ResearchPad - ecosystems https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Sustainability management of short-lived freshwater fish in human-altered ecosystems should focus on adult survival]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7859 Fish populations globally are susceptible to endangerment through exploitation and habitat loss. We present theoretical simulations to explore how reduced adult survival (age truncation) might affect short-lived freshwater fish species in human-altered contemporary environments. Our simulations evaluate two hypothetical "average fish" and five example fish species of age 1 or age 2 maturity. From a population equilibrium baseline representing a natural, unaltered environment we impose systematic reductions in adult survival and quantify how age truncation affects the causes of variation in population growth rate. We estimate the relative contributions to population growth rate arising from simulated temporal variation in age-specific vital rates and population structure. At equilibrium and irrespective of example species, population structure (first adult age class) and survival probability of the first two adult age classes are the most important determinants of population growth. As adult survival decreases, the first reproductive age class becomes increasingly important to variation in population growth. All simulated examples show the same general pattern of change with age truncation as known for exploited, longer-lived fish species in marine and freshwater environments. This implies age truncation is a general potential concern for fish biodiversity across life history strategies and ecosystems. Managers of short-lived, freshwater fishes in contemporary environments often focus on supporting reproduction to ensure population persistence. However, a strong focus on water management to support reproduction may reduce adult survival. Sustainability management needs a focus on mitigating adult mortality in human-altered ecosystems. A watershed spatial extent embracing land and water uses may be necessary to identify and mitigate causes of age truncation in freshwater species. Achieving higher adult survival will require paradigm transformations in society and government about water management priorities.

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<![CDATA[The applicability of recreation-grade GNSS receiver (GPS watch, Suunto Ambit Peak 3) in a forested and an open area compared to a mapping-grade receiver (Trimble Juno T41)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N8984bd8b-66a6-4b6e-8af7-92a53859b107

Due to developments in global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and the miniaturization of their components, the usage of Global Positioning System (GPS) is no longer restricted to professional applications, but has become available in various consumer type devices, such as wristwatches. These commercial devices, however, were primarily designed for tracking activities in predominately urban settings and their accuracy has not been tested in forested areas. In this study, we present an assessment of the positional accuracy of a GPS watch (Ambit Peak 3, Suunto, Finland) under different forest cover types, seasons and meteorological conditions within the Whitehall Forest GPS Test Site located in Athens, Georgia, USA. As a standard of comparison, the performance of the GPS watch measurements was juxtaposed to that of a mapping-grade receiver (Juno T41, Trimble Inc., USA). In this study, we analyzed the differences between the determined and control positions using root-mean-square-error (RMSE), along with the distribution of observed positions through the standard deviational ellipse. The results suggest that the seasonal variations contributed to a statistically significant impact on the RMSE values for the GPS watch. However, there were no statistically significant differences in horizontal position accuracy by forest cover-type when using the GPS watch. Furthermore, no significant differences were found in horizontal position accuracy during the leaf-off period between the RMSE values for the GPS watch and those of the mapping-grade receiver. Lastly, the positional accuracies for both types of receivers were found to be weakly, but significantly correlated with fluctuations in air temperature and absolute humidity.

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<![CDATA[Impact of confinement in vehicle trunks on decomposition and entomological colonization of carcasses]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nffbdbe54-85a9-48b9-9e05-57433aec6303

In order to investigate the impact of confinement in a car trunk on decomposition and insect colonization of carcasses, three freshly killed pig (Sus scrofa domesticus Erxleben) carcasses were placed individually in the trunks of older model cars and deployed in a forested area in the southwestern region of British Columbia, Canada, together with three freshly killed carcasses which were exposed in insect-accessible protective cages in the same forest. Decomposition rate and insect colonization of all carcasses were examined twice a week for four weeks. The exposed carcasses were colonized immediately by Calliphora latifrons Hough and Calliphora vomitoria (L.) followed by Lucilia illustris (Meigen), Phormia regina (Meigen) and Protophormia terraenovae (R.-D.) (Diptera: Calliphoridae). There was a delay of three to six days before the confined carcasses were colonized, first by P. regina, followed by Pr. terraenovae. These species represented the vast majority of blow fly species on the confined carcasses. Despite the delay in colonization, decomposition progressed much more rapidly in two of the confined carcasses in comparison with the exposed carcasses due to the greatly increased temperatures inside the vehicles, with the complete skeletonization of two of the confined carcasses ocurring between nine and 13 days after death. One confined carcass was an anomaly, attracting much fewer insects, supporting fewer larval calliphorids and decomposing much more slowly than other carcasses, despite similarly increased temperatures. It was later discovered that the vehicle in which this carcass was confined had a solid metal fire wall between the passenger area and the trunk, which served to reduce insect access and release of odors. These data may be extremely valuable when analyzing cadavers found inside vehicle trunks.

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<![CDATA[Do railway lines affect the distribution of woodland birds during autumn?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N5f69b466-8155-4760-b7fb-9a995be0d1c7

Research results on the impact of railway noise on birds show a variety of bird responses. These behaviours are often different from those exhibited by birds occupying habitats along tarred roads. Knowledge of this subject is still incomplete. We attempted to define the influence of a heavily transited railway line on bird communities at stopover sites near the tracks during the autumn migration period. Birds were counted using the point method at 45 observation points located at three distances (30 m, 280 m, 530 m) from the tracks. At each point we determined the habitat parameters and the intensity of noise. A total of 614 individuals from 29 species were recorded on the study plot. The results of our observations indicate that the railway line does not adversely affect woodland birds during the autumn migration. The results showed that the abundance of birds and the species richness were actually the highest near the railway line. Species foraging on invertebrates preferred the neighbourhood of the tracks. The number of the most common species did not differ widely in relation to distance from the tracks. These data may be helpful in planning and managing the environment in the context of bird conservation, protection from railway noise and collisions with trains.

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<![CDATA[Considering the Role of Adaptive Evolution in Models of the Ocean and Climate System]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nfe9152c8-e79c-4817-9ec2-593d8a0ca732

Abstract

Numerical models have been highly successful in simulating global carbon and nutrient cycles in today's ocean, together with observed spatial and temporal patterns of chlorophyll and plankton biomass at the surface. With this success has come some confidence in projecting the century‐scale response to continuing anthropogenic warming. There is also increasing interest in using such models to understand the role of plankton ecosystems in past oceans. However, today's marine environment is the product of billions of years of continual evolution—a process that continues today. In this paper, we address the questions of whether an assumption of species invariance is sufficient, and if not, under what circumstances current model projections might break down. To do this, we first identify the key timescales and questions asked of models. We then review how current marine ecosystem models work and what alternative approaches are available to account for evolution. We argue that for timescales of climate change overlapping with evolutionary timescales, accounting for evolution may to lead to very different projected outcomes regarding the timescales of ecosystem response and associated global biogeochemical cycling. This is particularly the case for past extinction events but may also be true in the future, depending on the eventual degree of anthropogenic disruption. The discipline of building new numerical models that incorporate evolution is also hugely beneficial in itself, as it forces us to question what we know about adaptive evolution, irrespective of its quantitative role in any specific event or environmental changes.

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<![CDATA[Sap flow of Salix psammophila and its principal influencing factors at different slope positions in the Mu Us desert]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N9e08a49c-6957-422b-bc2c-73a7e35a95db

The changes in sap flow of Salix psammophila growing on a gentle slope (lower slope, P1), a middle slope (P2), and an upper slope (P3), and the response of sap flow to meteorological factors at the different slope positions were studied using the continuous and synchronized observations, the instrument were wrapped stem flowmeter EMS 62 sap-flow heat-balance-based system and the LSI-LASTEM automatic weather station. The results revealed that the soil moisture content was the highest and the growth conditions of Salix psammophila were the best at P1, followed by P2. At P3, however, although good apical dominance was observed, the proportion of dead branches was the highest. Furthermore, the daily variation patterns of sap flow on the three slopes presented as multi-peak bell-shaped curves. The daily accumulation changes in sap flow showed a trend of P1 > P3 > P2, and within the same diameter range, the sap flow at P1 was significantly different from that at P2 and P3, whereas the sap flow at P2 and P3 did not vary significantly. All the three slopes showed a significant and positive correlation with photosynthetically active radiation, atmospheric temperature, and vapor pressure difference, and a significant and negative correlation with relative humidity; however, the degrees of correlation varied slightly. The stepwise regression analysis showed that, at different slopes, different variables were selected for different branch diameters, but photosynthetically active radiation and atmospheric temperature played dominant roles on all slopes. This study reveals the sap flow pattern of Salix psammophila on different slopes and its response mechanism to meteorological factors, which was essential for understanding the restoration ability, physiological adaptability, and ecosystem stability of Salix psammophila communities.

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<![CDATA[Valuing and mapping cork and carbon across land use scenarios in a Portuguese montado landscape]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8accd7d5eed0c484990136

The ecosystem services approach can inform decision-making by accounting for both short- and long-term benefits from different land use options. Here we used the InVEST toolkit to quantify and map key ecosystem services at the largest publicly-owned agro-silvo-pastoral farmstead in Portugal–a site representative for the montado landscape. We analyzed how Provisioning (cork production) and Regulating & Maintenance (carbon storage and sequestration) services would be affected under three land use change scenarios, which were developed in collaboration with the forest manager of the study area: Cattle Intensification, Forest Improvement, and Residential Development. Results show that increasing cattle or residential development would deliver substantially lower levels of services. We find that extensive management, improvements to forest quality, and promotion of traditional livestock grazing would provide the highest levels of assessed ecosystem services, resulting in 13.5% more carbon storage (worth between $0.34-$7.79 million USD depending on carbon price) and 62.7% more cork production (total value of USD $3.5 million) than the current land use. However, a shift in economic incentives to make sustainable cork harvesting and traditional low-density grazing of smaller ruminants like sheep and goats profitable are likely needed to reward traditional land stewardship and help support this iconic Mediterranean landscape in the future.

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<![CDATA[Roads and livelihood activity choices in the Greater Serengeti Ecosystem, Tanzania]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8c1940d5eed0c484b4d270

Road development is occurring at an unprecedented rate in important conservation areas in tropical countries with limited understanding of how local people will adjust their livelihood activities in response. We use a discrete choice experiment to explore the effect of road development on respondents ex-ante preferences for changes in livelihood activities—crop and livestock production, hunting and trading bushmeat, and business and wage employment—under different incentives—provision of loans, livestock and crop extension services–in scenarios with reduced travel time to nearest district town in the Greater Serengeti Ecosystem in Tanzania. We test four hypotheses about the effects of roads with opposing implication for conservation. Hypothesis 1 predicts that increased market access will lead to intensification of crop and livestock production activities (achieved through extension services and loans), and Hypothesis 2 that market access will facilitate the development of non-farm Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) providing new livelihood opportunities (e.g. business income and wage employment)–both reducing environmental pressure. Hypotheis 3 on the other hand predicts that improved market access will lead to extensification and expansion of crop and livestock production activities, while Hypotheis 4 suggests that it will encourage exploitation of environmental goods (here in the form of hunting and trading bushmeat and illegal grazing inside protected areas)–both increasing environmental pressure. We find increasing preferences for more cropland and more cattle as travel time to market is reduced but no preference for increased allocation of household members to hunting and trading bushmeat supporting hypothesis 3 while contradicting hypothesis 4. However, second-order effects might support hypothesis 4 as we find aversion towards decreasing effort invested in hunting and trading bushmeat. Preferences for increased cropland and livestock may furthermore interact to increase land use change and illegal grazing inside protected areas. Crop extension services had a negative modifying effect on preferences for more cropland (supporting hypothesis 1) while livestock extension services had a positive modifying effect on preferences for more cattle (contradicting hypothesis 1). Providing loans had a negative modifying effect on preferences for increasing cropland and number of cattle. Marginal rates of substitution suggest that 950,000 TSH borrowed at a 10% interest rate will reduce preferences for more cropland and cattle by 11.8 and 38.4% respectively. Crop extension services reduce preferences for more cropland by 27% whereas livestock extension services increase preferences for more cattle by 104%. Contradicting Hypothesis 2, we found no preference for increasing the number of households members engaged in business and wage employment in response to reduced travel time. Targeted efforts to increase the educational level as well as entrepreneurship skills in the GSE could promote engagement in the labour market and development of business enterprises diverting focus from traditional activities such as farming and livestock production and hence reducing pressure on the ecosystem.

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<![CDATA[It’s a trap: Optimizing detection of rare small mammals]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8823a9d5eed0c484638d89

Improving detection probabilities for rare species is critical when assessing presence or habitat associations. Our goal was to create a new small mammal trapping protocol that improved detection of rare species, such as the olive-backed pocket mouse (Perognathus fasciatus). We used three trap and bait types and trapped an area 4.4 times larger than the standard grid. We also assessed the effect of captures of non-target species on detection probability of pocket mice. Regardless of species, trap success was higher for Havaharts. We found that bait and trap type selection varied significantly by species, with pocket mice showing strongest selection for Havahart traps baited with bird seed. Increasing grid size, while maintaining a similar trapping effort, resulted in higher detection probability, although our analyses showed that effective grids can be about three-quarters of the size we use to achieve similar results. We were also able to demonstrate that by deploying a combination of different traps and baits it is possible to overcome the potential effect of non-target species (e.g., deer mice, Peromyscus maniculatus) on the detection probability of pocket mice. Our results show that simple changes to standard small-mammal trapping methods can dramatically increase the detectability of rare and elusive small mammals. Increasing detection probability of rare components of a community can improve the results and understanding of future studies.

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<![CDATA[Human disturbance impacts the integrity of sacred church forests, Ethiopia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8977abd5eed0c4847d32dd

Land-use change can have profound effects on forest communities, compromising seedling recruitment and growth, and long-term persistence of forests on the landscape. Continued forest conversion to agriculture causes forest fragmentation which decreases forest size, increases edge effects and forest isolation, all of which negatively impact forest health. These fragmentation effects are magnified by human use of forests, which can compromise the continued persistence of species in these forests and the ability of the forests to support the communities that depend on them. We examined the extent and influence of human disturbance (e.g. weedy taxa, native and exotic tree plantations, clearings, buildings) on the ecological status of sacred church forests in the northern highlands of South Gondar, Ethiopia and hypothesized that disturbance would have a negative effect. We found that disturbance was high across all forests (56%) and was negatively associated with tree species richness, density, and biomass and seedling richness and density. Contrary to expectation, we found that forests < 15.5 ha show no difference in disturbance level with distance from population center. Based on our findings, we recommend that local conservation strategies not only protect large forests, but also the small and highly used forests in South Gondar which are critical to the needs of local people, including preserving large trees for seed sources, removing exotic and weedy species from forests, and reducing clearings and trails within forests.

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<![CDATA[Determinants of the little auk (Alle alle) breeding colony location and size in W and NW coast of Spitsbergen]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c89770ad5eed0c4847d2301

Many seabirds breed in large aggregations, making it difficult to estimate their population size and habitat preferences. This knowledge is particularly important considering their function in food webs and ecosystem services. In this study, we investigated the factors affecting distribution and abundance of the little auk Alle alle, a seabird considered a keystone species of the Arctic ecosystem. We performed the study on the W and the NW coast of Spitsbergen. Using Generalized Additive Models (GAMs) and Conditional Inference Tree (CIT) we examined factors related to presence/absence and size (estimated number of breeding pairs) of the little auk colonies. We also tested the nesting preferences for geographical features such as aspect, slope angle, altitude, solar radiation, rock type, and distance to foraging grounds. Our findings indicate that the occurrence of little auk breeding colonies is non-random and highly attributed to environmental factors. The probability of colony occurrence was significantly associated with altitude (negative relationship; preference to sites situated lower), solar radiation (positive relationship; the higher radiation, the more likely colony occurrence) and slope (positive relationship; the steeper a slope, the more likely colony occurrence), whilst aspect appeared non-significant (though the probability of colony occurrence peaked at southern slopes). Colony size was significantly associated with rock type (larger colonies in amphibolite and quartzite). The distance to foraging grounds did not appear to affect the probability of colony occurrence and size, implying that birds may choose optimal breeding sites at the cost of longer foraging flights. We estimated the Spitsbergen little auk breeding population at 728 529 (5–95% CI: 479 312–986 352). Spitsbergen comprises ca 1.9% (95% CI: 1.2%–2.7%) of the world breeding population and represents the third most important breeding area for the species, following the W and the E coast of Greenland.

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<![CDATA[Long-term exposure to more frequent disturbances increases baseline carbon in some ecosystems: Mapping and quantifying the disturbance frequency-ecosystem C relationship]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c785015d5eed0c484007c44

Disturbance regimes have a major influence on the baseline carbon that characterizes any particular ecosystem. Often regimes result in lower average regional baseline C (compared to those same systems if the disturbance processes were lessened/removed). However, in infrequently disturbed systems the role of disturbance as a “background” process that influences broad-scale, baseline C levels is often neglected. Long-term chronosequences suggest disturbances in these systems may serve to increase regional biomass C stocks by maintaining productivity. However, that inference has not been tested spatially. Here, the large forested system of southeast Alaska, USA, is utilized to 1) estimate baseline regional C stocks, 2) test the fundamental disturbance-ecosystem C relationship, 3) estimate the cumulative impact of disturbances on baseline C. Using 1491 ground points with carbon measurements and a novel way of mapping disturbance regimes, the relationship between total biomass C, disturbance exposure, and climate was analyzed statistically. A spatial model was created to determine regional C and compare different disturbance scenarios. In this infrequently disturbed ecosystem, higher disturbance exposure is correlated with higher biomass C, supporting the hypothesis that disturbances maintain productivity at broad scales. The region is estimated to potentially contain a baseline 1.21–1.52 Pg biomass C (when unmanaged). Removal of wind and landslides from the model resulted in lower net C stocks (-2 to -19% reduction), though the effect was heterogeneous on finer scales. There removal of landslides alone had a larger effect then landslide and wind combined removal. The relationship between higher disturbance exposure and higher biomass within the broad ecosystem (which, on average, has a very low disturbance frequency) suggest that disturbances can serve maintain higher levels of productivity in infrequently disturbed but very C dense ecosystems. Carbon research in other systems, especially those where disturbances are infrequent relative to successional processes, should consider the role of disturbances in maintaining baseline ecosystem productivity.

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<![CDATA[Applicability of personal laser scanning in forestry inventory]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c803c6ad5eed0c484ad8913

Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology has been widely used in forestry surveys in the form of airborne laser scanning (ALS), terrestrial laser scanning (TLS), and mobile laser scanning (MLS). The acquisition of important basic tree parameters (e.g., diameter at breast height and tree position) in forest inventory did not solve the problem of low measurement efficiency or weak GNSS signal under the canopy. A personal laser scanning (PLS) device combined with SLAM technology provides an effective solution for forest inventory under complex conditions with its light weight and flexible mobility. This study proposes a new method for calculating the volume of a cylinder using point cloud data obtained by a PLS device by fitting to a polygonal cylinder to calculate the diameter of the trunk. The point cloud data of tree trunks of different thickness were modeled using different fitting methods. The rate of correct tree trunk detection was 93.3% and the total deviation of the estimations of tree diameter at breast height (DBH) was -1.26 cm. The root mean square errors (RMSEs) of the estimations of the extracted DBH and the tree position were 1.58 cm and 26 cm, respectively. The survey efficiency of the personal laser scanning (PLS) device was 30m2/min for each investigator, compared with 0.91m2/min for the field survey. The test demonstrated that the PLS device combined with the SLAM algorithm provides an efficient and convenient solution for forest inventory.

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<![CDATA[Available energy fluxes drive a transition in the diversity, stability, and functional structure of microbial communities]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c63393dd5eed0c484ae62f0

A fundamental goal of microbial ecology is to understand what determines the diversity, stability, and structure of microbial ecosystems. The microbial context poses special conceptual challenges because of the strong mutual influences between the microbes and their chemical environment through the consumption and production of metabolites. By analyzing a generalized consumer resource model that explicitly includes cross-feeding, stochastic colonization, and thermodynamics, we show that complex microbial communities generically exhibit a transition as a function of available energy fluxes from a “resource-limited” regime where community structure and stability is shaped by energetic and metabolic considerations to a diverse regime where the dominant force shaping microbial communities is the overlap between species’ consumption preferences. These two regimes have distinct species abundance patterns, different functional profiles, and respond differently to environmental perturbations. Our model reproduces large-scale ecological patterns observed across multiple experimental settings such as nestedness and differential beta diversity patterns along energy gradients. We discuss the experimental implications of our results and possible connections with disorder-induced phase transitions in statistical physics.

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<![CDATA[Identification of French Guiana sand flies using MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry with a new mass spectra library]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5df366d5eed0c48458120f

Phlebotomine sand flies are insects that are highly relevant in medicine, particularly as the sole proven vectors of leishmaniasis. Accurate identification of sand fly species is an essential prerequisite for eco-epidemiological studies aiming to better understand the disease. Traditional morphological identification is painstaking and time-consuming, and molecular methods for extensive screening remain expensive. Recent studies have shown that matrix-assisted laser desorption and ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) is a promising tool for rapid and cost-effective identification of arthropod vectors, including sand flies. The aim of this study was to validate the use of MALDI-TOF MS for the identification of Northern Amazonian sand flies. We constituted a MALDI-TOF MS reference database comprising 29 species of sand flies that were field-collected in French Guiana, which are expected to cover many of the more common species of the Northern Amazonian region, including known vectors of leishmaniasis. Carrying out a blind test, all the sand flies tested (n = 157) with a log (score) threshold greater than 1.7 were correctly identified at the species level. We confirmed that MALDI-TOF MS protein profiling is a useful tool for the study of sand flies, including neotropical species, known for their great diversity. An application that includes the spectra generated here will be available to the scientific community in the near future via an online platform.

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<![CDATA[Biological soil crusts inhibit seed germination in a temperate pine barren ecosystem]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c76fe25d5eed0c484e5b5ce

Biological soil crusts (BSCs) are known to affect plants’ germination and seedling establishment in arid ecosystems, but their ecological role in more mesic climates is not so well-known. We tested the effects of moss-crusted versus uncrusted soils on seed germination dynamics in a temperate pine barren ecosystem. We conducted a 35-day laboratory assay of seed germination on moss-crusted soils versus uncrusted soils from the Albany (NY) Pine Bush Preserve. We compared total seed germination and the number of days to 50% of total germination of two herbaceous perennial forb species in each soil type. Three and five times more seeds germinated on uncrusted soil than on crusted soil for bush clover (Lespedeza capitata) and wild lupine (Lupinus perennis), respectively. Seeds of both species also germinated approximately 10 days earlier on uncrusted soil than on crusted soil. This study, and others in similar habitats, show that BSCs in mesic climates can influence germination and other early life-history stages of plants. We hope that further study of the interactions between BSCs and vascular plants in mesic climates will contribute to our understanding of the ecology of BSCs outside the arid and semiarid climates where they are more extensively studied.

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<![CDATA[Trait divergence and habitat specialization in tropical floodplain forests trees]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c706768d5eed0c4847c6fcb

Habitat heterogeneity of tropical forests is thought to lead to specialization in plants and contribute to the high diversity of tree species in Amazonia. One prediction of habitat specialization is that species specialized for resource-rich habitats will have traits associated with high resource acquisition and fast growth while species specialized for resource-poor habitats will have traits associated with high resource conservation and persistence but slow growth. We tested this idea for seven genera and for twelve families from nutrient-rich white-water floodplain forest (várzea) and nutrient-poor black-water (igapó) floodplain forest. We measured 11 traits that are important for the carbon and nutrient balance of the trees, and compared trait variation between habitat types (white- and black-water forests), and the effect of habitat and genus/family on trait divergence. Functional traits of congeneric species differed between habitat types, where white-water forest species invested in resource acquisition and productive tissues, whereas black-water forest species invested in resource conservation and persistent tissues. Habitat specialization is leading to the differentiation of floodplain tree species of white-water and black-water forests, thus contributing to a high diversity of plant species in floodplain forests.

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<![CDATA[Oil palm plantations in Peninsular Malaysia: Determinants and constraints on expansion]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c76fde3d5eed0c484e5afe5

Agricultural expansion is one of the leading causes of deforestation in the tropics and in Southeast Asia it is predominantly driven by large-scale production for international trade. Peninsular Malaysia has a long history of plantation agriculture and has been a predominantly resource-based economy where expanding plantations like those of oil palm continue to replace natural forests. Habitat loss from deforestation and expanding plantations threatens Malaysian biodiversity. Expanding industrial plantations have also been responsible for drainage and conversions of peatland forests resulting in release of large amounts of carbon dioxide. The demand for palm oil is expected to increase further and result in greater pressures on tropical forests. Given Malaysia’s high biophysical suitability for oil palm cultivation, it is important to understand patterns of oil palm expansion to better predict forest areas that are vulnerable to future expansion. We study natural forest conversion to industrial oil palm in Peninsular Malaysia between 1988 and 2012 to identify determinants of recent oil palm expansion using logistic regression and hierarchical partitioning. Using maps of recent conversions and remaining forests, we characterize agro-environmental suitability and accessibility for the past and future conversions. We find that accessibility to previously existing plantations is the strongest determinant of oil palm expansion and is significant throughout the study period. Almost all (> 99%) of the forest loss between 1988 and 2012 that has been converted to industrial oil palm plantations is within 1 km from oil palm plantations that have been established earlier. Although most forest conversions to industrial oil palm have been in areas of high biophysical suitability, there has been an increase in converted area in regions with low oil palm suitability since 2006. We find that reduced suitability does not necessarily restrict conversions to industrial oil palm in the region; however, lack of access to established plantations does.

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<![CDATA[Incorporating environmental costs of ecosystem service loss in political decision making: A synthesis of monetary values for Germany]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dca3ad5eed0c48452a911

Germany faces on-going degradation and biodiversity loss. As a consequence, goods and services provided by biodiversity for human well-being, so-called ecosystem services, are being lost. The associated economic costs and benefits are often unknown. To fill this gap, we conducted a literature review and developed a database of monetary values for the changes in ecosystem services that result from ecosystem change in Germany. In total, 109 monetary valuation studies of regulating and cultural ecosystem services were identified, with the majority focusing on forests and wetlands. In collaboration with valuation experts and the German Federal Environment Agency—Umweltbundesamt (UBA), we defined a set of criteria that economic valuation studies should meet in order to qualify for being used in decision making on national policies. Only 6 out of 109 valuation studies (5.5%) fulfilled the quality criteria for informing such decisions. Overall, monetary information on regulating and cultural ecosystem services is scattered and scarce compared to information on provisioning services, which is accounted for in detail in national statistics. This imbalance in information likely contributes to the distortion in land-use policies, giving preference to maximizing provisioning services in agricultural production and forestry, while neglecting the societal relevance of regulating and cultural services. Decision makers have to rely on only a few cost estimates that are scientifically robust, while being pragmatic to include also vague estimates in cases where data is lacking. The transferability of the monetary values included in our database depends on the biophysical and socio-economic site conditions as well as the decision context of the intended application. Case specific adjustments following guidance for benefit transfer are recommended. Given the lack of applicable studies, we call for more decision-relevant economic assessments. Even in cases where monetary estimates are available, we suggest decision makers to consider also other benefit information available to capture the multiple values ecosystems provide to humans.

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<![CDATA[Hidden fungal diversity from the Neotropics: Geastrum hirsutum, G. schweinitzii (Basidiomycota, Geastrales) and their allies]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c648cc2d5eed0c484c81713

Taxonomy of Geastrum species in the neotropics has been subject to divergent opinions among specialists. In our study, type collections were reassessed and compared with recent collections in order to delimit species in Geastrum, sect. Myceliostroma, subsect. Epigaea. A thorough review of morphologic features combined with barcode and phylogenetic analyses (ITS and LSU nrDNA) revealed six new species (G. neoamericanum, G. rubellum, G. brunneocapillatum, G. baculicrystallum, G. rubropusillum and G. courtecuissei). In additon, the presence of hairs on the exoperidium, a commonly used feature to diagnose Geastrum species, proved to be ineffective because it is a derived character within subsect. Epigaea.

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