition continues to differ with canopy gap size, suggesting a range of canopy gap sizes is required to maintain the greatest diversity of plant species over broader spatial and temporal scales.

    6. You have full text access to this OnlineOpen article
      Conditions favouring hard seededness as a dispersal and predator escape strategy

      Torbjørn R. Paulsen, Göran Högstedt, Ken Thompson, Vigdis Vandvik and Sigrunn Eliassen

      Article first published online: 16 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12323

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      Water-impermeable seed coats are commonly considered a dormancy trait. However, rodent seed predators are often important seed dispersers and have the potential to exert strong selective pressures on seeds to evolve methods of avoiding detection. Hard seeds seem to do just that, and this work suggests that optimal seed survival in many environments with rodent seed predators is obtained by plants having a dimorphic soft and hard seed strategy.

    7. A novel mechanism for grazing lawn formation: large herbivore-induced modification of the plant–soil water balance

      Michiel P. Veldhuis, Ruth A. Howison, Rienk W. Fokkema, Elske Tielens and Han Olff

      Article first published online: 9 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12322

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      This study shows that large herbivores might form grazing lawns through previously underestimated effects on water balance. Thus, future studies on large herbivore effects on vegetation should increasingly focus on additional pathways of soil compaction and defoliation. While nutrient-based processes driving grazing lawn formation may operate during the wet season in savannas, we suggest that water balance-based processes are additionally important during the dry season.

    8. Seasonality of precipitation interacts with exotic species to alter composition and phenology of a semi-arid grassland

      Janet S. Prevéy and Timothy R. Seastedt

      Article first published online: 9 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12320

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      Our results indicate that altering the seasonality of precipitation can have large direct effects on plant community composition and phenology, as well as significant indirect effects, mediated through exotic species, on plant-available resources and plant interactions.

    9. Changes in plant community composition, not diversity, during a decade of nitrogen and phosphorus additions drive above-ground productivity in a tallgrass prairie

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

      Article first published online: 9 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12312

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      We found that a decade of N and P additions interacted to drive changes in plant community composition, which had large effects on ecosystem productivity but minimal effects on plant community diversity. The shift in species composition increased variability in ANPP as the new species composition responded more strongly to biennial burning compared with controls. Thus, increased inputs of N and P to terrestrial ecosystems have the potential to alter stability of ecosystem function over time, particularly within the context of natural disturbance regimes.

    10. Millennial disturbance-driven forest stand dynamics in the Eastern Canadian taiga reconstructed from subfossil logs

      Fabio Gennaretti, Dominique Arseneault and Yves Bégin

      Article first published online: 8 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12315

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      Photo from a helicopter of a typical area of the taiga zone in Eastern Canada showing a mosaic of spruce-lichen woodlands of various postfire ages, along with numerous lakes and peatlands.

    11. Environmental perturbation, grazing pressure and soil wetness jointly drive mountain tundra toward divergent alternative states

      Patrick Saccone, Tuija Pyykkonen, Anu Eskelinen and Risto Virtanen

      Article first published online: 8 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12316

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      Our long-term experiment reveals that environmental perturbation, grazing and soil wetness exhibit joint effects that induce divergent trajectories of tundra plant communities. We suggest that a strong environmental perturbation triggers mountain tundra heath community to move away from its equilibrium state. The outcome of this shift depends on the interplay between grazing pressure and soil wetness that drive tundra plant communities toward divergent alternative states.

    12. Carbon isotopic signatures of soil organic matter correlate with leaf area index across woody biomes

      Brenton Ladd, Pablo L. Peri, David A. Pepper, Lucas C. R. Silva, Douglas Sheil, Stephen P. Bonser, Shawn W. Laffan, Wulf Amelung, Alf Ekblad, Peter Eliasson, Hector Bahamonde, Sandra Duarte-Guardia and Michael Bird

      Article first published online: 5 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12309

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      Our results demonstrate that δ13CSOM values can provide spatially explicit estimates of leaf area index (LAI) and could therefore serve as a surrogate for productivity and water use. While δ13CSOM has traditionally been used to reconstruct the relative abundance of C3 versus C4 species, the results of this study demonstrate that within stable C3- or C4-dominated biomes, δ13CSOM can provide additional insights. The fact that LAI is strongly correlated to δ13CSOM may allow for a more nuanced interpretation of ecosystem properties of palaeoecosystems based on palaeosol 13C values.

    13. Growth and carbon relations of temperate deciduous tree species at their upper elevation range limit

      Armando Lenz, Yann Vitasse, Günter Hoch and Christian Körner

      Article first published online: 1 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12307

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      Temperature and the length of the growing season are regarded as major determinants of tree growth in temperate climate. We asked which of the two factors does have a larger impact in deciduous tree species near the upper elevational range limit. We demonstrate that temperature has a strong effect on wood formation, while the length of the growing season is negligible for radial stem growth at high elevation.

    14. Shoot competition, root competition and reproductive allocation in Chenopodium acuminatum

      Ping Wang, Jacob Weiner, James F. Cahill Jr, Dao Wei Zhou, Hong Feng Bian, Yan Tao Song and Lian Xi Sheng

      Article first published online: 1 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12313

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      Our results demonstrated that shoot competition affects the observed pattern of reproductive allometry among individuals in the field, and this has implications for the fitness of competing plants. The steeper log R–log V slope of populations competing above ground may intensify the role of directional selection under light competition, making the effects of shoot competition more important than those of root competition for the evolution of weeds in fertile environments.

    15. Resistance and resilience to changing climate and fire regime depend on plant functional traits

      Neal J. Enright, Joseph B. Fontaine, Byron B. Lamont, Ben P. Miller and Vanessa C. Westcott

      Article first published online: 1 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12306

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      We quantified the effects of more frequent fire and lower rainfall - projected to occur under a warming and drying climate - on population responses of shrub species in biodiverse Mediterranean- type shrublands. A 20% reduction in post-fire winter rainfall (essential for seedling recruitment) is predicted to increase the minimum inter-fire interval required for self-replacement by 50%, placing both fire-killed and resprouting species at risk of decline. Heightened wildfire suppression and lengthened intervals for prescribed fire may best support the in situ persistence of perennial plant species. This contrasts with the view that more managed fire may be needed to mitigate wildfire risk as climate warms.

  3. Essay Reviews

    1. Disentangling the drivers of context-dependent plant–animal interactions

      John L. Maron, Kathryn C. Baer and Amy L. Angert

      Article first published online: 1 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12305

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      Our understanding of the underlying drivers of context-dependent plant–animal interactions is currently not well developed. Progress in this area is essential to better predict when and where species interactions will alter the responses of plant populations to environmental changes as well as to develop more robust theory. Experiments aimed at explicitly exploring the role of abiotic factors in mediating the population-level impact of pollen limitation and herbivory could determine the extent to which variation in the abiotic environment predictably shifts the outcome of these interactions.

  4. Standard Papers

    1. A prominent stepwise advance of the tree line in north-east Finland

      Tuomas Aakala, Pertti Hari, Sigrid Dengel, Sarah L. Newberry, Toshie Mizunuma and John Grace

      Article first published online: 26 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12308

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      Our study demonstrates a peculiar stepwise advance of a tree line in northern Fennoscandia. A positive relationship between individual tree growth and temperature was not reflected at the population level, and factors deemed important in earlier studies could not explain the advance. These findings suggest complex tree line dynamics, in which biotic agents may mediate tree line responses to environmental change.

    2. Direct and indirect impacts of climate change on microbial and biocrust communities alter the resistance of the N cycle in a semiarid grassland

      Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo, Fernando T. Maestre, Cristina Escolar, Antonio Gallardo, Victoria Ochoa, Beatriz Gozalo and Ana Prado-Comesaña

      Article first published online: 26 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12303

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      Our results indicate that climate change will have negative direct and indirect (i.e. through changes in biocrust and microbial communities) impacts on the resistance of the N cycle in dryland soils. While biocrusts can play an important role slowing down the impacts of climate change on the N cycle due to their positive and continued effects on the resistance of multiple variables from the N cycle, such change will progressively alter N cycling in biocrust-dominated ecosystems, enhancing both N availability and inorganic N dominance.

    3. Long-term expansion of juniper populations in managed landscapes: patterns in space and time

      Cristina García, Eva Moracho, Ricardo Díaz-Delgado and Pedro Jordano

      Article first published online: 20 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12297

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      Photointerpretation of aerial images shows that the influence of dispersal limitation versus factors mediating competitive responses changes throughout colonization stages. Whereas dispersal limitation is the main factor influencing colonization at early stages, competition for local resources controls population growth at later stages. Therefore, long-term studies are required to capture the overall combined influence of key ecological factors in shaping long-term spatial demographic trends.

    4. Canopy facilitates seaweed recruitment on subtidal temperate reefs

      Scott Bennett and Thomas Wernberg

      Article first published online: 11 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12302

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      Synthesis. Positive interactions and stress amelioration play an important and previously unrecognised role in determining the recruitment success and viability of seaweeds in subtidal marine ecosystems. These results challenge long held paradigms about the general importance of canopy competition and force a rethink of how seaweed interactions affect habitat resilience to disturbances in subtidal ecosystems.

    5. Fire-regime complacency and sensitivity to centennial-through millennial-scale climate change in Rocky Mountain subalpine forests, Colorado, USA

      Philip E. Higuera, Christy E. Briles and Cathy Whitlock

      Article first published online: 8 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12296

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      Fire history in Rocky Mountain subalpine forests reveals complacency and sensitivity to changing vegetation and hydroclimate over the past 6000 years. Results suggest that climate change may impact fire severity more so than fire frequency in these systems, through direct and indirect impacts on vegetation, fuels, and fuel moisture.

    6. Extreme climate events lower resilience of foundation seagrass at edge of biogeographical range

      Matthew W. Fraser, Gary A. Kendrick, John Statton, Renae K. Hovey, Andrea Zavala-Perez and Diana I. Walker

      Article first published online: 6 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12300

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      We show a drastic ecological response (defoliation) to two concurrent extreme events – a marine heatwave and flood - in a foundation seagrass species near its biogeographical range limit at the Shark Bay World Heritage Site. Where climatic events overlap, ecological responses are likely to be more extreme, particularly in ecosystems where foundation species exist near low latitude range limits.

    7. Species richness–productivity relationships of tropical terrestrial ferns at regional and local scales

      Michael Kessler, Laura Salazar, Jürgen Homeier and Jürgen Kluge

      Article first published online: 1 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12299

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      We evaluate the relation of diversity and productivity and related hypotheses by assessing species richness of ferns at two spatial scales (local, regional) and two levels of productivity (ecosystem, ferns). Only fern, but not ecosystem productivity, shows relations to fern diversity, positive at regional, but negative at local scales. This indicates a strong influence of competition on diversity at local scales.


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