ResearchPad - species-diversity 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[Complex interactions can create persistent fluctuations in high-diversity ecosystems]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14702 Large abundance fluctuations are well-documented in natural populations. Yet, it is still not known to what extent these fluctuations stem from multi-species interactions, rather than environmental perturbations or demographic processes. There have been long-standing debates on these issues, questioning even the possibility of interaction-driven fluctuations, as they might induce species extinctions until equilibrium is reached.

The situation is all the more challenging and richer in complex high-dimensional settings (many interacting species, many niches, etc.), which feature qualitatively new phenomena, and where theory is still lacking. Here we show that high-diversity metacommunities can persist in dynamically-fluctuating states for extremely long periods of time without extinctions, and with a diversity well above that attained at equilibrium. We describe the quantitative conditions for these endogenous fluctuations, and the key fingerprints which would distinguish them from external perturbations.

We establish a theoretical framework for the many-species dynamics, derived from statistical physics of out-of-equilibrium systems. These settings present unique challenges, and observed behaviors may be counter-intuitive, making specialized theoretical techniques an indispensable tool. Our theory exactly maps the many-species problem to that of a single representative species (metapopulation). This allows us to draw connections with existing theory on perturbed metapopulations, while accounting for unique properties of endogenous feedbacks at high diversity.

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<![CDATA[Factors affecting the microbiome of <i>Ixodes scapularis</i> and <i>Amblyomma americanum</i>]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14701 The microbial community composition of disease vectors can impact pathogen establishment and transmission as well as on vector behavior and fitness. While data on vector microbiota are accumulating quickly, determinants of the variation in disease vector microbial communities are incompletely understood. We explored the microbiome of two human-biting tick species abundant in eastern North America (Amblyomma americanum and Ixodes scapularis) to identify the relative contribution of tick species, tick life stage, tick sex, environmental context and vertical transmission to the richness, diversity, and species composition of the tick microbiome. We sampled 89 adult and nymphal Ixodes scapularis (N = 49) and Amblyomma americanum (N = 40) from two field sites and characterized the microbiome of each individual using the v3-v4 hypervariable region of the 16S rRNA gene. We identified significant variation in microbial community composition due to tick species and life stage with lesser impact of sampling site. Compared to unfed nymphs and males, the microbiome of engorged adult female I. scapularis, as well as the egg masses they produced, were low in bacterial richness and diversity and were dominated by Rickettsia, suggesting strong vertical transmission of this genus. Likewise, microbiota of A. americanum nymphs and males were more diverse than those of adult females. Among bacteria of public health importance, we detected several different Rickettsia sequence types, several of which were distinct from known species. Borrelia was relatively common in I. scapularis but did not show the same level of sequence variation as Rickettsia. Several bacterial genera were significantly over-represented in Borrelia-infected I. scapularis, suggesting a potential interaction of facilitative relationship between these taxa; no OTUs were under-represented in Borrelia-infected ticks. The systematic sampling we conducted for this study allowed us to partition the variation in tick microbial composition as a function of tick- and environmentally-related factors. Upon more complete understanding of the forces that shape the tick microbiome it will be possible to design targeted experimental studies to test the impacts of individual taxa and suites of microbes on vector-borne pathogen transmission and on vector biology.

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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[An Out-of-Patagonia migration explains the worldwide diversity and distribution of <i>Saccharomyces eubayanus</i> lineages]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14503 Lager yeast history has intrigued scientists for decades. The recent isolation of S. eubayanus, the lager yeast ancestor, represents an unprecedented opportunity to extend our knowledge on yeast phylogeography and the origins of the S. pastorianus lager hybrid. However, the genetic, phenotypic and evolutionary history of this species remains poorly known. Our work demonstrates that S. eubayanus isolates from Patagonia have the greatest genetic diversity, comprising the largest number of lineages within a single geographic region and experienced ancestral and recent admixture between lineages, likely suggesting co-occurrence in Patagonia. Importantly, some isolates exhibited significant phenotypic differences for traits such as high temperature and ethanol tolerance, together with fermentation performance, demonstrating their potential in the brewing industry for the generation of new styles of lager beers. Furthermore, our results support the idea of colonization from peripheral glacial refugia from the South, as responsible for the high genetic diversity observed in southern Chilean Patagonia. Our results allow hypothesizing a successful physiological adjustment of the species to the local conditions in Patagonia, explaining its wide distribution in the southern hemisphere.

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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[Adaptive genetic diversity and evidence of population genetic structure in the endangered Sierra Madre Sparrow (<i>Xenospiza baileyi</i>)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11235 The magnitude and distribution of genetic diversity through space and time can provide useful information relating to evolutionary potential and conservation status in threatened species. In assessing genetic diversity in species that are of conservation concern, several studies have focused on the use of Toll-like receptors (TLRs). TLRs are innate immune genes related to pathogen resistance, and polymorphisms may reflect not only levels of functional diversity, but may also be used to assess genetic diversity within and among populations. Here, we combined four potentially adaptive markers (TLRs) with one mitochondrial (COI) marker to evaluate genetic variation in the endangered Sierra Madre Sparrow (Xenospiza baileyi). This species offers an ideal model to investigate population and evolutionary genetic processes that may be occurring in a habitat restricted endangered species with disjunct populations (Mexico City and Durango), the census sizes of which differ by an order of magnitude. TLRs diversity in the Sierra Madre Sparrow was relatively high, which was not expected given its two small, geographically isolated populations. Genetic diversity was different (but not significantly so) between the two populations, with less diversity seen in the smaller Durango population. Population genetic structure between populations was due to isolation and different selective forces acting on different TLRs; population structure was also evident in COI. Reduction of genetic diversity in COI was observed over 20 years in the Durango population, a result likely caused by habitat loss, a factor which may be the main cause of diversity decline generally. Our results provide information related to the ways in which adaptive variation can be altered by demographic changes due to human-mediated habitat alterations. Furthermore, our findings may help to guide conservation schemes for both populations and their restricted habitat.

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<![CDATA[Lake-depth related pattern of genetic and morphological diatom diversity in boreal Lake Bolshoe Toko, Eastern Siberia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N3e538c26-938b-46fc-81d6-ffac689cc377

Large, old and heterogenous lake systems are valuable sources of biodiversity. The analysis of current spatial variability within such lakes increases our understanding of the origin and establishment of biodiversity. The environmental sensitivity and the high taxonomic richness of diatoms make them ideal organisms to investigate intra-lake variability. We investigated modern intra-lake diatom diversity in the large and old sub-arctic Lake Bolshoe Toko in Siberia. Our study uses diatom-specific metabarcoding, applying a short rbcL marker combined with next-generation sequencing and morphological identification to analyse the diatom diversity in modern sediment samples of 17 intra-lake sites. We analysed abundance-based compositional taxonomic diversity and generic phylogenetic diversity to investigate the relationship of diatom diversity changes with water depth. The two approaches show differences in taxonomic identification and alpha diversity, revealing a generally higher diversity with the genetic approach. With respect to beta diversity and ordination analyses, both approaches result in similar patterns. Water depth or related lake environmental conditions are significant factors influencing intra-lake diatom patterns, showing many significant negative correlations between alpha and beta diversity and water depth. Further, one near-shore and two lagoon lake sites characterized by low (0-10m) and medium (10-30m) water depth are unusual with unique taxonomic compositions. At deeper (>30m) water sites we identified strongest phylogenetic clustering in Aulacoseira, but generally much less in Staurosira, which supports that water depth is a strong environmental filter on the Aulacoseira communities. Our study demonstrates the utility of combining analyses of genetic and morphological as well as phylogenetic diversity to decipher compositional and generic phylogenetic patterns, which are relevant in understanding intra-lake heterogeneity as a source of biodiversity in the sub-arctic glacial Lake Bolshoe Toko.

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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[The genetic diversity and population structure of Sophora alopecuroides (Faboideae) as determined by microsatellite markers developed from transcriptome]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N8ed88142-6689-430c-b82a-b033b4ff58ac

Sophora alopecuroides (Faboideae) is an endemic species, mainly distributed in northwest China. However, the limited molecular markers range for this species hinders breeding and genetic studies. A total of 20,324 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers were identified from 118,197 assembled transcripts and 18 highly polymorphic SSR markers were used to explore the genetic diversity and population structure of S. alopecuroides from 23 different geographical populations. A relatively low genetic diversity was found in S. alopecuroides based on mean values of the number of effective alleles (Ne = 1.81), expected heterozygosity (He = 0.39) and observed heterozygosity (Ho = 0.55). The results of AMOVA indicated higher levels of variation within populations than between populations. Bayesian-based cluster analysis, principal coordinates analysis and Neighbor-Joining phylogeny analysis roughly divided all genotypes into four major groups with some admixtures. Meanwhile, geographic barriers would have restricted gene flow between the northern and southern regions (separated by Tianshan Mountains), wherein the two relatively ancestral and independent clusters of S. alopecuroides occur. History trade and migration along the Silk Road would together have promoted the spread of S. alopecuroides from the western to the eastern regions of the northwest plateau in China, resulting in the current genetic diversity and population structure. The transcriptomic SSR markers provide a valuable resource for understanding the genetic diversity and population structure of S. alopecuroides, and will assist effective conservation management.

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<![CDATA[Biogeography of the endosymbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodiniaceae) community associated with the brooding coral Favia gravida in the Atlantic Ocean]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8c1937d5eed0c484b4d1a6

Zooxanthellate corals live in symbiosis with phototrophic dinoflagellates of the family Symbiodiniaceae, enabling the host coral to dwell in shallow, nutrient-poor marine waters. The South Atlantic Ocean is characterized by low coral diversity with high levels of endemism. However, little is known about coral–dinoflagellate associations in the region. This study examined the diversity of Symbiodiniaceae associated with the scleractinian coral Favia gravida across its distributional range using the ITS-2 marker. This brooding coral endemic to the South Atlantic can be found across a wide range of latitudes and longitudes, including the Mid-Atlantic islands. Even though it occurs primarily in shallower environments, F. gravida is among the few coral species that live in habitats with extreme environmental conditions (high irradiance, temperature, and turbidity) such as very shallow tide pools. In the present study, we show that F. gravida exhibits some degree of flexibility in its symbiotic association with zooxanthellae across its range. F. gravida associates predominantly with Cladocopium C3 (ITS2 type Symbiodinium C3) but also with Symbiodinium A3, Symbiodinium linucheae (ITS2 type A4), Cladocopium C1, Cladocopium C130, and Fugacium F3. Symbiont diversity varied across biogeographic regions (Symbiodinium A3 and S. linucheae were found in the Tropical Eastern Atlantic, Cladocopium C1 in the Mid-Atlantic, and other subtypes in the Southwestern Atlantic) and was affected by local environmental conditions. In addition, Symbiodiniaceae diversity was highest in a southwestern Atlantic oceanic island (Rocas Atoll). Understanding the relationship between corals and their algal symbionts is critical in determining the factors that control the ecological niches of zooxanthellate corals and their symbionts, and identifying host-symbiont pairs that may be more resistant to environmental changes.

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<![CDATA[Sensitivity analysis of agent-based simulation utilizing massively parallel computation and interactive data visualization]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8823e3d5eed0c484639255

An essential step in the analysis of agent-based simulation is sensitivity analysis, which namely examines the dependency of parameter values on simulation results. Although a number of approaches have been proposed for sensitivity analysis, they still have limitations in exhaustivity and interpretability. In this study, we propose a novel methodology for sensitivity analysis of agent-based simulation, MASSIVE (Massively parallel Agent-based Simulations and Subsequent Interactive Visualization-based Exploration). MASSIVE takes a unique paradigm, which is completely different from those of sensitivity analysis methods developed so far, By combining massively parallel computation and interactive data visualization, MASSIVE enables us to inspect a broad parameter space intuitively. We demonstrated the utility of MASSIVE by its application to cancer evolution simulation, which successfully identified conditions that generate heterogeneous tumors. We believe that our approach would be a de facto standard for sensitivity analysis of agent-based simulation in an era of evergrowing computational technology. All the results form our MASSIVE analysis are available at https://www.hgc.jp/~niiyan/massive.

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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[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[Pathogen diversity drives the evolution of generalist MHC-II alleles in human populations]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5ca310d5eed0c48441f094

Central players of the adaptive immune system are the groups of proteins encoded in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which shape the immune response against pathogens and tolerance to self-peptides. The corresponding genomic region is of particular interest, as it harbors more disease associations than any other region in the human genome, including associations with infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, cancers, and neuropsychiatric diseases. Certain MHC molecules can bind to a much wider range of epitopes than others, but the functional implication of such an elevated epitope-binding repertoire has remained largely unclear. It has been suggested that by recognizing more peptide segments, such promiscuous MHC molecules promote immune response against a broader range of pathogens. If so, the geographical distribution of MHC promiscuity level should be shaped by pathogen diversity. Three lines of evidence support the hypothesis. First, we found that in pathogen-rich geographical regions, humans are more likely to carry highly promiscuous MHC class II DRB1 alleles. Second, the switch between specialist and generalist antigen presentation has occurred repeatedly and in a rapid manner during human evolution. Third, molecular positions that define promiscuity level of MHC class II molecules are especially diverse and are under positive selection in human populations. Taken together, our work indicates that pathogen load maintains generalist adaptive immune recognition, with implications for medical genetics and epidemiology.

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<![CDATA[Unlocking a high bacterial diversity in the coralloid root microbiome from the cycad genus Dioon]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c648ccfd5eed0c484c81835

Cycads are among the few plants that have developed specialized roots to host nitrogen-fixing bacteria. We describe the bacterial diversity of the coralloid roots from seven Dioon species and their surrounding rhizosphere and soil. Using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, we found that all coralloid roots are inhabited by a broad diversity of bacterial groups, including cyanobacteria and Rhizobiales among the most abundant groups. The diversity and composition of the endophytes are similar in the six Mexican species of Dioon that we evaluated, suggesting a recent divergence of Dioon populations and/or similar plant-driven restrictions in maintaining the coralloid root microbiome. Botanical garden samples and natural populations have a similar taxonomic composition, although the beta diversity differed between these populations. The rhizosphere surrounding the coralloid root serves as a reservoir and source of mostly diazotroph and plant growth-promoting groups that colonize the coralloid endosphere. In the case of cyanobacteria, the endosphere is enriched with Nostoc spp and Calothrix spp that are closely related to previously reported symbiont genera in cycads and other early divergent plants. The data reported here provide an in-depth taxonomic characterization of the bacterial community associated with coralloid root microbiome. The functional aspects of the endophytes, their biological interactions, and their evolutionary history are the next research step in this recently discovered diversity within the cycad coralloid root microbiome.

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<![CDATA[Plant-soil feedbacks promote coexistence and resilience in multi-species communities]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6b26b6d5eed0c484289eef

Both ecological theory and empirical evidence suggest that negative frequency dependent feedbacks structure plant communities, but integration of these findings has been limited. Here we develop a generic model of frequency dependent feedback to analyze coexistence and invasibility in random theoretical and real communities for which frequency dependence through plant-soil feedbacks (PSFs) was determined empirically. We investigated community stability and invasibility by means of mechanistic analysis of invasion conditions and numerical simulations. We found that communities fall along a spectrum of coexistence types ranging from strict pair-wise negative feedback to strict intransitive networks. Intermediate community structures characterized by partial intransitivity may feature “keystone competitors” which disproportionately influence community stability. Real communities were characterized by stronger negative feedback and higher robustness to species loss than randomly assembled communities. Partial intransitivity became increasingly likely in more diverse communities. The results presented here theoretically explain why more diverse communities are characterized by stronger negative frequency dependent feedbacks, a pattern previously encountered in observational studies. Natural communities are more likely to be maintained by strict negative plant-soil feedback than expected by chance, but our results also show that community stability often depends on partial intransitivity. These results suggest that plant-soil feedbacks can facilitate coexistence in multi-species communities, but that these feedbacks may also initiate cascading effects on community diversity following from single-species loss.

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<![CDATA[Regional and global shifts in crop diversity through the Anthropocene]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c648ceed5eed0c484c81b0f

The Anthropocene epoch is partly defined by anthropogenic spread of crops beyond their centres of origin. At global scales, evidence indicates that species-level taxonomic diversity of crops being cultivated on large-scale agricultural lands has increased linearly over the past 50 years. Yet environmental and socio-economic differences support expectations that temporal changes in crop diversity vary across regions. Ecological theory also suggests that changes in crop taxonomic diversity may not necessarily reflect changes in the evolutionary diversity of crops. We used data from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to assess changes in crop taxonomic- and phylogenetic diversity across 22 subcontinental-scale regions from 1961–2014. We document certain broad consistencies across nearly all regions: i) little change in crop diversity from 1961 through to the late 1970s; followed by ii) a 10-year period of sharp diversification through the early 1980s; followed by iii) a “levelling-off” of crop diversification beginning in the early 1990s. However, the specific onset and duration of these distinct periods differs significantly across regions and are unrelated to agricultural expansion, indicating that unique policy or environmental conditions influence the crops being grown within a given region. Additionally, while the 1970s and 1980s are defined by region-scale increases in crop diversity this period marks the increasing dominance of a small number of crop species and lineages; a trend resulting in detectable increases in the similarity of crops being grown across regions. Broad similarities in the species-level taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity of crops being grown across regions, primarily at large industrial scales captured by FAO data, represent a unique feature of the Anthropocene epoch. Yet nuanced asymmetries in regional-scale trends suggest that environmental and socio-economic factors play a key role in shaping observed macro-ecological changes in the plant diversity on agricultural lands.

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<![CDATA[An ecologically constrained procedure for sensitivity analysis of Artificial Neural Networks and other empirical models]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b5252d5eed0c4842bc656

Sensitivity analysis applied to Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) as well as to other types of empirical ecological models allows assessing the importance of environmental predictive variables in affecting species distribution or other target variables. However, approaches that only consider values of the environmental variables that are likely to be observed in real-world conditions, given the underlying ecological relationships with other variables, have not yet been proposed. Here, a constrained sensitivity analysis procedure is presented, which evaluates the importance of the environmental variables considering only their plausible changes, thereby exploring only ecological meaningful scenarios. To demonstrate the procedure, we applied it to an ANN model predicting fish species richness, as identifying relationships between environmental variables and fish species occurrence in river ecosystems is a recurring topic in freshwater ecology. Results showed that several environmental variables played a less relevant role in driving the model output when that sensitivity analysis allowed them to vary only within an ecologically meaningful range of values, i.e. avoiding values that the model would never handle in its practical applications. By comparing percent changes in MSE between constrained and unconstrained sensitivity analysis, the relative importance of environmental variables was found to be different, with habitat descriptors and urbanization factors that played a more relevant role according to the constrained procedure. The ecologically constrained procedure can be applied to any sensitivity analysis method for ANNs, but obviously it can also be applied to other types of empirical ecological models.

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<![CDATA[Genetic diversity and population structure of Miscanthus lutarioriparius, an endemic plant of China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5df329d5eed0c484580de8

Miscanthus lutarioriparius is a native perennial Miscanthus species of China, which is currently used as raw material of papermaking and bioenergy crop. It also has been considered as a promising eco-bioindustrial plant, which can offer raw material and gene for the biomass industry. However, lack of germplasm resources and genetic diversity information of M. lutarioriparius have become the bottleneck that prevents the stable and further development of the biomass industry. In the present study, genetic diversity of 153 M. lutarioriparius individuals nine populations was studied using 27 Start Codon Targeted (SCoT) markers. High polymorphic bands (97.67%), polymorphic information content (0.26) and allele number (1.88) showed SCoT as a reliable marker system for genetic analysis in M. lutarioriparius. At the species, the percentage of polymorphic loci [PPL] was 97.2%, Nei’s gene diversity [H] was 0.36, Shannon index [I] was 0.54 and Expected Heterozygosity [He] was 0.56. Genetic variation within populations (84.91%) was higher than among populations (15.09%) based on analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA). Moderate level of genetic differentiation was found in M. lutarioriparius populations (Fst = 0.15), which is further confirmed by STRUCTURE, principal coordinates analysis (PCoA) and an unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean (UPGMA) analysis that could reveal a clear separation between groups of the north and south of Yangtze River. The gene flow of the populations within the respective south and north of Yangtze River area was higher, but lower between the areas. There was no obvious correlation between genetic distance and geographic distance. The breeding systems, geographical isolation and fragmented habitat of M. lutarioriparius may be due to the high level of genetic diversity, moderate genetic differentiation, and the population, structure. The study further suggests some measure for conservation of genetic resources and provides the genetic basis for improving the efficiency of breeding based on the results of diversity analysis.

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