Begoña Peco

Begoña Peco
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid | UAM · Departamento de Ecologia

PhD

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138
Publications
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Introduction
Skills and Expertise

Publications

Publications (138)
Preprint
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Ecological theory posits that temporal stability patterns in plant populations are associated with differences in species ecological strategies. However, empirical evidence is lacking about which traits, or trade-offs, underlie species stability, specially across different ecosystems. To address this, we compiled a global collection of long-term pe...
Preprint
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Analysing temporal patterns in plant communities is extremely important to quantify the extent and the consequences of ecological changes, especially considering the current biodiversity crisis. Long-term data collected through the regular sampling of permanent plots represent the most accurate resource to study ecological succession, analyse the s...
Article
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The next reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the period 2021- 2027 (currently extended to 2023-2030) requires the approval by the European Commission of a Strategic Plan with environmental objectives for each Member State. Here we use the best available scientific evidence on the relationships between agricultural practices and bi...
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Questions Compensatory dynamics are described as one of the main mechanisms that increase community stability, e.g. where decreases of some species on a year‐to‐year basis are offset by an increase in others. Deviations from perfect synchrony between species (asynchrony) have therefore been advocated as an important mechanism underlying biodiversit...
Article
The stability of ecological communities is critical for the stable provisioning of ecosystem services, such as food and forage production, carbon sequestration, and soil fertility. Greater biodiversity is expected to enhance stability across years by decreasing synchrony among species, but the drivers of stability in nature remain poorly resolved....
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The stability of ecological communities is critical for the stable provisioning of ecosystem services, such as food and forage production, carbon sequestration, and soil fertility. Greater biodiversity is expected to enhance stability across years by decreasing synchrony among species, but the drivers of stability in nature remain poorly resolved....
Article
Agricultural intensification is one of the main drivers of species loss worldwide, but there is still a lack of information about its effect on functional diversity of arable weed communities. Using a large scale pan European study including 786 fields within 261 farms from eight countries, we analysed differences in the taxonomic and functional di...
Article
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Frugivorous birds vary in seed dispersal effectiveness (SDE) depending on their body mass. It has been suggested that large birds are more effective dispersers than small ones because they consume a large number of fruits, disperse seeds of distinct sizes, and transport seeds over long distances. Yet, few studies have evaluated the impact of body m...
Article
1. Both intra-and interspecific differences in traits may modulate interactions between plants. Two mechanisms are hypothesized to regulate these effects: competitive hierarchies and trait dissimilarities, but it is unclear how the prevalence of each might depend on environmental conditions and on intra and interspecific differences. 2. We sowed s...
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Habitat fragmentation is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity conservation and ecosystem productivity mediated by direct human impact. Its consequences include genetic depauperation, comprising phenomena such as inbreeding depression or reduction in genetic diversity. While the capacity of wild and domestic herbivores to sustain long-distanc...
Preprint
Full-text available
Habitat fragmentation is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity conservation and productivity, that are mediated by direct human impact. Its consequences include genetic depauperation, including phenomena such as inbreeding depression or reduction in genetic diversity. While the capacity of wild and domestic herbivores to sustain long-distance...
Preprint
Habitat fragmentation is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity conservation and productivity, that are mediated by direct human impact. Its consequences include genetic depauperation, including phenomena such as inbreeding depression or reduction in genetic diversity. While the capacity of wild and domestic herbivores to sustain long-distance...
Article
Full-text available
Cada vez es más frecuente que las comunidades de herbívoros estén compuestas por especies nativas y exóticas. Las especies exóticas, con una historia reciente de coexistencia entre ellas y con las especies nativas, presentarían menos estrategias de reparto de recursos que las especies nativas, que co-evolucionaron juntas y establecieron relaciones...
Article
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The communities of herbivores are more frequently composed of native and exotic species. Exotic species, with a recent history of co-occurrence among them and with native species, would exhibit less resource distribution strategies than native species, which co-evolved together establishing relationships between them and their environment. Aiming t...
Article
Extensive livestock grazing is a global land use activity that has numerous social, cultural, and environmental benefits. Many marginal zones grazed for centuries are now suffering from abandonment, which has been found to be interrelated with species and functional diversity loss, and has potential consequences for the provision of ecosystem servi...
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One of the main steps in road and railway embankment restoration is the spreading of previously removed topsoil, which provides an input of seeds, organic matter and microorganisms and encourages the establishment of a vegetation cover, essential to stabilise the embankment and blend it with the landscape. However, topsoil is a scarce resource, pro...
Article
How does grazing affect taxonomic diversity and functional structure of Mediterranean grassland communities? How do spatial and inter-annual variations in water availability, as a proxy for productivity, modulate grazing effects? Are shifts in taxonomic diversity systematically mirrored by analogous changes in functional diversity along these gradi...
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1. Increasing land use intensification is leading to biodiversity losses worldwide, which can reduce the functioning of ecosystems. However, it is increasingly clear that not all species are equally important for ecosystem processes: whereas the loss of a functionally unique species may reduce the capacity of the community to perform some functions...
Article
Due to the high content of viable seeds, topsoil is usually spread on ground left bare during railway and motorway construction to facilitate the regeneration of vegetation cover. However, during handling of the topsoil, seeds are often buried deeply and they cannot germinate or the seedlings cannot emerge from depth. This study experimentally expl...
Article
Depending on their response to grazing, grassland species can be categorized as grazing increasers or decreasers. Grazing by livestock includes several different activities that can impact species differently. Recent evidence suggest that one of these actions, dung deposition, can reduce the germinative performance of decreaser species, thus favour...
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QuestionsHow do inter-annual fluctuations in water availability affect the functional trait patterns along spatial gradients of resource availability and disturbance?LocationMediterranean grasslands in central Spain, near Madrid.Methods We surveyed plant communities from 66 sites under different grazing regimes (from heavy grazing to grazing abando...
Article
Ecologists use approaches based on plant functional traits to tackle several fundamental and applied questions. Although a perfect characterization of functional trait structure requires the measurement of all the individuals in communities, this is prohibitively resource-consuming. Consequently, the general practice is to average the trait values...
Article
Birds are important seed dispersers for fleshy fruits through their transportation of ingested seeds. The seeds of many species germinate faster and in greater proportions after passing through a digestive tract, although the effects of this passage vary amongst bird and plant species. Many factors determine the germination success of ingested seed...
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The construction of linear transport infrastructure has severe effects on ecosystem functions and properties, and the restoration of the associated roadslopes contributes to reduce its impact. This restoration is usually approached from the perspective of plant cover regeneration, ignoring plant-soil interactions and the consequences for plant grow...
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It is commonly accepted that species interactions such as granivory are more intense in the tropics. However, this has rarely been tested. A global dataset of post-dispersal seed removal by invertebrates and vertebrates for 79 native plant species from semi-natural and natural terrestrial habitats ranging from 55° N to 45° S, was compiled from the...
Article
Full-text available
Birds are important seed dispersers for fleshy fruits through their transportation of ingested seeds. The seeds of many species germinate faster and in greater proportions after passing through a digestive tract, although the effects of this passage vary amongst bird and plant species. Many factors determine the germination success of ingested seed...
Article
Livestock exerts direct and indirect effects on plant communities, changing colonization and extinction rates of species and the surrounding environmental conditions. There is scarce knowledge on how and to what extent these effects control the floristic and functional composition of plant communities in grasslands. We performed an experiment that...
Article
Drove roads are the traditional corridors used by pastoralists for seasonal movements of livestock (transhumance). They cover a considerable land area in Mediterranean countries and, although they are an obvious source of landscape diversity, their influence on the diversity and composition of animal assemblages has not been documented. Ant communi...
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Thelytokous parthenogenesis is a type of sex determination in which females are produced from unfertilized eggs. Genetic and endosymbiont-induced forms of thelytoky have been described in the Hymenoptera. Our study has revealed that Wolbachia, Cardinium, Spiroplasma and other endosymbionts are probably absent in Iberian populations of Harvester ant...
Article
Scattered trees in agricultural landscapes are globally declining due to the intensification of agricultural practices. Dehesas, highly species-diverse Mediterranean open woodlands, are seriously affected by this decline, because of a generalized regeneration failure of oak, which compromise their long-term stability. Traditionally, dehesas were th...
Article
GoalsTo analyze the relative importance for litter decomposition rates of the type of roadslope, topsoil addition and the chemical composition of litter from grasses and legumes commonly used in roadslope restoration, and assess the implications for roadslope restoration and management.Methods Decomposition rates of four grasses and four legumes (l...
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Most plant species have a range of traits that deter herbivores. However, understanding of how different defences are related to one another is surprisingly weak. Many authors argue that defence traits trade off against one another, while others argue that they form coordinated defence syndromes. We collected a dataset of unprecedented taxonomic an...
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As medium-sized herbivores, the exotic Lepus europaeus (European hare) and the native Dolichotis pata- gonum (mara) have been considered ecological equivalents. These species coexist in Ischigualasto Provincial Park, a hyper-arid ecosystem with scarce food resources. Our ob- jective was to evaluate diet composition, relationship be- tween diets and...
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What are the effects of traditional drove roads on landscape pattern and plant communities? Madrid Autonomous Region, Central Spain. We selected four study localities in different landscape units. Within each locality, we selected eight sites and within each site, we established three 1-ha plots, each corresponding to one of three situations: drove...
Article
Question What are the effects of traditional drove roads on landscape pattern and plant communities? Location Madrid Autonomous Region, Central Spain. Methods We selected four study localities in different landscape units. Within each locality, we selected eight sites and within each site, we established three 1-ha plots, each corresponding to one...
Article
Full-text available
1. Changes in livestock grazing regimes are among the most important drivers of species loss and decrease in functional diversity world-wide. However, taxonomic and functional diversi-ties (TD and FD) can respond differently to changes in grazing regime or productivity. 2. We surveyed plant communities from 67 sites under different grazing regimes...
Article
Question: Previous studies show that large-seeded species increase their abundance in Mediterranean annual grasslands in growing seasons with dry autumns. One possible explanation is that large-seeded species have larger seed-lings, which provide an advantage under drier conditions. We address the following questions: is seed mass correlated with s...
Article
Topsoil removed during linear infrastructure construction is one of the most valuable resources for the ecological restoration of roadslopes, as it contains high concentrations of micro-organisms, nutrients and seeds. During construction work, topsoil is stockpiled in a way that can harm seed germination and survival capacity. In order to assess th...
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Full-text available
1. Abandonment of traditional activities in the rural areas is widespread in the developed world, and in the case of grazing, it is known to have negative consequences on the diversity of plant communities. Few studies have examined the impact of grazing abandonment on fauna, which in the case of ants is of considerable interest, given their useful...
Article
Cytisus scoparius (L) Link (Fabaceae) is a broom species of European origin introduced both acciden-tally and as an ornamental plant to Australia, New Zealand and America, where it is classified as a noxious invasive species. One of its main seed predators is Exapion (Exapion) fuscirostre (Fabricius), a weevil with a Palearctic distribution and whi...
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Delaying senescence as a response to tissue losses has been reported in some studies, but there is no information about its influence in growth compensation. We performed a first test of the relative contribution of delaying senescence after defoliation to growth compensation in Dactylis glomerata L. by means of an iterative growth analysis modifie...
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On the basis of previous research, we predict that Mediterranean grasslands should show larger-seeded annuals in: (1) more-arid grasslands; (2) more-fertile soils; (3) less-grazed grasslands; and (4) grasslands with lower intensities of seed predation by ants. To test these predictions, we set 29 sampling units of 50 m × 50 m in a 1000 km2 grasslan...
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Defining plant communities in desert zones is difficult due to large scale homogeneity and small scale heterogeneity, thus making provision of systematic information for conservation decisions problematic. We analysed plant communities of the most arid sector of Monte Desert for structure, plant composition and environmental variables. Small-scale...
Article
Seed dispersal involves several complex stages that can be affected by multiple peripheral processes. Thus, a major dispersal event can be followed by secondary dispersal, which can reduce density-dependent mortality and consolidate the dispersal phase. But predation events can also follow, and predation of seeds in feces is particularly interestin...
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Resource availability is an important factor affecting the capacity of compensatory growth after grazing. We performed a greenhouse experiment with Poa bulbosa, a small perennial grass of the Mediterranean and Central Asian grasslands, to test the importance of nutrient availability for compensatory growth after clipping. We also compared the resul...
Article
Grassland plant species have traditionally been classified into two groups, increasers and decreasers, based on changes in their relative abundance in the presence or absence of grazing. However, the ecophysiological mechanisms underlying these opposing strategies remain unclear. Seeds of ten Mediterranean species of known grazing status were germi...
Article
Full-text available
Defining plant communities in desert zones is difficult due to large scale homogeneity and small scale heterogeneity, thus making provision of systematic information for conservation decisions problematic. We analysed plant communities of the most arid sector of Monte Desert for structure, plant composition and environmental variables. Small-scale...
Article
Full-text available
Questions: 1. Do harvester ants (Messor barbarus) promote seed mortality in Mediterranean grassland?; 2. Is this effect greater in large-seeded species? Location: Central Spain. Methods: We established an ant-exclusion experiment of five circular (1.5 m diameter) plots from where ants were excluded during one year, along with ten control plots. We...
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Questions: 1. Do disturbances by harvester ants (Messor barbarus L.) affect soil properties? 2. Do they alter seed distribution? 3. Do they show a different species composition? 4 Are these changes related to seed size (length and weight)?Location: Mediterranean grasslands in central Spain, near Madrid.Methods: We recorded autumn seed banks and spr...
Article
Question: Are seed size and plant size linked to species responses to inter-annual variations in rainfall and rainfall distribution during the growing season in annual grasslands? Location: A 16-year data set on species abundance in permanent plots 15 km north of Madrid in a Quercus ilex subsp. ballota dehesa. Methods: At species level, a GLM was u...
Article
1. An international group of scientists has built an open internet data base of life-history traits of the Northwest European flora (the LEDA-Traitbase) that can be used as a data source for fundamental research on plant biodiversity and coexistence, macro-ecological patterns and plant functional responses. 2. The species-trait matrix comprises re...
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Mammalian herbivores can play a role in the endozoochorous dispersal of Prosopis seeds in the arid zones of Argentina, and the introduction of exotic mammals can change relevant parameters of the plant's reproductive ecology. Our specific goals were to quantify the seeds of Prosopis flexuosa, P. chilensis and P. torquata contained in the faeces of...
Article
Morphological traits of diaspores that can predict their potential attachment to animal coats may help to model epizoochory in plant populations and communities. The present study tested the role of seed mass, shape and the presence of dispersal structures in the attachment potential of a sample of 14 abundant species in Mediterranean grassland and...
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This paper analyses the effect of microclimatic factors (internal soil temperature, surface temperature and surface relative humidity) on surface activity of Messor barbarus harvester ants. We selected 44 colonies in an area of Mediterranean grassland near Madrid (Central Spain), which were monitored for activity between March 1998 and September 19...
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Lavandula stoechas subsp. pedunculata regeneration depends exclusively on the establishment of new individuals. Seed availability and seedling emergence and survival are therefore critical life stages and processes for species regeneration. In this study, seedling emergence and survival was monitored for two years in the scrub, both in clearings an...
Article
Large amounts of viable seeds from Mediterranean grassland species have been found in herbivore dung; however which species produce seeds that can survive and germinate after ingestion by herbivores is still not well understood. This paper evaluates the importance of seed size, shape and coat impermeability in the endozoochorous dispersal process o...
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The role of harvester ants in Mediterranean grassland and scrubland has mostly focused on seed consumption. However, recent studies have reported their role as accidental dispersal agents of some of the collected seeds via refuse piles. The objective of this study is to examine the effect of the ant Messor barbarus on seed availability and dispersa...