Monthly Archives: February 2012

Diversity effects on forest productivity – a meta-analysis

Zhang et al. have a paper in Early View titled “Forest productivity increases with evenness, species richness and trait variation: a global meta-analysis“.  Read it here.

The authors have provided a succinct description of their paper in the Journal.

Photo by the authors.

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Some new papers coming out

There are many papers in Early View here, check them out.  I wanted to highlight just a few of them that I personally thought were interesting.

  • Marko Spasojevic and Suding (here) examine community assembly mechanisms via functional diversity patterns.  How communities are assembled is a very classic question in ecology.  Papers on this topic often test the relative importance of competitive forces vs. environmental filtering forces. They test the relative importance of not just filtering and competition, but also equalizing fitness processes (functional redundancy towards an optimal trait; Chesson 2000) and facilitation.  They find evidence for filtering, equalizing processes, competition, and facilitation.  This is an important study in contributing to expanding the discussion of mechanisms for community assembly other than filtering and competition.

  • Paul Selmants et al. (here) examine the effects of realistic  species loss from those of random species loss on invasion resistance at the plant community level.  Many studies have used an approach of looking at random species losses and how that influences X or Y processes.  Selmants et al. found that plots with realistic species losses were more resistant to invasion than those with random species losses.  They posit that the realistic species loss scenario created vacant niche space more quickly than the random species loss scenario.

  • Zhang et al. (here) conducted a meta-analysis of 54 studies to look at the relationship between diversity (evenness, species richness, and traits) and productivity (this brings to mind a review on evenness effects on ecosystem properties by Hillebrand et al. in 2008).  Evenness was the strongest predictor of productivity – an equitable distribution of abundance among species in a forest leads to more productive forests. They do admit that testing mechanisms is beyond their paper, and pose a few ideas for mechanisms.  I was particularly intrigued by their methods.  I have never used boosted regression trees (BRT) for meta-analysis.  However, they did use R, and a package for R called gbm (check it out here) – so I might check it out myself.  Apparently, these BRT models can handle missing values in predictor variables – very odd, and interesting, indeed.



Coexistence in Mediterranean oaks

Ignacio Pérez-Ramos et al. have a paper in volume 100, issue 2 titled “Ontogenetic conflicts and rank reversals in two Mediterranean oak species: implications for coexistence“.  Read it here.

The authors have provided some beautiful pictures of their study area and a description of their research and where it was done.

Study area: ´Los Alcornocales` Natural Park (southern Spain).

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Ecological Inspirations: So close and yet so different

by Rob Salguero-Gómez,
Associate Editor for Journal of Ecology.

 In recent decades, plant demography has slowly but steadily started to catch up with its older sister: animal demography. Plant demographers now record data from much larger samples, have a better grasp of the dynamics of “unseen” processes such as vegetative dormancy, dispersal and seed banks, and use a set of mathematical tools that allow for robust decompositions of demographic and environmental stochasticity [1]. Nonetheless, I believe that there is still a significant amount of work ahead. Continue reading

100:2 and a Virtual Issue

Roses are red (sometimes),
the Journal cover is blue.
What better way to spend st Valentine’s
than reading Issue 2?

The new issue is now online and you can read it here>

This is the first Journal issue to include a new online feature providing direct links to any extra articles about the paper. Continue reading

Editor’s Choice Issue 100:2

Dispersal of seeds and fruits by animal vectors plays a key role in regeneration of plant communities. Most often, seed dispersal is accomplished by a single animal disperser, but in some systems dispersal is achieved through two dispersers. Secondary seed dispersal is generally thought to be a fairly stochastic process that is difficult to study and probably of little ecological importance. The Canary Islands, an archipelago located off the north-west coast of Africa, offers the best-known example of secondary seed dispersal.

Southern grey shrike with a Gallotia lizard. Photo credit: Gustavo Peña

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Conditionality in ant-plant mutualisms

Beatriz Baker-Méio and Robert Marquis have a paper in volume 100:1 in the Journal titled “Context-dependent benefits from ant-plant mutualism in three sympatric varieties of Chamaecrista desvauxii“.  Their topic of variation in species interaction outcomes is close to my heart, so I am glad to see more attention on this topic.

Beatriz has written a nice lay summary of their research presented in the paper, which we provide below along with pictures of the study organisms.

Figure 1. A caterpillar feeding on Chamaecrista desvauxii var. brevipes' flower bud being attacked by a Crematogaster ant.

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