Donnelly A, Caffarra A, Kelleher CT, O'Neil BF, Diskin E, Pletsers A, Proctor H, Stirnemann R, O'Halloran J, Peñuelas J, Hodkinson TR, Sparks TH (2012) Surviving in a warmer world: environmental and genetic responses. Climate Research 53: 245-262 DOI: 10.3354/cr01102.
Rivas-Ubach A, Sardans J, Pérez-Trujillo M, Estiarte M, Peñuelas J (2012) Strong relationship between elemental stoichiometry and metabolome in plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencies 109: 4181-4186.
Alvarez A., Gracia M., Retana J. (2012) Fuel types and crown fire potential in Pinus halepensis forests. European Journal of Forest Research. 131: 463-474.LinkDoi: 10.1007/s10342-011-0520-6
There is a lack of knowledge to identify and classify forest structures according to the risk of crown fires, especially in Mediterranean regions. In this study, for the first time, we use real information, obtained after a wildfire that burnt under extreme meteorological conditions, to classify forest structures of Pinus halepensis into fuel types as a function of crown fire potential. We identified fourteen forest structures which characterize many forest types in Western Mediterranean areas depending on canopy closure, number of tree layers, percent of each tree layer and overall tree density. By using the pattern of fire types that burnt the most numerous forest structures, we have identified four fire hazard groups of forest structures which are considered different fuel types. The first two had the lowest risk of active crown fires and they differed in the proportion of surface fires and passive crown fires. The third fuel type was the threshold between structures with low and high extreme fire behavior; while the fourth had a high risk of active crown fires. Firefighters and forest managers who are demanding this kind of schema, will test and upgrade this classification of fuel types in function of crown fire potential during future wildfires. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.
Alvarez A., Gracia M., Vayreda J., Retana J. (2012) Patterns of fuel types and crown fire potential in Pinus halepensis forests in the Western Mediterranean Basin. Forest Ecology and Management. 270: 282-290.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2011.01.039
Using the databases from the Spanish Forest Inventories, we have classified the forest structures of Pinus halepensis plots across the Iberian Peninsula into different fuel types as a function of the most common fire types that can be supported. The purposes of this study are to determine (i) the proportion of the different fuel types and fire type associated with different disturbance scenarios (undisturbed, after a recent wildfire, after an old wildfire and after thinning), (ii) the effect of climate and soil type on the distribution of fuel types and (iii) the effect of the different disturbance scenarios on the transitions between these fuel types. After a recent wildfire the risk of spreading active crown fires was reduced but the risk increased with time since last fire and in undisturbed areas. Climate and stoniness influenced the spatial distribution of fuel types and the potential crown fire risk. There was a lower risk of active crown fires when there was higher aridity and higher stoniness. Disturbances modify the transitions between fuel types; after a wildfire there was the highest change in fuel types with an increase of fuel type one with open forest structures and the presence of plots without trees that are linked to lower risk of active crown fires. There was also a reduction of fuel types 3 and 4, which burn with high intensity during a wildfire. In the absence of disturbances or after an old wildfire, changes between fuel types were slow, usually leading to increasing canopy closure and higher risk of active crown fires. After thinning there were also important changes in fuel types, with a reduction of active crown fire risk after thinning from below and heavy thinning. Fire plays an important role in maintaining landscape heterogeneity. As a consequence of climate warming, new areas with high structural continuity will increase the risk of extreme fire behavior, and for this reason, small wildfires and specific thinning treatments are the key to reduce crown fire potential. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
Aparicio J.M., Muñoz A., Bonal R., Møller A.P. (2012) Population differences in density and resource allocation of ornamental tail feathers in the barn swallow. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 105: 925-936.LinkDoi: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2011.01830.x
Many organisms show well-defined latitudinal clines in morphology, which appear to be caused by spatially varying natural selection, resulting in different optimal phenotypes in each location. Such spatial variability raises an interesting question, with different prospects for the action of sexual selection on characters that have a dual purpose, such as locomotion and sexual attraction. The outermost tail feathers of barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) represent one such character, and their evolution has been a classic model subject to intense debate. In the present study, we examined individuals from four European populations to analyze geographical variation in the length and mass of tail feathers in relation to body size and wing size. Tail feather length differed between sexes and populations, and such variation was a result of the effects of natural selection, acting through differences in body size and wing size, as well as the effects of sexual selection that favours longer tails. The extra enlargement of the tail promoted by sexual selection (i.e. beyond the natural selection optimum) could be achieved by increasing investment in ornaments, and by modifying feather structure to produce longer feathers of lower density. These two separate processes accounting for the production of longer and more costly tail feathers and less dense feathers, respectively, are consistent with the hypothesis that both Zahavian and Fisherian mechanisms may be involved in the evolution of the long tails of male barn swallows. We hypothesize that the strength of sexual selection increases with latitude because of the need for rapid mating as a result of the short duration of the breeding season at high latitudes. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London.
Armenteras D., Retana J. (2012) Dynamics, patterns and causes of fires in northwestern amazonia. PLoS ONE. 7: 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035288
According to recent studies, two widespread droughts occurred in the Amazon basin, one during 2005 and one during 2010. The drought increased the prevalence of climate-driven fires over most of the basin. Given the importance of human-atmosphere-vegetation interactions in tropical rainforests, these events have generated concerns over the vulnerability of this area to climate change. This paper focuses on one of the wettest areas of the basin, Northwestern Amazonia, where the interactions between the climate and fires are much weaker and where little is known about the anthropogenic drivers of fires. We have assessed the response of fires to climate over a ten-year period, and analysed the socio-economic and demographic determinants of fire occurrence. The patterns of fires and climate and their linkages in Northwestern Amazonia differ from the enhanced fire response to climate variation observed in the rest of Amazonia. The highest number of recorded fires in Northwestern Amazonia occurred in 2004 and 2007, and this did not coincide with the periods of extreme drought experienced in Amazonia in 2005 and 2010. Rather, during those years, Northwestern Amazonia experienced a relatively small numbers of fire hotspots. We have shown that fire occurrence correlated well with deforestation and was determined by anthropogenic drivers, mainly small-scale agriculture, cattle ranching (i.e., pastures) and active agricultural frontiers (including illegal crops). Thus, the particular climatic conditions for air convergence and rainfall created by proximity to the Andes, coupled with the presence of one of the most active colonisation fronts in the region, make this region differently affected by the general drought-induced fire patterns experienced by the rest of the Amazon. Moreover, the results suggest that, even in this wet region, humans are able to modify the frequency of fires and impact these historically well preserved forests. © 2012 Armenteras, Retana.
Arnan X., Cerdá X., Retana J. (2012) Distinctive life traits and distribution along environmental gradients of dominant and subordinate Mediterranean ant species. Oecologia. 170: 489-500.LinkDoi: 10.1007/s00442-012-2315-y
For most animal and plant species, life traits strongly affect their species-specific role, function or position within ecological communities. Previous studies on ant communities have mostly focused on the role of dominant species and the outcome of interspecific interactions. However, life traits of ant species have seldom been considered within a community framework. This study (1) analyses life traits related to ecological and behavioural characteristics of dominant and subordinate ant species from 13 sites distributed throughout the Iberian Peninsula, (2) determines how similar the ant species are within each of the two levels of the dominance hierarchy, and (3) establishes the distribution patterns of these different groups of species along environmental gradients. Our results showed that the differences between dominants and subordinates fall into two main categories: resource exploitation and thermal tolerance. Dominant species have more populated colonies and defend food resources more fiercely than subordinates, but they display low tolerance to high temperatures. We have identified different assemblages of species included within each of these two levels in the dominance hierarchy. The distribution of these assemblages varied along the environmental gradient, shifting from dominant Dolichoderinae and cryptic species in moist areas, to dominant Myrmicinae and hot climate specialists mainly in open and hot sites. We have been able to identify a set of life traits of the most common Iberian ant species that has enabled us to characterise groups of dominant and subordinate species. Although certain common features within the groups of both dominants and subordinates always emerge, other different features allow for differentiating subgroups within each of these groups. These different traits allow the different subgroups coping with particular conditions across environmental gradients. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.
Arnan X., López B.C., Martínez-Vilalta J., Estorach M., Poyatos R. (2012) The age of monumental olive trees (Olea europaea) in northeastern Spain. Dendrochronologia. 30: 11-14.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.dendro.2011.02.002
Trees can reach ages that in some cases amount to thousands of years. In the Mediterranean region, olive trees (Olea europaea) have traditionally been considered a particularly long-lived species. The main objective of this study was to assess the age of large olive trees considered to be millenarian and classified as monumental trees in northeastern Spain. We extracted cores of 14 individuals and obtained 8 sections of trees which had already been cut in the area where the largest olive trees in the northeastern Iberian Peninsula are found. The age of the sampled olive trees was assessed by counting the number of annual growth rings. Tree rings did not cross-date well, neither within nor between individuals, but boundaries between likely annual rings were clearly distinct. We found a linear relationship between DBH and tree age (in years) (Age=2.11×diameter(cm)+88.93, R2=0.80), which was used to estimate the age of unsampled olive trees. The maximum estimated age (627±110 years) is among the greatest ages reported for olive trees around the world (700 years) and among the oldest trees in Mediterranean ecosystems. © 2011 Istituto Italiano di Dendrocronologia.
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