Ecological Applications (ECOL APPL )

Publisher: Ecological Society of America, Ecological Society of America


Ecological Applications, published eight times per year, contains ecological research and discussion papers that have specific relevance to environmental management and policy.

  • Impact factor
    Show impact factor history
    Impact factor
  • 5-year impact
  • Cited half-life
  • Immediacy index
  • Eigenfactor
  • Article influence
  • Website
    Ecological Applications website
  • Other titles
    Ecological applications
  • ISSN
  • OCLC
  • Material type
    Periodical, Internet resource
  • Document type
    Journal / Magazine / Newspaper, Internet Resource

Publisher details

Ecological Society of America

  • Pre-print
    • Author can archive a pre-print version
  • Post-print
    • Author can archive a post-print version
  • Conditions
    • Publisher copyright and source must be acknowledged (first page must state "Copyright by the Ecological Society of America," along with the full citation)
    • On author or institutional server
  • Classification
    ​ green

Publications in this journal

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We investigated the roles of local environmental conditions and dispersal limitation in zooplankton recovery from acidification in Swan Lake, Ontario, a historically acidified, metal-contaminated lake. We hypothesized that local environmental conditions (pH and the presence of resident, acid-tolerant zooplankton) would limit the establishment of several zooplankton colonist species. We tested this in a factorial mesocosm experiment that ran for 32 days during the mid summer. Ambient pH (5.6) reduced the abundance of two acid-sensitive cladoceran taxa, Daphnia spp. and Ceriodaphnia lacustris compared to elevated pH (6.5) but increased the abundance of cyclopoid copepod juveniles. The resident community suppressed Skistodiaptomus oregonensis and Diacyclops bicuspidatus thomasi, and to a lesser extent Mesocyclops edax, but slightly enhanced Daphnia spp. We also hypothesized that conditions in the sediments of acidified Swan Lake would limit zoo-plankton recruitment from diapausing eggs. We tested this by reciprocally transferring sediments containing eggs between Swan Lake and a nearby recovered lake, and incubating them for 15 weeks in 20-L emergence traps. Most zooplankton emerged from diapause in both lakes indicating that this mechanism contributes to the recolonization of acidified lakes once pH returns to normal. Some species, however, emerged in only one lake or the other, indicating that hatching cues such as light, temperature, oxygen, or appropriate pH may have been missing. Our experiments demonstrate that both local lake conditions and dia-pausing eggs can influence zooplankton recovery. Continued recovery may require addi-tional management efforts to reduce and control regional acid emissions and active inter-vention in the form of food web manipulations.
    Ecological Applications 01/2025; 15:2025-2036.
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Studies on the interactive responses to multiple simultaneously acting stressors have focused on individual or population-level responses in laboratory microcosms, while field-based studies on community-level responses are rare. We examined the influence of a natural (non-anthropogenic acidity) vs. human-induced stress (land drainage) and their interaction on species richness and spatial turnover (β-diversity) of stream diatom, bryophyte and benthic invertebrate communities. Our four stream categories were: circumneutral reference, circumneutral impacted, naturally acidic and naturally acidic impacted streams. We expected the most sensitive species to be only present in the circumneutral reference streams. Therefore, species richness should be highest in these streams and lowest in the naturally acidic streams additionally stressed by forest drainage. Alternatively, communities in acidic streams may consist of the most tolerant taxa that are unaffected by further stressors, species richness in these streams remaining unaffected by drainage. We also expected spatial turnover to be highest in the circumneutral near-pristine streams and lowest in the drainage-impacted acidic streams. In all three taxonomic groups, α-diversity was lower in the naturally acidic than circumneutral streams. The additional impact of the anthropogenic stress on species richness varied between groups, having no effect on diatoms, antagonistic effect on bryophytes, and additive effect on invertebrates. We also found differences in how each stressor modified β-diversity of each taxonomic group. For diatoms, β-diversity showed an overall tendency to decrease with increasing stress level while bryophyte β-diversity responded mainly to forest drainage. Benthic invertebrate β-diversity did not differ between treatments. Our results suggest that non-additive effects among stressors need special attention to improve the understanding and management of multifactor responses in streams. Our results also argue for the primacy of a multi-taxon approach to environmental impact detection, and for the inclusion of a wide array of ecological responses, particularly community turnover, in bioassessment programs to detect responses that may go unnoticed by conventional richness-based measures.
    Ecological Applications 12/2014;
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The release of large quantities of chemicals into the environment represents a major source of environmental disturbance. In recent years, the focus of ecotoxicology has shifted from describing the effects of chemical contaminants on individual species to developing more integrated approaches for predicting and evaluating long term effects of chemicals across species and ecosystems. Traditional ecotoxicology is typically based on data of sensitivity of a few surrogate species to a contaminant and often considers little variability in chemical sensitivity within and among taxonomic groups. This approach assumes that evolutionary history and phylogenetic relatedness among species have little or no impact on species’ sensitivity to chemical compounds. Few studies have tested this assumption. Using phylogenetic comparative methods and published data for amphibians, we show that sensitivity to copper sulfate, a commonly used pesticide, exhibits a strong phylogenetic signal when controlling for experimental temperature. Our results indicate that evolutionary history needs to be accounted for to make accurate predictions of amphibian sensitivity to this contaminant under different temperature scenarios. Since physiological and metabolic traits showing high phylogenetic signal likely underlie variation in species sensitivity to chemical stressors, future studies should evaluate and predict species vulnerability to pollutants using evolutionarily informed approaches.
    Ecological Applications 10/2014;
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Wild pollinators, bees in particular, may greatly contribute to crop pollination and provide a safety-net against declines in commercial pollinators. However, the identity, life history traits and environmental sensitivities of main crop pollinator species have received limited attention. These are crucial for predicting pollination services of different communities and for developing management practices that enhance crop pollinators. We sampled wild bees in three crop systems (almond, confection sunflower and seed watermelon) in a mosaic Israeli Mediterranean landscape. Bees were sampled in field/orchard edges and interiors, and in semi-natural scrub surrounding the fields/orchards. We also analysed land cover at 50-2500 m radii around fields/orchards. We used this data to distinguish crop- from non-crop pollinators based on a set of life history traits (nesting, lecty, sociality, body size) linked to habitat preference and crop visitation. Bee abundance and species richness decreased from the surrounding semi-natural habitat to the field/orchard interior, especially across the semi-natural-field edge ecotone. Thus, although rich bee communities were found near fields, only small fractions crossed the ecotone and visited crop flowers in substantial numbers. The bee assemblage in agricultural fields/orchards and on crop flowers was dominated by ground-nesting bees of the tribe Halictini, which tend to nest within fields. Bees' habitat preferences were determined mainly by nesting guild, whereas crop visitation was determined mainly by sociality. Lecty and body size also affected both measures. The percentage of surrounding semi-natural habitat at 250-2500 m radii had a positive effect on wild bee diversity in field edges, for all bee guilds, while at 50-100 m radii, only above-ground nesters were positively affected. In sum, we found that crop- and non-crop pollinators are distinguished by behavioral and morphological traits. Hence, analysis of life-history traits of bee communities can help assess the pollination services they are likely to provide (when taking into account single-visit pollination efficiency). The ecotone between agricultural fields and surrounding habitats is a major barrier that filters many bee species, particularly with regard to their nesting requirements. Thus greater attention should be given to management practices that encourage pollinators to live and nest, and not only forage, within fields.
    Ecological Applications 10/2014;
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The physical and biological responses to rapid arctic warming are proving acute, and as such, there is a need to monitor, understand, and predict ecological responses over large spatial and temporal scales. The use of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) acquired from airborne and satellite sensors addresses this need as it is widely used as a tool for detecting and quantifying spatial and temporal dynamics of tundra vegetation cover, productivity, and phenology. Such extensive use of the NDVI to quantify vegetation characteristics suggests that it may be similarly applied to characterizing primary and secondary consumer communities. Here we develop empirical models to predict canopy arthropod biomass with canopy-level measurements of the NDVI both across and within distinct tundra vegetation communities over four growing seasons in the arctic foothills region of the Brooks Range, Alaska. When canopy arthropod biomass is predicted with the NDVI across all four growing seasons, our overall model that includes all four vegetation communities explains 63% of the variance in canopy arthropod biomass. Whereas each of our four vegetation community-specific models explain 74% (moist tussock tundra), 82% (erect shrub tundra), 84% (riparian shrub tundra), and 87% (dwarf shrub tundra) of the observed variation in canopy arthropod biomass. Our field-based study suggests that measurements of the NDVI made from air and spaceborne sensors may be able to quantify spatial and temporal variation in canopy arthropod biomass at landscape to regional scales.
    Ecological Applications 10/2014;
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Particulate organic matter (POM) processing is an important driver of aquatic ecosystem productivity that is sensitive to nutrient enrichment and drives ecosystem carbon (C) loss. Although studies of single concentrations of nitrogen (N) or phosphorus (P) have shown effects at relatively low concentrations, responses of litter breakdown rates along gradients of low-to-moderate N and P concentrations are needed to establish likely interdependent effects of dual N and P enrichment on baseline activity in stream ecosystems. We established 25 combinations of dissolved inorganic N (DIN; 55-545 µg L-1) and soluble reactive P (SRP; 4-86 µg L-1) concentrations with corresponding N:P molar ratios of 2-127 in experimental stream channels. We excluded macroinvertebrates, focusing on microbially driven breakdown of maple (Acer rubrum L.) and rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum L.) leaf litter. Breakdown rates (k d-1 and k dd-1) increased by up to 6× for maple and 12× for rhododendron over our N and P enrichment gradient compared to rates at low ambient N and P concentrations. The best models of k (d-1 and dd-1) included litter species identity and N and P concentrations; there was evidence for both additive and interactive effects of N and P. Models explaining variation in k dd-1 were supported by N and P for both maple and rhododendron (R2adj = 0.67 and 0.33, respectively). Residuals in the relationship between k dd-1 and N concentration were largely explained by P, but residuals for k dd-1 and P concentration were less adequately explained by N. Breakdown rates were more closely related to nutrient concentrations than variables associated with measurements of two mechanistic parameters associated with C loss (fungal biomass and microbial respiration rate). We also determined the effects of nutrient addition on litter C:nutrient stoichiometry and found reductions in litter C:N and C:P along our experimental nutrient gradient. Our results indicate that microbially driven litter processing rates increase across low-to-moderate nutrient gradients that are now common throughout human-modified landscapes.
    Ecological Applications 09/2014;
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Vegetation-type conversions between grasslands and shrublands have occurred worldwide in semiarid regions over the last 150 years. Areas once covered by drought-deciduous shrubs in Southern California (coastal sage scrub) are converting to grasslands dominated by nonnative species. Increasing fire frequency, drought, and nitrogen deposition have all been hypothesized as causes of this conversion, though there is little direct evidence. We constructed rain-out shelters in a coastal sage scrub community following a wildfire, manipulated water and nitrogen input in a split-plot design, and collected annual data on community composition for four years. While shrub cover increased through time in all plots during the postfire succession, both drought and nitrogen significantly slowed recovery. Four years after the fire, average native shrub cover ranged from over 80% in water addition, ambient-nitrogen plots to 20% in water reduction, nitrogen addition plots. Nonnative grass cover was high following the fire and remained high in the water reduction plots through the third spring after the fire, before decreasing in the fourth year of the study. Adding nitrogen decreased the cover of native plants and increased the cover of nonnative grasses, but also increased the growth of one crown-sprouting shrub species. Our results suggest that extreme drought during postfire succession may slow or alter succession, possibly facilitating vegetation-type conversion of coastal sage scrub to grassland. Nitrogen addition slowed succession and, when combined with drought, significantly decreased native cover and increased grass cover. Fire, drought, and atmospheric N deposition are widespread aspects of environmental change that occur simultaneously in this system. Our results imply these drivers of change may reinforce each other, leading to a continued decline of native shrubs and conversion to annual grassland.
    Ecological Applications 09/2014; 24(6):1390-1404.
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Climate change is predicted to impact river systems in the southeastern USA through alterations of temperature, patterns of precipitation and hydrology. Future climate scenarios for the southeastern USA predict (1) surface water temperatures will warm in concert with air temperature, (2) storm flows will increase and base flows will decrease, and (3) the annual pattern of synchronization between hydroperiod and water temperature will be altered. These alterations are expected to disturb floodplain plant communities making them more vulnerable to establishment of invasive species. The primary objectives of this study are to evaluate whether native and invasive riparian plant assemblages respond differently to alterations of climate and land use. To study the response of riparian wetlands to watershed and climate alterations, we utilized an existing natural experiment imbedded in gradients of temperature and hydrology found among dammed and undammed rivers. We evaluated a suite of environmental variables related to water temperature, hydrology, watershed disturbance, and edaphic conditions to identify the strongest predictors of native and invasive species abundances. We found that native species abundance is strongly influenced by climate-driven variables such as temperature and hydrology, while invasive species abundance is more strongly influenced by site-specific factors such as land use and soil nutrient availability. The patterns of synchronization between plant phenology, annual hydrographs, and annual water temperature cycles may be key factors sustaining the viability of native riparian plant communities. Our results demonstrate the need to understand the interactions between climate, land use, and nutrient management in maintaining the diversity of riparian plant communities. Future climate change is likely to result in diminished competitiveness of native plant species, while the competitiveness of invasive species will increase due to anthropogenic watershed disturbance and accelerated nutrient and sediment export.
    Ecological Applications 08/2014;