ResearchPad - forests https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Effect of forest management on tree diversity in temperate ecosystem forests in northern Mexico]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_15742 An important challenge for silvicultural practices is the conservation of tree diversity while fulfilling the traditional objectives of forest management, most notably timber harvesting. The purpose of this study was to compare the tree diversity before and after the application of silvicultural treatments in a temperate forest in northern Mexico. Fifteen experimental plots, each measuring 2500 m2, were established to evaluate the immediate effect of four silvicultural treatments. These treatments were identified by their levels of management: intensive (clearcut, removal 100%), semi-intensive (removal of 59–61% of basal area), conservative (removal of 29–31% of basal area), and a control group. New forest guidelines, in contrast to conventional approaches, were applied to the semi-intensive and conservative treatments based on health and diversity conditions. Basal area, canopy cover, tree and total volume were measured in each plot. The Importance Value Index, alpha diversity, and evenness were estimated before and after treatments. Eighteen species belonging to five genera and five families were found in the study area. The species with the highest ecological values were Pinus durangensis, P. teocote, Quercus sideroxyla, and Quercus convallata with IVI numbers between 13.6 and 24.5%. Alpha diversity was intermediate (Margalef: 2.9 to 3.8), while dominance and evenness were above average compared to other studies (Simpson: 0.69 to 0.77; Shannon-Wiener: 1.44 to 1.6; Pielou: 0.76 to 0.85). The species evenness index in the conservative treatment was high (Sorensen, Jaccard, quantitative Sorensen and Morisita-Horn; 88 to 99%), although abundance decreased. Overall, there were no significant differences in IVI values and diversity indicators before and after treatments, with the exception of the clearcut treatment. When associating the diversity indices with stand variables, only the Pielou’s evenness index showed a significant relationship between them. We concluded that both the conservative and semi-intensive treatments did not generate significant changes in tree diversity, but the former had slightly higher alpha diversity indices. These results can provide a better insight on silvicultural practices and their effects on species composition.

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<![CDATA[Unravelling the mystery of “Madagascar copal”: Age, origin and preservation of a Recent resin]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_15728 The loss of biodiversity during the Anthropocene is a constant topic of discussion, especially in the top biodiversity hotspots, such as Madagascar. In this regard, the study of preserved organisms through time, like those included in "Madagascar copal", is of relevance. “Madagascar copal" originated from the leguminous tree Hymenaea verrucosa, which produced and produces resin abundantly. In the last 20 years, interest has focused on the scientific study of its biological inclusions, mainly arthropods, described in dozens of publications. The age and origin of the deposits of "Madagascar copal" have not yet been resolved. Our objectives are to determine its age and geographical origin, and thus increase its scientific value as a source of biological/palaeobiological information. Although Hymenaea was established in Madagascar during the Miocene, we did not find geological deposits of copal or amber in the island. It is plausible that the evolution of those deposits was negatively conditioned by the type of soil, by the climate, and by the development of soil/litter microorganisms, which inhibit preservation of the resin pieces in the litter and subsoil over 300 years. Our results indicate that "Madagascar copal" is a Recent resin, up to a few hundred years old, that originated from Hymenaea trees growing in the lowland coastal forests, one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. The included and preserved biota is representative of that ecosystem today and during historical times. Inclusions in this Recent resin do not have the palaeontological significance that has been mistakenly attributed to them, but they do have relevant implications for studies regarding Anthropocene biodiversity loss in this hottest hotspot.

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<![CDATA[Development and evaluation of habitat suitability models for nesting white-headed woodpecker (<i>Dryobates albolarvatus</i>) in burned forest]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14713 Salvage logging in burned forests can negatively affect habitat for white-headed woodpeckers (Dryobates albolarvatus), a species of conservation concern, but also meets socioeconomic demands for timber and human safety. Habitat suitability index (HSI) models can inform forest management activities to help meet habitat conservation objectives. Informing post-fire forest management, however, involves model application at new locations as wildfires occur, requiring evaluation of predictive performance across locations. We developed HSI models for white-headed woodpeckers using nest sites from two burned-forest locations in Oregon, the Toolbox (2002) and Canyon Creek (2015) fires. We measured predictive performance by developing one model at each of the two locations and quantifying discrimination of nest from reference sites at two other wildfire locations where the model had not been developed (either Toolbox or Canyon Creek, and the Barry Point Fire [2011]). We developed and evaluated Maxent models based on remotely sensed environmental metrics to support habitat mapping, and weighted logistic regression (WLR) models that combined remotely sensed and field-collected metrics to inform management prescriptions. Both Maxent and WLR models developed either at Canyon Creek or Toolbox performed adequately to inform management when applied at the alternate Toolbox or Canyon Creek location, respectively (area under the receiver-operating-characteristic curve [AUC] range = 0.61–0.72) but poorly when applied at Barry Point (AUC = 0.53–0.57). The final HSI models fitted to Toolbox and Canyon Creek data quantified suitable nesting habitat as severely burned or open sites adjacent to lower severity and closed canopy sites, where foraging presumably occurs. We suggest these models are applicable at locations similar to development locations but not at locations resembling Barry Point, which were characterized by more (pre-fire) canopy openings, larger diameter trees, less ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), and more juniper (Juniperus occidentalis). Considering our results, we recommend caution when applying HSI models developed at individual wildfire locations to inform post-fire management at new locations without first evaluating predictive performance.

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<![CDATA[Local and landscape-level diversity effects on forest functioning]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14584 Research of the past decades has shown that biodiversity is a fundamental driver of ecosystem functioning. However, most of this biodiversity–ecosystem functioning (BEF) research focused on experimental communities on small areas where environmental context was held constant. Whether the established BEF relationships also apply to natural or managed ecosystems that are embedded in variable landscape contexts remains unclear. In this study, we therefore investigated biodiversity effects on ecosystem functions in 36 forest stands that were located across a vast range of environmental conditions in managed landscapes of Central Europe (Switzerland). Specifically, we approximated forest productivity by leaf area index and forest phenology by growing-season length and tested effects of tree species richness and land-cover richness on these variables. We then examined the correlation and the confounding of these local and landscape-level diversity effects with environmental context variables related to forest stand structure (number of trees), landscape structure (land-cover edge density), climate (annual precipitation) and topography (mean altitude). We found that of all tested variables tree species richness was among the most important determinants of forest leaf area index and growing-season length. The positive effects of tree species richness on these two ecosystem variables were remarkably consistent across the different environmental conditions we investigated and we found little evidence of a context-dependent change in these biodiversity effects. Land-cover richness was not directly related to local forest functions but could nevertheless play a role via a positive effect on tree species richness.

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<![CDATA[Distribution pattern of Tugai forests species diversity and their relationship to environmental factors in an arid area of China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14501 Ecological restoration of degraded riparian Tugai forests is a key driver to combat desertification in arid regions. Previous studies have focused mainly on changes in groundwater as the underlying mechanisms of Tugai forest’s decline. We evaluated species composition and diversity of Tugai forest and their relationship to groundwater, soil salinity, and soil nutrient. Using 73 quadrats (100 m × 100 m) from 13 transects located perpendicularly to river in the upper reaches of the Tarim River. Eighteen plant species belonging to sixteen genera and eight families were recorded, and the dominant species included Populus euphratica, Phragmites communis, and Tamarix ramosissima. Three P. euphratica stand ages were detected: young stand, mature stand, and old stand. There were significant differences in species diversity, groundwater depth, groundwater salinity, distance from the quadrat to the river channel, soil moisture content, pH, electrical conductivity, total salt, Cl, SO42−, Ca2−, Mg2+, Na+, K+, soil organic carbon, and soil organic matter across the stand ages. Seven species were identified as indicators of the three stand ages. Redundancy analysis indicated that the Tugai forest diversity indices were negatively correlated with groundwater depth, groundwater salinity, and distance from the river, and positively associated with electrical conductivity, total salt, pH, Cl, SO42−, CO32−, soil organic matter, soil organic carbon, and soil moisture content. Plant diversity was the highest at 3–6 m groundwater depth, followed by 0–3 m and then 6–9 m, with the lowest recorded at > 9 m. The appropriate groundwater depth for herbs was about 1–4 m, whereas the depth for trees and shrubs was about 3–6 m. The groundwater depth < 6 m was deemed suitable for the growth of desert riparian forests. This results provide a scientific reference for the ecological restoration and protection for Tugai forests in arid areas.

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<![CDATA[Subterranean biodiversity and depth distribution of myriapods in forested scree slopes of Central Europe]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_9853 The shallow underground of rock debris is a unique animal refuge. Nevertheless, the research of this habitat lags far behind the study of caves and soil, due to technical and time-consuming demands. Data on in scree habitat from eleven localities in seven different geomorphological units of the Czech and Slovak Republics were processed. Based on previous studies, as well as knowledge of cave and soil fauna, it was hypothesised that the occurrence of a varied and peculiar fauna would show a pattern of depth distribution with variations due to local specificities. From 2005–2016 (at least one year on each site), macrofauna was collected via sets of three long-term exposed subterranean traps consisting of 110 cm long perforated tube, with ten cups located in a gradient at 5–95 cm below the soil surface. In total, 14 symphylans (not identified to species level), 271 centipedes (23 spp.) and 572 millipedes (32 spp.) were sampled. The overall depth distribution of centipedes and millipedes appeared to have relatively similar pattern, with both groups being found at all depth levels. Nevertheless, this pattern depends on locations. The depth distribution trend lines are mostly in the form of an asymmetric ‘U’, with decreased abundance until the middle of the gradient, followed by increase in the deepest levels. Epigeic species were sporadically distributed along the whole depth gradient, but concentrated at the soil surface, while some subterranean species, such as the centipede and the millipedes , and , were recorded in the deepest parts of the gradient. This characterises the debris community as a mixture of soil and subterranean species with an absence of species exclusively found in caves. The use of different fixation methods in traps had a significant and selective impact on samples; millipedes were either attracted by ethylene glycol or repelled by formaldehyde. Centipedes were also captured more frequently in ethylene glycol; however, the species composition varied in each of the fixatives. Depth distribution of myriapods was similar in both fixative solutions. Traps with these fixatives could be recommended for similar ecological studies.

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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[New distributional records for sixteen Mordellidae species from the Western Palearctic (Insecta, Coleoptera, Mordellidae)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N16e166f1-6642-435f-8a28-b33cc0c72715
Abstract

A list of 22 new distributional records is presented for 16 Mordellidae species from the Western Palearctic: Variimorda caprai (Franciscolo, 1951) (Montenegro); V. mendax Méquignon, 1946 (Montenegro); Mordellistena falsoparvula Ermisch, 1956 (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro); M. olympica Ermisch, 1965 (Cyprus, Montenegro); M. kraatzi Emery, 1876 (Morocco); M. longicornis Mulsant, 1856 (Morocco); M. dives Emery, 1876 (Kazakhstan); M. krujanensis Ermisch, 1963 (Montenegro); M. tarsata Mulsant, 1856 (Cyprus, North Macedonia); M. michalki Ermisch, 1956 (Kyrgyzstan); M. thuringiaca Ermisch, 1963 (Bulgaria, Montenegro, Slovakia, Spain); M. koelleri Ermisch, 1956 (Italy, Montenegro); Mordellistenula longipalpis Ermisch, 1965 (Montenegro); Mordellochroa milleri (Emery, 1876) (Italy); Dellamora palposa Normand, 1916 (Italy). Information about the distributional range is summarised for each species, and notes on habitat and host plants are also provided.

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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[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[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[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[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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<![CDATA[A clue on bee glue: New insight into the sources and factors driving resin intake in honeybees (Apis mellifera)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c648d09d5eed0c484c81dc4

Honeybees (Apis mellifera) are threatened by numerous pathogens and parasites. To prevent infections they apply cooperative behavioral defenses, such as allo-grooming and hygiene, or they use antimicrobial plant resin. Resin is a chemically complex and highly variable mixture of many bioactive compounds. Bees collect the sticky material from different plant species and use it for nest construction and protection. Despite its importance for colony health, comparatively little is known about the precise origins and variability in resin spectra collected by honeybees. To identify the botanical resin sources of A. mellifera in Western Europe we chemically compared resin loads of individual foragers and tree resins. We further examined the resin intake of 25 colonies from five different apiaries to assess the effect of location on variation in the spectra of collected resin. Across all colonies and apiaries, seven distinct resin types were categorized according to their color and chemical composition. Matches between bee-collected resin and tree resin indicated that bees used poplar (Populus balsamifera, P. x canadensis), birch (Betula alba), horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) and coniferous trees (either Picea abies or Pinus sylvestris) as resin sources. Our data reveal that honeybees collect a comparatively broad and variable spectrum of resin sources, thus assuring protection against a variety of antagonists sensitive to different resins and/or compounds. We further unravel distinct preferences for specific resins and resin chemotypes, indicating that honeybees selectively search for bioactive resin compounds.

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