[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The effects of disturbance on diversity depend on the environmental conditions. Here, we assessed the role of natural disturbance by an endemic fossorial rodent (Spalacopus cyanus) on plant invasions and its consequence on ecological and phylogenetic community structure in an arid ecosystem. Exotic taxa tend to be associated with disturbed sites, affecting species composition and phylogenetic structure.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Species are the unit of analysis in many global change and conservation biology studies; however, species are not uniform entities but are composed of different, sometimes locally adapted, populations differing in plasticity. We examined how intraspecific variation in thermal niches and phenotypic plasticity will affect species distributions in a warming climate. We first developed a conceptual model linking plasticity and niche breadth, providing five alternative intraspecific scenarios that are consistent with existing literature. Secondly, we used ecological niche-modeling techniques to quantify the impact of each intraspecific scenario on the distribution of a virtual species across a geographically realistic setting. Finally, we performed an analogous modeling exercise using real data on the climatic niches of different tree provenances. We show that when population differentiation is accounted for and dispersal is restricted, forecasts of species range shifts under climate change are even more pessimistic than those using the conventional assumption of homogeneously high plasticity across a species' range. Suitable population-level data are not available for most species so identifying general patterns of population differentiation could fill this gap. However, the literature review revealed contrasting patterns among species, urging greater levels of integration among empirical, modeling and theoretical research on intraspecific phenotypic variation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The knowledge derived from Antarctic ecology may be fundamental to facing the complex environmental future of the world. As an early warning system, a deep understanding of Antarctic ecosystems is therefore needed, but Antarctic ecology as a field is still very young and currently under consolidation. Around the world, 55 nations are involved in this task through their research programs, and, considering the importance of this joint effort, we evaluate some basic trends of their publications through a wide bibliographical review of Antarctic ecology. All ecology-related Antarctic papers published for 106 years (1904–2010) were reviewed. A lack of population and ecosystem research was observed, even in Animalia, the most studied kingdom. The publications originated mainly in developed countries; however, emerging countries have increased their participation in recent years. The current trends of Antarctic ecology as a field show a constant but low representation in both Antarctic science and ecology.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The climbing habit is an evolutionary key innovation in plants because it is associated with enhanced clade diversification. We tested whether patterns of species divergence and variation of three ecophysiological traits that are fundamental for plant adaptation to light environments (maximum photosynthetic rate [Amax], dark respiration rate [Rd], and specific leaf area [SLA]) are consistent with this key innovation. Using data reported from four tropical forests and three temperate forests, we compared phylogenetic distance among species as well as the evolutionary rate, phylogenetic distance and phylogenetic signal of those traits in lianas and trees. Estimates of evolutionary rates showed that Rd evolved faster in lianas, while SLA evolved faster in trees. The mean phylogenetic distance was 1.2 times greater among liana species than among tree species. Likewise, estimates of phylogenetic distance indicated that lianas were less related than by chance alone (phylogenetic evenness across 63 species), and trees were more related than expected by chance (phylogenetic clustering across 71 species). Lianas showed evenness for Rd, while trees showed phylogenetic clustering for this trait. In contrast, for SLA, lianas exhibited phylogenetic clustering and trees showed phylogenetic evenness. Lianas and trees showed patterns of ecophysiological trait variation among species that were independent of phylogenetic relatedness. We found support for the expected pattern of greater species divergence in lianas, but did not find consistent patterns regarding ecophysiological trait evolution and divergence. Rd followed the species-level pattern, i.e., greater divergence/evolution in lianas compared to trees, while the opposite occurred for SLA and no pattern was detected for Amax. Rd may have driven lianas’ divergence across forest environments, and might contribute to diversification in climber clades.
PLoS ONE 06/2014; 9(6):e99871. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: QuestionsHow do climbing species richness and composition change between subtropical and temperate areas of southern South America? How do growth form (lianas and vines) and climbing mechanisms change between subtropical and temperate areas of southern South America? How much of the diversity of species and traits of the extratropical climbing flora is derived from taxa shared with the tropical region?LocationSubtropical (23–30° S) and temperate (>30° S) areas of South America.Methods
An extensive literature search was carried out in the main databases concerning the flora of southern South America. Climbing species occurrence in subtropical and temperate areas and climbing traits were retrieved. Differences in the frequencies of both growth forms and climbing mechanisms between areas were evaluated using chi-square analyses. Trait frequencies in subtropical and temperate floras were analysed with and without considering species shared with the tropical region.ResultsClimbing species richness decreased from subtropical to temperate areas, and there were changes in the taxonomic composition. The frequency of growth forms and climbing mechanisms differed between subtropical and temperate areas. Herbaceous vines accounted for 85% of temperate-exclusive species. Twiners contributed less to climber richness in the temperate area, while tendril-bearers and leaf-climbers became more important; root-climbers were only found in temperate forests. Species shared with the tropical region increase the number of liana species in both subtropical and temperate floras, but alter the frequencies of climbing mechanisms in the subtropical flora only.Conclusions
Results call for a re-evaluation of the importance that is given to climbers in regions outside the tropics. Vines must be included in models of distribution and abundance of climbers in order to gain a better understanding of climbing plant ecology. The association between climbing mechanisms and the success of climbing plant species in different ecosystems must be further investigated.
Journal of Vegetation Science 05/2014; · 2.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mimicry refers to adaptive similarity between a mimic organism and a model. Mimicry in animals is rather common, whereas documented cases in plants are rare, and the associated benefits are seldom elucidated [1, 2]. We show the occurrence of leaf mimicry in a climbing plant endemic to a temperate rainforest. The woody vine Boquila trifoliolata mimics the leaves of its supporting trees in terms of size, shape, color, orientation, petiole length, and/or tip spininess. Moreover, sequential leaf mimicry occurs when a single individual vine is associated with different tree species. Leaves of unsupported vines differed from leaves of climbing plants closely associated with tree foliage but did not differ from those of vines climbing onto leafless trunks. Consistent with an herbivory-avoidance hypothesis, leaf herbivory on unsupported vines was greater than that on vines climbing on trees but was greatest on vines climbing onto leafless trunks. Thus, B. trifoliolata gains protection against herbivory not merely by climbing and thus avoiding ground herbivores  but also by climbing onto trees whose leaves are mimicked. Unlike earlier cases of plant mimicry or crypsis, in which the plant roughly resembles a background or color pattern [4-7] or mimics a single host [8, 9], B. trifoliolata is able to mimic several hosts.
Current biology: CB 04/2014; · 10.99 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) is a photosynthetic pathway found in many plant species from arid and semiarid environments. Few studies aiming to characterise plant species as CAM or C3 account for inter-population differences in photosynthetic pathway, often relying on samples taken from herbarium material and/or a single plant or population. This may be especially problematic for species growing under contrasting climate conditions, as is the case for species with a wide geographic range. We used Puya chilensis, a species previously reported as CAM and C3, to study among-population variation in expression of the CAM pathway within its distribution range, which spans a significant climate gradient. We carried out a wide sampling scheme, including five populations and a combination of analytical methods (quantification of nocturnal acidification and stable isotope measurements). The study populations of P. chilensis encompass the entire latitudinal distribution range, from semi-arid to temperate oceanic climates. Our results indicate that CAM decreased with latitude. However, even in the southern (wetter) populations, where δ13C values were indicative of C3 metabolism, we found some nocturnal acidification. We stress the value of using two methods along with the use of samples from different populations, as this allows more reliable conclusions on the photosynthetic pathway for ‘probable’ CAM species that face varying climate conditions within their distribution ranges.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Interspecific competition plays a key role in the organisation of ant communities. In ant–plant interactions, individual host plants are usually occupied by a single ant colony, and co-occurring ant species compete for hosts. Here indirect evidence of competition between three dominant ant species that tend aphids on two biennial thistles in northern Patagonia is described, and a novel defensive behaviour in temperate ant assemblages is reported.This study has found that: (i) dominant ant species were not spatially segregated, thus enhancing the probability of fights and invasions of host plants; (ii) ant species did not show preferences for a thistle species or for any plant characteristic, and thus all plants have similar chances of being colonised by all dominant ant species; (iii) the resident ant species remained on the same plant during the whole plant life cycle, monopolising plant resources (aphids); and (iv) all dominant species, whose nests are on the ground, assigned some ants to stay on the host plant during the night, when the low temperatures typical of this temperate environment greatly reduce foraging activities. When these ‘nocturnal guards’ were experimentally removed from the host plant, other ants from the same colony rapidly appeared showing aggressive behaviours.Taking all these findings together, it is suggested that interspecific competition influences the distribution of ants on their host plants and involves nocturnal defensive behaviours despite unfavourable thermal conditions. This illustrates how habitat features, such as the short life cycle of thistles and the low night-time temperatures that reduce ant foraging and thus make plants more vulnerable to invasion, might affect the distribution and behaviour of ants.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In a current article in the Journal of Vegetation Science, Casanova-Katny et al. addressed a comment about an article by Molina-Montenegro et al., which demonstrated the climate modification induced by the macrolichen Usnea antarctica and its role as facilitator. They provided useful corrections concerning species identification and pointed out several issues that, in their view, weakened our study. They indicated that the role of U. antarctica as a facilitative species in the maritime Antarctica is merely philosophical and has no ecological relevance. In this commentary, we argue why these critiques are unsubstantial, and provide evidence that the macrolichen can modify the microclimate, ameliorating the harsh conditions prevailing in Antarctica, establishing positive interactions and eventually facilitating vascular species. Thus, the macrolichen U. antarctica would act as a ‘nurse species’, playing a key role in structuring the maritime Antarctic plant community.
Journal of Vegetation Science 12/2013; · 2.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Root climbers constitute a distinctive group within climbing plants and some evidence suggests that they are associated with high precipitation and low light availability at local scales, which is in contrast with general patterns of liana distribution in the tropics. The influence of precipitation and seasonality on the occurrence of root climbers was evaluated both globally and in the tropics. The presence/absence of root climbers was recorded in 174 sites of Alwyn H. Gentry Forest Transect Data Set. The effects of mean annual precipitation and dry-season length (and temperature) on their occurrence were analysed using logistic regressions. Root climbers were significantly more frequent in sites with greater precipitation and reduced seasonality. Increasing temperature reduced root-climber occurrence in tropical sites, but this effect was marginally significant at a global scale. Dry and open habitats appear unsuitable for root climbers. This can be explained by the susceptibility to desiccation of adventitious roots and/or the low acclimation ability of these climbers to high irradiance.
Journal of Tropical Ecology 07/2013; 29(04). · 1.48 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background and aims - Succulence, a common attribute of floras in dry regions and of species living in microenvironments with transient water shortage, has been typically viewed as an adaptive plant feature for surviving in (semi-)arid conditions. The existence of leaf succulence in a temperate cold rainforest challenges the view of its adaptive value. We studied leaf functional variation in Sarmienta repens Ruiz & Pav. (Gesneriaceae), an epiphyte living in the Valdivian forest of southern Chile.
Material and methods - We measured leaf thickness, absolute leaf water content, specific leaf area and leaf anatomy (epidermis, palisade parenchyma, and spongy parenchyma) in two distinct light microenvironments: shaded understory versus border of canopy gaps. We also characterized micro-environmental conditions in terms of light availability, temperature and water evaporation.
Key results - We show that leaves from sun conditions, the environment with higher water demand, have lower SLA (specific leaf area), thicker epidermis and store more water due to a thicker spongy parenchyma, than leaves from shade conditions.
Conclusions - We found high phenotypic variation in S. repens at intraspecific level in response to contrasting environmental conditions. This variation reflects a two-fold strategy common in epiphytes: increase water storage and reduce water loss. Furthermore, it suggests that leaf succulence has an adaptive value even in a temperate cold rainforest. We discuss that the occurrence of succulence on a cold rainforest might be explained by a combination of ecological, biogeographic and phylogenetic factors.
Plant Ecology and Evolution 07/2013; 146(1):167-172. · 1.19 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Plasticity and local adaptation have been suggested as two main mechanisms that alien species use to successfully tolerate and invade broad geographic areas. In the present study, we try answer the question if the mechanism for the broad distributional range of T. officinale is for phenotypic plasticity, ecotypic adaptation or both. For this, we used individuals of T. officinale originated from seeds collected in five localities along its latitudinal distribution range in the southern-hemisphere. Seedlings were acclimated at 5 and 25°C for one month. After the acclimation period we evaluated ecophysiological and cytogenetic traits. Additionally, we assessed the fitness at each temperature by recording the seed output of individuals from different localities. Finally, we performed a manipulative experiment in order to assess the tolerance to herbivory and competitive ability between T. officinale from all origins and Hypochaeris scorzonerae a co-occurring native species. Overall, individuals of T. officinale showed high plasticity and ecotypic adaptation for all traits assessed in this study. Changes both in physiology and morphology observed in T. officinale from different origins were mostly correlated, enhancing their ecophysiological performance in temperatures similar to those of their origin. Additionally, all localities showed the same chromosome number and ploidy level. On the other hand, all individuals showed an increase the seed output at 25°C, but those from northern localities increased more. T. officinale from all origins was not significantly affected by herbivory while native showed a negative effect. On the other hand, T. officinale exerted a strong negative effect on the native species, but this former not effected significantly to the invasive T. officinale. High plasticity and local adaptation in all ecophysiological traits, seed-set and the low cytogenetic variability in T. officinale suggests that both strategies are present in this invasive plant species and are not mutually exclusive. Finally, higher tolerance to herbivory and competitive ability suggests that T. officinale could perform successfully in environments with different climatic conditions, and thus colonize and invade South-America.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: El Niño phenomenon affects ecological processes worldwide. Oceanic island ecosystems are particularly sensitive to El Niño effects due to their dependence on energy and nutrient inputs from marine systems. Seabirds play a key role in transporting resources of marine origin to insular ecosystems. We report tree-growth patterns showing how the effects of El Niño rainy events on tree species in a Southern Pacific island depend on the presence of local seabird colonies. We performed manipulative experiments in order to assess the mechanisms underlying these patterns. Tree-ring data showed that, in normal years, the growth of all tree species (Aextoxicon punctatum, Cryptocarya alba and Pinus radiata) was significantly lower in seabird sites compared to adjacent patches without seabirds (control sites). In contrast, in El Niño years, trees formerly hosting seabird colonies grew more than those in control sites. Experiments showed that pine plants on soil from seabird sites grew more than those on soil from control sites, that pine individuals with seabird faeces on their leaves grew less than those sprayed with an aqueous solution, and that soil moisture had little effect on plant growth. The stress produced by massive cormorant nesting on trees, which impairs tree growth and physiological performance, is relieved during El Niño events because of seabird migration due to decreased prey availability and pouring rains that flood nests. Soils enriched by the seabird guano, together with the increased water availability associated with El Niño, foster the growth of trees from seabird sites. We suggest that El Niño may be a key determinant of tree performance in forest communities from island and coastal ecosystems of the Pacific Ocean.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several studies across species have linked leaf functional traits with shade tolerance. Because evolution by natural selection occurs within populations, in order to explain those interspecific patterns it is crucial to examine variation of traits associated with shade tolerance and plant fitness at an intraspecific scale. In a southern temperate rainforest, two climbing plant species coexist but differ in shade tolerance. Whereas Luzuriaga radicans is most abundant in the shaded understory, L. polyphylla typically occurs in intermediate light environments. We carried out an intraspecific approach to test the hypothesis of differential selection patterns in relation to shade tolerance in these congeneric species. The probability of showing reproductive structures increased with specific leaf area (SLA) in L. polyphylla, and decreased with dark respiration in L. radicans. When reproductive output of fertile individuals was the fitness variable, we detected positive directional selection on SLA in L. polyphylla, and negative directional selection on dark respiration and positive directional selection on leaf size in L. radicans. Total light radiation differed between the microsites where the Luzuriaga species were sampled in the old-growth forest understory. Accordingly, L. radicans had a lower minimum light requirement and showed fertile individuals in darker microsites. L. radicans showed lower dark respiration, higher chlorophyll content, and greater leaf size and SLA than L. polyphylla. Results suggest that in more shade-tolerant species, established in the darker microsites, selection would favor functional traits minimizing carbon losses, while in less shade-tolerant species, plants displaying leaf traits enhancing light capture would be selected.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In herbivorous insects, the interaction between adult preference and progeny performance on specific host plants is modified by maternal feeding experience and host plant quality. Ultimately, changes in the strength of this interaction can affect insect population dynamics. In this study, we hypothesized that adult host plant preference influences progeny performance through a maternal feeding experience × host plant interaction, that is, the effect of adult feeding experience on progeny performance will depend on the host plant. Second, that decoupling of the preference–performance relationship due to host switching results in different population vital rates changing population dynamics. An increase in development time and a decrease in body size of individuals in the alternate host should decrease population growth. We tested these hypotheses using two lines of the tortoise beetle Chelymorpha varians Blanchard fed with two hosts (Convolvulus arvensis and Calystegia sepium). Maternal feeding experience treatments were crossed with host plant species, and the offspring’s developing time and adult size were measured. The host plant influence on the beetle’s population vital rates was tested using stage-structured matrix population models and life table response experiments. Host plant preference affected offspring body size through a host plant effect that contributed to adaptive life history responses only in the better quality host. C. varians’ population growth was positive when fed with either host; comparatively, however, C. sepium had a negative effect on growth by reducing all transition probabilities of the life cycle stages of the beetle. Here, we show that individuals of C. varians prefer and perform differently on distinct hosts and that these patterns influence population vital rates in different ways. When beetles prefer the host plant where their progeny performs best, life history responses and life stage transitions lead to higher population growth; otherwise, growth rate decreases.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Antarctica is a highly interesting region for ecologists because of its extreme climatic conditions and the uniqueness of its species. In this article, we describe the trends in Antarctic ecological research participation by Latin American countries. In a survey of articles indexed by the ISI Web of Science, we searched under the categories ''Ecology'', ''Biodiversity Conservation'' and ''Evolutionary Biology'' and found a total of 254 research articles published by Latin American countries. We classified these articles according to the country of affiliation, kingdom of the study species, level of biological organization and environment. Our main finding is that there is a steady increase in the relative contribution of Latin American countries to Antarctic ecological research. Within each category, we found that marine studies are more common than terrestrial studies. Between the different kingdoms, most studies focus on animals and most studies use a community approach. The leading countries in terms of productivity were Argentina, Chile and Brazil, with Argentina showing the highest rate of increase.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Spatial variation in host plant availability may lead to specialization in host use and local host adaptation in herbivorous insects, which may involve a cost in performance on other hosts. We studied two geographically separated populations of the seed beetle Megacerus eulophus (Coleoptera: Bruchidae) in central Chile: a population from the host Convolvulus chilensis (in Aucó) and a population from C. bonariensis (in Algarrobo). In Aucó C. chilensis is the only host plant, while in Algarrobo both C. bonariensis and C. chilensis are available. We tested local adaptation to these native host plants and its influence on the use of another, exotic host plant. We hypothesized that local adaptation would be verified, particularly for the one-host population (Aucó), and that the Aucó population would be less able to use an alternative, high-quality host. We found evidence of local adaptation in the population from C. chilensis. Thus, when reared on C. chilensis, adults from the C. chilensis population were larger and lived longer than individuals from the C. bonariensis population, while bruchids from the two populations had the same body size and longevity when reared on C. bonariensis. Overall, bruchids from the C. chilensis population showed greater performance traits than those from the C. bonariensis population. There were no differences between the bruchid populations in their ability to use the alternative, exotic host Calystegia sepium, as shown by body size and longevity patterns. Results suggest that differences in local adaptation might be explained by differential host availability in the study populations.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(1):e53892. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tropical forests are experiencing structural changes that may reduce carbon storage potential. The recent increase in liana abundance and biomass is one such potential change. Lianas account for approximately 25 per cent of woody stems and may have a strong impact on tree dynamics because severe liana infestation reduces tree growth and increases tree mortality. Based on forest inventory data from 0.1 ha plots, we evaluated the association between above-ground carbon stocks and liana abundance in 145 tropical forests worldwide. Liana abundance was negatively associated with carbon stocks of large trees (greater than 10 cm diameter), while it was not related to small trees (10 cm diameter or less). Results suggest that liana abundance may have pervasive effects on carbon stocks in tropical forests, as large trees store about 90 per cent of total forest carbon. We stress the need to include liana abundance in carbon stocks estimates, as this can enhance the accuracy of predictions of global changes in tropical forests.