Global biodiversity, stoichiometry and ecosystem function responses to human-induced C-N-P imbalances

Carnicer J., Sardans J., Stefanescu C., Ubach A., Bartons M., Asensio D., Penuelas J. (2014) Global biodiversity, stoichiometry and ecosystem function responses to human-induced C-N-P imbalances. Journal of Plant Physiology. : 0-0.
Link
Doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2014.07.022

Abstract:

Global change analyses usually consider biodiversity as a global asset that needs to be preserved. Biodiversity is frequently analysed mainly as a response variable affected by diverse environmental drivers. However, recent studies highlight that gradients of biodiversity are associated with gradual changes in the distribution of key dominant functional groups characterized by distinctive traits and stoichiometry, which in turn often define the rates of ecosystem processes and nutrient cycling. Moreover, pervasive links have been reported between biodiversity, food web structure, ecosystem function and species stoichiometry. Here we review current global stoichiometric gradients and how future distributional shifts in key functional groups may in turn influence basic ecosystem functions (production, nutrient cycling, decomposition) and therefore could exert a feedback effect on stoichiometric gradients. The C-N-P stoichiometry of most primary producers (phytoplankton, algae, plants) has been linked to functional trait continua (i.e. to major axes of phenotypic variation observed in inter-specific analyses of multiple traits). In contrast, the C-N-P stoichiometry of higher-level consumers remains less precisely quantified in many taxonomic groups. We show that significant links are observed between trait continua across trophic levels. In spite of recent advances, the future reciprocal feedbacks between key functional groups, biodiversity and ecosystem functions remain largely uncertain. The reported evidence, however, highlights the key role of stoichiometric traits and suggests the need of a progressive shift towards an ecosystemic and stoichiometric perspective in global biodiversity analyses.

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Determinants of extinction-colonization dynamics in Mediterranean butterflies: The role of landscape, climate and local habitat features

Fernandez-Chacon A., Stefanescu C., Genovart M., Nichols J.D., Hines J.E., Paramo F., Turco M., Oro D. (2014) Determinants of extinction-colonization dynamics in Mediterranean butterflies: The role of landscape, climate and local habitat features. Journal of Animal Ecology. 83: 276-285.
Link
Doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12118

Abstract:

Many species are found today in the form of fragmented populations occupying patches of remnant habitat in human-altered landscapes. The persistence of these population networks requires a balance between extinction and colonization events assumed to be primarily related to patch area and isolation, but the contribution of factors such as the characteristics of patch and matrix habitats, the species' traits (habitat specialization and dispersal capabilities) and variation in climatic conditions have seldom been evaluated simultaneously. The identification of environmental variables associated with patch occupancy and turnover may be especially useful to enhance the persistence of multiple species under current global change. However, for robust inference on occupancy and related parameters, we must account for detection errors, a commonly overlooked problem that leads to biased estimates and misleading conclusions about population dynamics. Here, we provide direct empirical evidence of the effects of different environmental variables on the extinction and colonization rates of a rich butterfly community in the western Mediterranean. The analysis was based on a 17-year data set containing detection/nondetection data on 73 butterfly species for 26 sites in north-eastern Spain. Using multiseason occupancy models, which take into account species' detectability, we were able to obtain robust estimates of local extinction and colonization probabilities for each species and test the potential effects of site covariates such as the area of suitable habitat, topographic variability, landscape permeability around the site and climatic variability in aridity conditions. Results revealed a general pattern across species with local habitat composition and landscape features as stronger predictors of occupancy dynamics compared with topography and local aridity. Increasing area of suitable habitat in a site strongly decreased local extinction risks and, for a number of species, both higher amounts of suitable habitat and more permeable landscapes increased colonization rates. Nevertheless, increased topographic variability decreased the extinction risk of bad dispersers, a group of species with significantly lower colonization rates. Our models predicted higher sensitivity of the butterfly assemblages to deterministic changes in habitat features rather than to stochastic weather patterns, with some relationships being clearly dependent on the species' traits. © 2013 British Ecological Society.

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Latitudinal gradients in butterfly population variability are influenced by landscape heterogeneity

Oliver T.H., Stefanescu C., Paramo F., Brereton T., Roy D.B. (2014) Latitudinal gradients in butterfly population variability are influenced by landscape heterogeneity. Ecography. : 0-0.
Link
Doi: 10.1111/ecog.00608

Abstract:

The variability of populations over time is positively associated with their risk of local extinction. Previous work has shown that populations at the high-latitude boundary of species' ranges show higher inter-annual variability, consistent with increased sensitivity and exposure to adverse climatic conditions. However, patterns of population variability at both high- and low-latitude species range boundaries have not yet been concurrently examined. Here, we assess the inter-annual population variability of 28 butterfly species between 1994 and 2009 at 351 and 18 sites in the United Kingdom and Catalonia, Spain, respectively. Local population variability is examined with respect to the position of the species' bioclimatic envelopes (i.e. whether the population falls within areas of the 'core' climatic suitability or is a climatically 'marginal' population), and in relation to local landscape heterogeneity, which may influence these range location - population dynamic relationships. We found that butterfly species consistently show latitudinal gradients in population variability, with increased variability in the more northerly UK. This pattern is even more marked for southerly distributed species with 'marginal' climatic suitability in the UK but 'core' climatic suitability in Catalonia. In addition, local landscape heterogeneity did influence these range location - population dynamic relationships. Habitat heterogeneity was associated with dampened population dynamics, especially for populations in the UK. Our results suggest that promoting habitat heterogeneity may promote the persistence of populations at high-latitude range boundaries, which may potentially aid northwards expansion under climate warming. We did not find evidence that population variability increases towards southern range boundaries. Sample sizes for this region were low, but there was tentative evidence, in line with previous ecological theory, that local landscape heterogeneity may promote persistence in these retracting low-latitude range boundary populations. © 2014 The Authors.

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