Benjamin Blonder

Benjamin Blonder
University of California, Berkeley | UCB · Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

PhD (ecology and evolutionary biology, University of Arizona)

About

129
Publications
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Publications

Publications (129)
Article
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Portable gas exchange analyzers provide critical data for understanding plant‐atmosphere carbon and water fluxes, and for parameterizing Earth system models that forecast climate change effects and feedbacks. We characterized temperature measurement errors in the LI‐COR LI‐6400XT and LI‐6800, and estimated downstream errors in derived quantities, i...
Article
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Research in global change ecology relies heavily on global climatic grids derived from estimates of air temperature in open areas at around 2 m above the ground. These climatic grids do not reflect conditions below vegetation canopies and near the ground surface, where critical ecosystem functions occur and most terrestrial species reside. Here, we...
Article
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Pathways to extinction start long before the death of the last individual. However, causes of early stage population declines and the susceptibility of small residual populations to extirpation are typically studied in isolation. Using validated process-explicit models, we disentangle the ecological mechanisms and threats that were integral in the...
Article
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The cover image is based on the Letter Process‐explicit models reveal pathway to extinction for woolly mammoth using pattern‐oriented validation by Damien A. Fordham et al., https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.13911. Image Credit: Mauricio Anton.
Article
Mapping geographic mosaics of genetic variation and their consequences via genotype x environment interactions at large extents and high resolution has been limited by the scalability of DNA sequencing. Here we address this challenge for cytotype (chromosome copy number) variation in quaking aspen, a drought-impacted foundation tree species. We int...
Article
Species responses to climate change depend on environment, genetics, and interactions among these factors. Intraspecific cytotype (ploidy level) variation is a common type of genetic variation in many species. However, the importance of intraspecific cytotype variation in determining demography across environments is poorly known. We studied the tr...
Article
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Accumulating evidence suggests that ecological communities undergoing change in response to either anthropogenic or natural disturbances exhibit macroecological patterns that differ from those observed in similar types of communities in relatively undisturbed sites. In contrast to such cross‐site comparisons, however, there are few empirical studie...
Article
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Aim Climate is usually regarded as the main determinant of plant species distributions. However, past human use of species for food might also have influenced distributions. We hypothesized that human‐mediated dispersal has resulted in food plants occupying more of their potential geographical range. We also hypothesized that key ecological traits...
Article
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Background and aims Ultramafic soils have high metal concentrations, offering a key opportunity to understand if such metals are strong predictors of leaf stoichiometry. This is particularly relevant for tropical forests where large knowledge gaps exist. Methods On the tropical island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, we sampled forests on sand, limestone,...
Preprint
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Research in environmental science relies heavily on global climatic grids derived from estimates of air temperature at around 2 meter above ground1-3. These climatic grids however fail to reflect conditions near and below the soil surface, where critical ecosystem functions such as soil carbon storage are controlled and most biodiversity resides4-8...
Preprint
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Processes leading to the megafauna extinctions of the late Pleistocene and early-Holocene are uncertain, with intense debate on the roles of human hunting and climatic change. Using process-explicit simulations of climate-human-woolly mammoth interactions, which integrate spatiotemporal evidence from fossils and ancient DNA, we show that humans acc...
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The sizes and shapes of tree crowns are of fundamental importance in ecology, yet understanding the forces that determine them remains elusive. A cardinal question facing ecologists is the degree to which general and non-specific vs. ecological and context-dependent processes are responsible for shaping tree crowns. Here, we test this question for...
Article
Leaf vein network geometry can predict levels of resource transport, defence, and mechanical support that operate at different spatial scales. However, it is challenging to quantify network architecture across scales, due to the difficulties both in segmenting networks from images, and in extracting multi-scale statistics from subsequent network gr...
Article
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Aim The functional trait composition of plant communities is thought to be determined largely by climate, but relationships between contemporary trait distributions and climate are often weak. Spatial mismatches between trait and climatic conditions are commonly thought to arise from disequilibrium responses to past environmental changes. We aimed...
Article
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Many plant water use models predict leaves maximize carbon assimilation while minimizing water loss via transpiration. Alternate scenarios may occur at high temperature, including heat avoidance, where leaves increase water loss to evaporatively cool regardless of carbon uptake; or heat failure, where leaves non‐adaptively lose water also regardles...
Article
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Leaf energy balance may influence plant performance and community composition. While biophysical theory can link leaf energy balance to many traits and environment variables, predicting leaf temperature and key driver traits with incomplete parameterizations remains challenging. Predicting thermal offsets (δ, Tleaf – Tair difference) or thermal cou...
Article
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Point 1: In recent years the availability of airborne imaging spectroscopy (hyperspectral) data has expanded dramatically. The high spatial and spectral resolution of these data uniquely enable spatially explicit ecological studies including species mapping, assessment of drought mortality, and foliar trait distributions. However, we have barely be...
Article
Leaf venation networks evolved along several functional axes, including resource transport, damage resistance, mechanical strength, and construction cost. Because functions may depend on architectural features at different scales, network architecture may vary across spatial scales to satisfy functional tradeoffs. We develop a framework for quantif...
Preprint
Full-text available
Leaf vein network geometry can predict levels of resource transport, defence, and mechanical support that operate at different spatial scales. However, it is challenging to quantify network architecture across scales, due to the difficulties both in segmenting networks from images, and in extracting multi-scale statistics from subsequent network gr...
Article
Full-text available
It is controversial whether communities are saturated with species, or have vacant niches. The prevalence of vacant niches and the processes likely to promote their existence are poorly known. We used a process‐based forest gap‐model to simulate plant community dynamics in 11 sites along a climatic gradient across central Europe. We then used hyper...
Article
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The majority of variation in six traits critical to the growth, survival and reproduction of plant species is thought to be organised along just two dimensions, corresponding to strategies of plant size and resource acquisition. However, it is unknown whether global plant trait relationships extend to climatic extremes, and if these interspecific r...
Article
Invader success and ecosystem impact are both expected to be largely driven by the functional trait distinctiveness of the resident species relative to the invaded communities. To understand the importance of trait distinctiveness for plant invasions, and the native community's trait response to the invasion, it is key to measure multiple traits si...
Article
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Logging and habitat fragmentation impact tropical forest ecosystems in numerous ways, perhaps the most striking of which is by altering the temperature, humidity, and light environment of the forest—its microclimate. Because local-scale microclimatic conditions directly influence the physiology, demography and behavior of most species, many of the...
Article
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Plant traits—the morphological, anatomical, physiological, biochemical and phenological characteristics of plants—determine how plants respond to environmental factors, affect other trophic levels, and influence ecosystem properties and their benefits and detriments to people. Plant trait data thus represent the basis for a vast area of research sp...
Article
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Climate change is a worldwide threat to biodiversity and ecosystem structure, functioning, and services. To understand the underlying drivers and mechanisms, and to predict the consequences for nature and people, we urgently need better understanding of the direction and magnitude of climate‐change impacts across the soil–plant–atmosphere continuum...
Preprint
Full-text available
The sizes and shapes of tree crowns are of fundamental importance in ecology, yet understanding the forces that determine them remains elusive. A cardinal question facing ecologists is the degree to which general and non-specific versus ecological and context-dependent processes are responsible for shaping tree crowns. Here, we test this question f...
Article
Full-text available
Plant community response to climate change ranges from synchronous tracking to strong mismatch. Explaining this variation in climate change response is critical for accurate global change modeling. Here we quantify how closely assemblages track changes in climate (match/mismatch) and how broadly climate niches are spread within assemblages (narrow/...
Article
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Ploidy level in plants may influence ecological functioning, demography, and response to climate change. However, measuring ploidy level typically requires intensive cell or molecular methods. We map ploidy level variation in quaking aspen, a dominant North American tree species that is usually diploid or triploid and that grows in spatially extens...
Article
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The data set contains images of leaf venation networks obtained from tree species in Malaysian Borneo. The data set contains 726 leaves from 295 species comprising 50 families, sampled from 8 forest plots in Sabah. Image extents are approximately 1 × 1 cm, or 50 megapixels. All images contain a region of interest in which all veins have been hand‐t...
Article
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1.Ecosystem processes are driven by both environmental variables and the attributes of component species. The extent to which these effects are independent and/or dependent upon each other has remained unclear. We assess the extent to which climate affects net primary productivity (NPP) both directly and indirectly via its effect on plant size and...
Article
1.The network of minor veins of angiosperm leaves may include loops (reticulation). Variation in network architecture has been hypothesized to have hydraulic and also structural and defensive functions. 2.We measured venation network trait space in eight dimensions for 136 biomass-dominant angiosperm tree species along a 3,300 m elevation gradient...
Article
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Aim Plant functional groups are widely used in community ecology and earth system modelling to describe trait variation within and across plant communities. However, this approach rests on the assumption that functional groups explain a large proportion of trait variation among species. We test whether four commonly used plant functional groups rep...
Article
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Plant functional traits directly affect ecosystem functions. At the species level, trait combinations depend on trade-offs representing different ecological strategies, but at the community level trait combinations are expected to be decoupled from these trade-offs because different strategies can facilitate co-existence within communities. A key r...
Article
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Tropical forest leaf albedo (reflectance) greatly impacts how much energy the planet absorbs; however; little is known about how it might be impacted by climate change. Here, we measure leaf traits and leaf albedo at ten 1-ha plots along a 3,200-m elevation gradient in Peru. Leaf mass per area (LMA) decreased with warmer temperatures along the elev...
Article
Full-text available
Plant functional traits directly affect ecosystem functions. At the species level, trait combinations depend on trade-offs representing different ecological strategies, but at the community level trait combinations are expected to be decoupled from these trade-offs because different strategies can facilitate co-existence within communities. A key q...
Article
Full-text available
Robust predictions of ecosystem responses to climate change are challenging. To achieve such predictions, ecology has extensively relied on the assumption that community states and dynamics are at equilibrium with climate. However, empirical evidence from Quaternary and contemporary data suggest that species communities rarely follow equilibrium dy...
Article
Leaf temperature (T leaf) influences rates of respiration, photosynthesis, and transpiration. The local slope of the relationship between T leaf and T air , β, describes leaf thermal responses. A range of values have been observed, with β < 1 indicating limited homeothermy where T leaf increases at a lower rate than T air , β = 1 indicating poikilo...
Article
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Microclimate within forests influences ecosystem fluxes and demographic rates. Anthropogenic disturbances, such as selective logging can affect within-forest microclimate through effects on forest structure, leading to indirect effects on forests beyond the immediate impact of logging. However, the scope and predictability of these effects remains...
Article
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The functional composition of plant communities is commonly thought to be determined by contemporary climate. However, if rates of climate‐driven immigration and/or exclusion of species are slow, then contemporary functional composition may be explained by paleoclimate as well as by contemporary climate. We tested this idea by coupling contemporary...
Article
Predicting the structure and dynamics of communities is difficult. Approaches linking functional traits to niche boundaries, species co‐occurrence and demography are promising, but have so far had limited success. We hypothesized that predictability in community ecology could be improved by incorporating more accurate measures of fine‐scale environ...
Article
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Neotropical fruit species once dispersed by Pleistocene megafauna have regained relevance in diversifying human diets to address malnutrition. Little is known about the historic interactions between humans and these fruit species. We quantified the human role in modifying geographic and environmental ranges of Neotropical fruit species by comparing...
Poster
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The relationships between functional traits are thought to be strong at global global scales and consistent across species and biomes. However, leaf economic spectrum (LES) relationships may not express the same relationships at smaller scales, because factors and processes affecting traits locally might be different, that in turn can blur the LES...
Article
Full-text available
The network of minor veins of angiosperm leaves may include loops (reticulation). Variation in network architecture has been hypothesized to have hydraulic and also structural and defensive functions. 2.We measured venation network trait space in eight dimensions for 136 biomass-dominant angiosperm tree species along a 3,300 m elevation gradient in...
Article
Full-text available
Despite several recent efforts to map plant traits and to identify their climatic drivers, there are still major gaps. Global trait patterns for major functional groups, in particular, the differences between woody and herbaceous plants, have yet to be identified. Here, we take advantage of big data efforts to compile plant species occurrence and t...
Chapter
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Plants are strongly influenced by their surrounding environment, which makes them reliable indicators of climate and ecology. The relationship between climate, ecology, plant traits and the geographic distribution of plants based on their climatic tolerances have been used to develop plant-based proxies for reconstructing paleoclimate and paleoecol...
Article
Plant functional traits directly affect ecosystem functions. At the species level, trait combinations depend on trade-offs representing different ecological strategies, but at the community level trait combinations are expected to be decoupled from these trade-offs because different strategies can facilitate co-existence within communities. A key q...
Article
Full-text available
Our ability to understand and predict the response of ecosystems to a changing environment depends on quantifying vegetation functional diversity. However, representing this diversity at the global scale is challenging. Typically, in Earth system models, characterization of plant diversity has been limited to grouping related species into plant fun...
Article
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High resolution spectroscopy can be used to measure leaf chemical and structural traits. Such leaf traits are often highly correlated to other traits, such as photosynthesis through the, leaf economics spectrum. We measured VNIR (visible – near infrared) leaf reflectance (400-1075nm) of sunlit and shaded leaves in ~150 dominant species across ten 1...
Article
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Tropical elevation gradients are natural laboratories to assess how changing climate can influence tropical forests. However, there is a need for theory and integrated data collection to scale from traits to ecosystems. We assess predictions of a novel trait-based scaling theory, including whether observed shifts in forest traits across a broad tro...
Article
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Diversity among scientists can foster better science (1, 2), yet engaging and retaining a diversity of students and researchers in science has been difficult (3). Actions that promote diversity are well defined (4), organizations are increasingly focused on diversity (5), and many institutions are developing initiatives to recruit and enroll studen...
Article
Hutchinson's n-dimensional hypervolume concept for the interpretation of niches as geometric shapes has provided a foundation for research across different fields of ecology and evolution. There is now an expanding set of applications for hypervolume concepts, as well as a growing set of statistical methods available to operationalize this concept...
Preprint
Full-text available
Plants are strongly influenced by their surrounding environment, which makes them reliable indicators of climate and ecology. The relationship between climate, ecology, plant traits and the geographic distribution of plants based on their climatic tolerances have been used to develop plant-based proxies for reconstructing paleoclimate and paleoecol...
Article
Full-text available
Hutchinson's n-dimensional hypervolume concept underlies many applications in contemporary ecology and evolutionary biology. Estimating hypervolumes from sampled data has been an ongoing challenge due to conceptual and computational issues. 2.We present new algorithms for delineating the boundaries and probability density within n-dimensional hyper...
Article
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Heinz Ellenberg classically defined “indicator” scores for species representing their typical positions along gradients of key environmental variables, and these have proven very useful for designating ecological distributions. We tested a key tenent of trait-based ecology, i.e. the ability to predict ecological preferences from species’ traits. Mo...
Article
Hypervolume approaches are used to quantify functional diversity and quantify environmental niches for species distribution modelling. Recently, Qiao et al. (2016) criticized our geometrical kernel density estimation (KDE) method for measuring hypervolumes. They used a simulation analysis to argue that the method yields high error rates and makes b...