Bartumeus F. (2015) Behavioural ecology cannot turn its back on Lévy walk research Comment on "Liberating Lévy walk research from the shackles of optimal foraging" by A.M. Reynolds. Physics of Life Reviews. 14: 84-86.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.plrev.2015.06.007
[No abstract available]
Basnou C., Iguzquiza J., Pino J. (2015) Examining the role of landscape structure and dynamics in alien plant invasion from urban Mediterranean coastal habitats. Landscape and Urban Planning. 136: 156-164.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.12.001
This paper aims to disentangle the effects of both current landscape structure and recent land use-change on alien plant invasion in urban Mediterranean coastal habitats. Patches of four habitat types (rock outcrops, sand dunes, scrublands and forests) of different sizes and surrounding landscape compositions were selected along the coast of the Metropolitan Region of Barcelona (NE Spain). Attributes of habitat patches, historical (1956) and current landscape composition around them, land-cover changes (1956-2005) and other environmental and geographic factors within these patches were obtained. The association of these attributes with alien plant richness, abundance and composition was investigated using GLM and CCA. Alien species richness was mostly explained by patch size and shape and built-up area proportion from 1956 and 2005 in a 50. m buffer around patches. Alien species abundance was mostly related to patch shape, temperature, rainfall, land-cover changes within patches and cropland cover of 1956 in a 50. m buffer around patches. Alien species composition was primary related to habitat type, temperature, land-cover changes within patches and the composition of the surrounding landscape. Results suggest that landscape factors affect alien species richness and abundance differently, which are indicative of species colonization and spread, respectively. Landscape history positively affects both colonization and spread, with evidence for a colonization credit related with past urban cover, and the association between recent patch dynamics and present aliens spread. Results highlight the importance of including landscape structure and dynamics in the management of plant invasions in coastal Mediterranean habitats, especially in metropolitan regions. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
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.
Basnou, C., Pino, J., Terradas, J. (2015) Ecosystem services provided by green infrastructure in the urban environment. CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources. 10: 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1079/PAVSNNR201510004
Batllori E., Ackerly D.D., Moritz M.A. (2015) A minimal model of fire-vegetation feedbacks and disturbance stochasticity generates alternative stable states in grassland-shrubland-woodland systems. Environmental Research Letters. 10: 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1088/1748-9326/10/3/034018
Altered disturbance regimes in the context of global change are likely to have profound consequences for ecosystems. Interactions between fire and vegetation are of particular interest, as fire is a major driver of vegetation change, and vegetation properties (e.g., amount, flammability) alter fire regimes. Mediterranean-type ecosystems (MTEs) constitute a paradigmatic example of temperate fire-prone vegetation. Although these ecosystems may be heavily impacted by global change, disturbance regime shifts and the implications of fire-vegetation feedbacks in the dynamics of such biomes are still poorly characterized. We developed a minimal modeling framework incorporating key aspects of fire ecology and successional processes to evaluate the relative influence of extrinsic and intrinsic factors on disturbance and vegetation dynamics in systems composed of grassland, shrubland, and woodland mosaics, which characterize many MTEs. In this theoretical investigation, we performed extensive simulations representing different background rates of vegetation succession and disturbance regime (fire frequency and severity) processes that reflect a broad range of MTE environmental conditions. Varying fire-vegetation feedbacks can lead to different critical points in underlying processes of disturbance and sudden shifts in the vegetation state of grassland-shrubland-woodland systems, despite gradual changes in ecosystem drivers as defined by the environment. Vegetation flammability and disturbance stochasticity effectively modify system behavior, determining its heterogeneity and the existence of alternative stable states in MTEs. Small variations in system flammability and fire recurrence induced by climate or vegetation changes may trigger sudden shifts in the state of such ecosystems. The existence of threshold dynamics, alternative stable states, and contrasting system responses to environmental change has broad implications for MTE management. © 2015 IOP Publishing Ltd.
Batriu E., Ninot J.M., Pino J. (2015) Interactions between transplants of Phragmites australis and Juncus acutus in Mediterranean coastal marshes: The modulating role of environmental gradients. Aquatic Botany. 124: 29-38.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.aquabot.2015.03.003
Interactions between two coastal marsh plants (Phragmites australis and Juncus acutus) were investigated along three natural gradients of salinity, water table and soil texture, variously combined in a microtidal Mediterranean coastal marsh. Our aim was to clarify to what extent plant interactions explain the occurrence of stands of both species, since they are not solely due to their tolerance to environmental conditions. We used a replacement series design of field transplants. Mortality and relative yield index of aerial biomass were analyzed to assess the outcome of interactions using Generalized Linear Mixed Models. Results show that mortality was entirely driven by natural gradients. Specifically, higher salinity and soil clay contents increased mortality in both species, whereas high water table increased survival only in P. australis. Growth was controlled by plant interactions and by natural gradients. According to these results P. australis can suppress J. acutus in waterlogged and non-saline conditions. Where water table is deeper, J. acutus can suppress P. australis along a wide range of saline conditions. In the driest situations both species exhibited mutual interference and, in some cases, P. australis can again suppress J. acutus. Facilitation occurred along the salinity gradient in situations that correspond to low, medium or high stress for the beneficiary species, pointing that exceptions to the stress gradient hypothesis may occur in systems including multiple stress gradients. Our results suggest that competitive interactions and environmental gradients are not fully responsible for plant distribution in microtidal coastal marshes. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.
Batriu E., Ninot J.M., Pino J. (2015) Filtering of plant functional traits is determined by environmental gradients and by past land use in a mediterranean coastal marsh. Journal of Vegetation Science. 26: 492-500.LinkDoi: 10.1111/jvs.12251
Question: What is the effect of past land use and environmental gradients on plant functional traits within coastal marsh plant communities? Location: Mediterranean microtidal marshes in the Llobregat Delta, NE Spain. Methods: We used a data set collected previously comprising 45 vegetation plots with associated soil parameters, water table conditions and past land use. For each species we obtained the values or states for a set of plant functional traits: plant height, leaf dry matter content, specific leaf area, seed production, seed weight, life form and lateral expansion. To account for the effect of phylogeny, we evaluated trait diversity skewness by means of an ultrametric phylogenetic tree specifically constructed for the species studied. The association between both environmental gradients and past disturbance, and plant functional traits was tested by means of RLQ analysis. Results: Of all the traits, only seed weight showed a phylogenetic signal; consequently, phylogeny was not included in the RLQ analysis. Conductivity was negatively correlated with seed weight, whereas water table conditions and soil ionic balance were negatively correlated with specific leaf area. Past disturbance was negatively correlated with leaf dry matter content and with lateral expansion. Conclusions: Plant traits of Llobregat Delta coastal marsh communities are conditioned by environmental gradients and by past land use. Soil ionic balance and water table conditions determine key plant functional traits such as specific leaf area. This finding also corroborates the importance of soil ionic balance as a plant life driver in microtidal Mediterranean marshes. The effect of past land use on species traits might, however, be partially indirect and mediated by associated environmental changes. © 2014 International Association for Vegetation Science.
Benejam L., Saura-Mas S., Bardina M., Sola C., Munne A., Garcia-Berthou E. (2015) Ecological impacts of small hydropower plants on headwater stream fish: From individual to community effects. Ecology of Freshwater Fish. : 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1111/eff.12210
Hydroelectricity is increasingly used worldwide as a source of renewable energy, and many mountain ranges have dozens or hundreds of hydropower plants, with many more being under construction or planned. Although the ecological impacts of large dams are relatively well known, the effects of small hydropower plants and their weirs have been much less investigated. We studied the effects of water diversion of small hydropower plants on fish assemblages in the upper Ter river basin (Catalonia, NE Spain), which has headwater reaches with good water quality and no large dams but many of such plants. We studied fish populations and habitat features on control and impacted reaches for water diversion of 16 hydropower plants. In the impacted reaches, there was a significantly lower presence of refuges for fish, poorer habitat quality, more pools and less riffles and macrophytes, and shallower water levels. We also observed higher fish abundance, larger mean fish size and better fish condition in the control than in impacted reaches, although the results were species-specific. Accordingly, species composition was also affected, with lower relative abundance of brown trout (Salmo trutta) and Pyrenean minnow (Phoxinus bigerri) in the impacted reaches and higher presence of stone loach (Barbatula quignardi) and Mediterranean barbel (Barbus meridionalis). Our study highlights the effects of water diversion of small hydropower plants from the individual to the population and community levels but probably underestimates them, urging for further assessment and mitigation of these ecological impacts. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons A/S.
Benejam L., Saura-Mas S., Montserrat J., Torres F., Macies M. (2015) Could electric fish barriers help to manage native populations of European crayfish threatened by crayfish plague (Aphanomyces astaci)?. Management of Biological Invasions. 6: 307-310.LinkDoi: 10.3391/mbi.2015.6.3.10
Crayfish plague (Aphanomyces astaci) is the main problem that hinders the conservation of European crayfish species. Every year, dozens of native crayfish populations disappear due to this disease. We used an electric fish barrier to block the dispersal of infected crayfish upstream. One of the main objectives of this communication is to transfer our expertise using this equipment for improved conservation outcomes. As a result, we report a detailed description of the experience, as well as requirements, problems and opportunities of using an electric fish barrier to try to control crayfish plague in-situ. © 2015 The Author(s) and 2015 REABIC.
Bernal M., Verdaguer D., Badosa J., Abadia A., Llusia J., Penuelas J., Nunez-Olivera E., Llorens L. (2015) Effects of enhanced UV radiation and water availability on performance, biomass production and photoprotective mechanisms of Laurus nobilis seedlings. Environmental and Experimental Botany. 109: 264-275.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.envexpbot.2014.06.016
Climate models predict an increase in ultraviolet (UV) radiation and a reduction in precipitation in the Mediterranean region in the coming decades. High levels of UV radiation and water shortage can both cause photo-oxidative stress in plants. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of enhanced UV radiation and its interaction with low water availability on seedling performance, biomass production, and photoprotective mechanisms of the sclerophyllous evergreen species Laurus nobilis L. (laurel). To achieve this goal, one-year-old seedlings of L. nobilis were grown outdoors under three UV conditions (ambient UV, enhanced UV-A, and enhanced UV-A. +. UV-B) and under two watering regimes (watered to field capacity and reduced water supply). The results show that plants produced more biomass when exposed to above ambient levels of UV-A or UV-A. +. UV-B radiation, especially under low water availability. This was probably related to a UV-induced increase in leaf relative water content and in leaf water use efficiency under water shortage. Even though our results suggest that UV-A supplementation may play an important role in the stimulation of biomass production, plants grown under enhanced UV-A plots showed higher levels of energy dissipation as heat (measured as NPQ) and a higher de-epoxidation state of the violaxanthin cycle. This suggests a greater excess of light energy under UV-A supplementation, in accordance with the observed reduction in the foliar content of light-absorbing pigments in these plants. Strikingly, the addition of UV-B radiation mitigated these effects. In conclusion, UV enhancement might benefit water status and growth of L. nobilis seedlings, especially under low water availability. The results also indicate the activation of different plant response mechanisms to UV-A and UV-B radiation, which would interact to produce the overall plant response. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
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