Bonal R., Espelta J.M., Muñoz A., Ortego J., Aparicio J.M., Gaddis K., Sork V.L. (2016) Diversity in insect seed parasite guilds at large geographical scale: The roles of host specificity and spatial distance. Journal of Biogeography. : 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1111/jbi.12733
Aim: Host specificity within plant-feeding insects constitutes a fascinating example of natural selection that promotes inter-specific niche segregation. If specificity is strong, composition of local plant parasitic insect guilds is largely dependent on the presence and prevalence of the preferred hosts. Alternatively, if it is weak or absent, historic and stochastic demographic processes may drive the structuring of insect communities. We assessed whether the species composition of acorn feeding insects (Curculio spp. guilds) and their genetic variation change geographically according to the local host community. Location: An 800 km transect across California, USA. Methods: We used DNA taxonomy to detect potential Curculio cryptic speciation and assessed intra-specific genetic structure among sampling sites. We monitored larval performance on different hosts, by measuring the weight of each larva upon emerging from the acorn. Our phylogenetic and spatial analyses disentangled host specificity and geographical effects on Curculio community composition and genetic structure. Results: DNA taxonomy revealed no specialized cryptic species. Californian Curculio spp. were sister taxa that did not segregate among Quercus species or, at a deeper taxonomic level, between red and white oaks. Curculio species turnover and intra-specific genetic differentiation increased with geographical distance among localities irrespective of local oak species composition. Moreover, larval performance did not differ among oak species or acorn sizes when controlling for the effect of the locality. Main conclusions: Historical processes have contributed to the structuring of acorn weevil communities across California. Trophic niche overlapped among species, indicating that ecologically similar species can co-exist. Acorn crop inter-annual variability and unpredictability in mixed oak forests may have selected against narrow specialization, and facilitated co-existence by means of an inter-specific time partitioning of the resources. Wide-scale geographical records of parasitic insects and their host plants are necessary to understand the processes underlying species diversity. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Chang, C.-T., Sperlich, D., Sabaté, S., Sánchez-Costa, E., Cotillas, M., Espelta, J.M., Gracia, C. (2016) Mitigating the stress of drought on soil respiration by selective thinning: Contrasting effects of drought on soil respiration of two oak species in a mediterranean forest. Forests. 7: 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.3390/f7110263
Cotillas M., Espelta J.M., Sánchez-Costa E., Sabaté S. (2016) Aboveground and belowground biomass allocation patterns in two Mediterranean oaks with contrasting leaf habit: an insight into carbon stock in young oak coppices. European Journal of Forest Research. 135: 243-252.LinkDoi: 10.1007/s10342-015-0932-9
In the last decades, the global interest in the role of forests as carbon sinks has grown, and thus, studies aimed at estimating tree biomass have progressively increased. However, few surveys have focused on young coppices, although they are abundant worldwide in areas regenerating after disturbance (e.g. wildfire, clearcutting). In the Mediterranean Basin, young coppices are very frequent, and most of them are formed by evergreen and deciduous oaks (Quercus spp.). In this survey, we have studied the biomass allocation patterns of two oaks coexisting in coppices, the evergreen Quercus ilex and the deciduous Quercus cerrioides, comparing them in the light of their different leaf habit, which may influence their physiological performance in the context of climate change. We have also obtained allometric equations for each species and its components, which we have used to calculate the carbon stock in the sampled area, as an insight into the potential of young oak coppices to sequester carbon. The results indicate a higher biomass investment of Q. ilex in the stump and a higher leafiness and allocation to roots in Q. cerrioides. In the light of these differences, the evergreen Q. ilex could be defined as a “resource-saving” species in comparison with the more “resource-demanding” Q. cerrioides. The allometric equations were able to predict from 78 to 99 % of the variation in biomass using diameter as predictor variable for all the tree components aside of the stump. Overall carbon stock estimation in the young coppice of our study area was 43.2 Mg ha−1, of which 62 % is stored belowground. These results highlight the importance of biomass allocation in the belowground compartment in Mediterranean young oak coppices as a temporal carbon sink. Moreover, they provide evidence that these forests may store a relevant amount of carbon, often ignored in forest inventories. © 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Fernández-Martínez M., Vicca S., Janssens I.A., Espelta J.M., Peñuelas J. (2016) The North Atlantic Oscillation synchronises fruit production in western European forests. Ecography. : 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1111/ecog.02296
Weather and its lagged effects have been associated with interannual variability and synchrony of fruit production for several tree species. Such relationships are used often in hypotheses relating interannual variability in fruit production with tree resources or favourable pollinating conditions and with synchrony in fruit production among sites through the Moran effect (the synchronisation of biological processes among populations driven by meteorological variability) or the local availability of pollen. Climatic teleconnections, such as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), representing weather packages, however, have rarely been correlated with fruit production, despite often being better predictors of ecological processes than is local weather. The aim of this study was to test the utility of seasonal NAO indices for predicting interannual variability and synchrony in fruit production using data from 76 forests of Abies alba, Fagus sylvatica, Picea abies, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Quercus petraea, and Q. robur distributed across central Europe. Interannual variability in fruit production for all species was significantly correlated with seasonal NAO indices, which were more prominently important predictors than local meteorological variables. The relationships identified by these analyses indicated that proximal causes were mostly responsible for the interannual variability in fruit production, supporting the premise that local tree resources and favourable pollinating conditions are needed to produce large fruit crops. Synchrony in fruit production between forests was mainly associated with weather and geographical distance among sites. Also, fruit production for a given year was less variable among sites during warm and dry springs (negative spring NAO phases). Our results identify the Moran effect as the most likely mechanism for synchronisation of fruit production at large geographical scales and the possibility that pollen availability plays a role in synchronising fruit production at local scales. Our results highlight the influence of the NAO on the patterns of fruit production across western Europe. © 2016 Nordic Society Oikos.
Fernández-Martínez, M., Vicca, S., Janssens, I.A., Espelta, J.M., Peñuelas, J. (2016) The role of nutrients, productivity and climate in determining tree fruit production in European forests. New Phytologist. : 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1111/nph.14193
Ruiz-Carbayo, H., Bonal, R., Espelta, J.M., Hernández, M., Pino, J. (2016) Community assembly in time and space: The case of Lepidoptera in a Quercus ilex L. savannah-like landscape. Insect Conservation and Diversity. : 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1111/icad.12184
Sunyer P., Muñoz A., Mazerolle M.J., Bonal R., Espelta J.M. (2016) Wood mouse population dynamics: Interplay among seed abundance seasonality, shrub cover and wild boar interference. Mammalian Biology. 81: 372-379.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.mambio.2016.03.001
Small rodents play a key role in forest ecosystems as common prey, but also as prevalent seed consumers and dispersers. Hence, there is a great interest in disentangling the factors involved in their population dynamics. We conducted an intensive 2-year field study to test the relative role of seasonality in seed abundance, shrub cover and wild boar interference on the population dynamics of wood mice, Apodemus sylvaticus, in a Mediterranean oak forest. Wood mice demographic parameters varied strongly with the seasonal variations in acorn availability on the ground. Mice survival and abundance dropped drastically during summer, the period of acorn scarcity, but rose again in autumn when acorn-fall began. Specifically, female abundance was associated with the temporal changes in acorn availability on the ground, but were randomly distributed in space whereas males showed a spatially aggregated pattern during the acorn-abundant seasons (autumn-winter). In contrast to studies conducted in sparse oak forests in drier environments, spatial variability in shrub cover and wild boar foraging activity did not affect directly the population dynamics of wood mice. This could be due to the presence of an abundant shrub layer and a closed canopy in our forest that enhance environmental conditions and provides shelter against predators and ungulates. Our study highlights that the relative importance of environmental factors and intraguild competition on rodent dynamics may be highly context-dependent, varying greatly among different sites. We suggest that the relationships between acorn dispersers and oaks are more reciprocal than previously considered. © 2016 Published by Elsevier GmbH.
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