(2015) Survival vs. growth trade-off in early recruitment challenges global warming impacts on Mediterranean mountain trees. . : -.LinkDoi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ppees.2015.06.004
Basnou C., Vicente P., Espelta J.M., Pino J. (2015) Of niche differentiation, dispersal ability and historical legacies: What drives woody community assembly in recent Mediterranean forests?. Oikos. : 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1111/oik.02534
Community assembly rules have been extensively studied, but its association with regional environmental variation and land use history remains largely unexplored. Land use history might be especially important in Mediterranean forests, considering their historical deforestation and recent afforestation. Using forest inventories and historical (1956) and recent (2000) land cover maps, we explored the following hypotheses: 1) woody species assembly is driven by environmental factors, but also by historical landscape attributes; 2) recent forests exhibit lower woody species richness than pre-existing due to the existence of colonization credits; 3) these credits are modulated by species' life-forms and dispersal mechanisms. We examined the association of forest historical type (pre-existing versus recent) with total species richness and that of diverse life-forms and dispersal groups, also considering the effects of current environment and past landscape factors. When accounting for these effects, no significant differences in woody species richness were found between forest historical types except for vertebrate-dispersed species. Species richness of this group was affected by the interaction of forest historical type with distance to coast and rainfall: vertebrate-dispersed species richness increased with rainfall and distance to the coast in recent forests, while it was higher in dryer sites in pre-existing forests. In addition, forest historical types showed differences in woody species composition associated to diverse environmental and past landscape factors. In view of these results we can conclude that: 1) community assembly in terms of species richness is fast enough to exhaust most colonization credit in recent Mediterranean forests except for vertebrate-dispersed species; 2) for these species, colonization credit is affected by the interplay of forest history and a set of proxies of niche and landscape constraints of species dispersal and establishment; 3) woody species assemblage is mostly shaped by the species' ecological niches in these forests. © 2015 The Authors.
Bonal R., Hernández M., Espelta J.M., Muñoz A., Aparicio J.M. (2015) Unexpected consequences of a drier world: Evidence that delay in late summer rains biases the population sex ratio of an insect. Royal Society Open Science. 2: 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1098/rsos.150198
The complexity of animal life histories makes it difficult to predict the consequences of climate change on their populations. In this paper, we show, for the first time, that longer summer drought episodes, such as those predicted for the dry Mediterranean region under climate change, may bias insect population sex ratio. Many Mediterranean organisms, like the weevil Curculio elephas, become active again after summer drought. This insect depends on late summer rainfall to soften the soil and allow adult emergence from their underground refuges. We found that, as in many protandric species, more C. elephas females emerged later in the season. Male emergence timing was on average earlier and also more dependent on the beginning of late summer rainfall. When these rains were delayed, the observed weevil sex ratio was biased towards females. So far, the effects of global warming on animal sex ratios has been reported for temperature-dependent sex determination in reptiles. Our results show that rainfall timing can also bias the sex ratio in an insect, and highlight the need for keeping a phenological perspective to predict the consequences of climate change. We must consider not just the magnitude of the predicted changes in temperature and rainfall but also the effects of their timing. © 2015 The Authors.
Fernandez-Martinez M., Garbulsky M., Penuelas J., Peguero G., Espelta J.M. (2015) Temporal trends in the enhanced vegetation index and spring weather predict seed production in Mediterranean oaks. Plant Ecology. 216: 1061-1072.LinkDoi: 10.1007/s11258-015-0489-1
The extremely year-to-year variable production of seeds (masting) is an extended plant reproductive behaviour important for forest dynamics and food webs. The dependence of these episodes of massive seed production on recently or long-term photosynthesised carbohydrates, however, remains controversial. In this paper, we explore whether vegetation (tree canopy) changes, detected using EVI as a proxy of leaf area and photosynthetic capacity, can provide a reliable estimation of seed production. To complete this analysis, we also explored the effect of weather both in the trends of EVI and in acorn crop size. To this end, we compared the trends of the EVI and acorn production over 10 years (2000–2009) in five stands of Quercus ilex L. in Barcelona (Catalonia, NE Spain). We found that acorn production was mainly driven by a combination of: (i) a minimum initial threshold in the EVI values, (ii) an increase in EVI in the 9 ± 4 months prior to reproduction, and (iii) appropriate weather conditions (low water stress) during spring. These results indicated, apparently for the first time, that reproduction in masting species could be detected and partly predicted by remotely sensed vegetative indices. Our results suggested that this particular reproductive behaviour in Mediterranean oaks was driven by a combination of two factors, i.e. good and improving vegetation conditions, as shown by a minimum initial threshold and the increase in EVI needed for large seed crops, and the need of wet weather conditions during spring. Moreover, our results fully supported recent studies that have associated short-term photosynthate production with seed production. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.
Sunyer P., Boixadera E., Munoz A., Bonal R., Espelta J.M. (2015) The interplay among acorn abundance and rodent behavior drives the spatial pattern of seedling recruitment in mature Mediterranean oak forests. PLoS ONE. 10: 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0129844
The patterns of seedling recruitment in animal-dispersed plants result from the interactions among environmental and behavioral variables. However, we know little on the contribution and combined effect of both kinds of variables. We designed a field study to assess the interplay between environment (vegetation structure, seed abundance, rodent abundance) and behavior (seed dispersal and predation by rodents, and rooting by wild boars), and their contribution to the spatial patterns of seedling recruitment in a Mediterranean mixed-oak forest. In a spatially explicit design, we monitored intensively all environmental and behavioral variables in fixed points at a small spatial scale from autumn to spring, as well as seedling emergence and survival. Our results revealed that the spatial patterns of seedling emergence were strongly related to acorn availability on the ground, but not by a facilitationeffect of vegetation cover. Rodents changed seed shadows generated by mother trees by dispersing most seeds from shrubby to open areas, but the spatial patterns of acorn dispersal/predation had no direct effect on recruitment. By contrast, rodents had a strong impact on recruitment as pilferers of cached seeds. Rooting by wild boars also reduced recruitment by reducing seed abundance, but also by changing rodent's behavior towards higher consumption of acorns in situ. Hence, seed abundance and the foraging behavior of scatter-hoarding rodents and wild boars are driving the spatial patterns of seedling recruitment in this mature oak forest, rather than vegetation features. The contribution of vegetation to seedling recruitment (e.g. facilitation by shrubs) may be context dependent, having a little role in closed forests, or being overridden by directed seed dispersal from shrubby to open areas. We warn about the need of using broad approaches that consider the combined action of environment and behavior to improve our knowledge on the dynamics of natural regeneration in forests. © 2015 Sunyer et al.
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