Dylan G Fischer

Dylan G Fischer
The Evergreen State College · Department of Ecology

PhD

About

61
Publications
8,451
Reads
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3,524
Citations
Citations since 2017
12 Research Items
1206 Citations
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Introduction
My research addresses patterns in forest ecology, plant community ecology, plant-soil feedbacks, community and ecosystem genetics, ecosystem water use, forest carbon cycling, and nitrogen availability.
Additional affiliations
September 2005 - present
The Evergreen State College
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
June 2005 - present
The Evergreen State College
Position
  • Genes to Ecosystems
June 2002 - present
The Evergreen State College
Position
  • Minirhizotron Analysis using a CID 600 root scanner
Education
June 2001 - May 2005
Northern Arizona University
Field of study
  • Ecosystem Science
May 1999 - May 2001
Northern Arizona University
Field of study
  • Forest Science
September 1995 - June 1998
Oregon State University
Field of study
  • Environmental Science

Publications

Publications (61)
Article
Full-text available
Several processes bury plants, but sediment can also be subsequently removed, often by delayed erosion. Thus, the ability to survive multiple years of burial and to respond when released are important to vegetation changes and population dynamics. We experimentally evaluated the effects of delayed removal of tephra (aerially transported volcanic ej...
Article
Full-text available
Airborne volcanic ejecta (tephra) can strongly influence forest ecosystems through initial disturbance processes and subsequent ecological response. Within a tephra-disturbed forest, large trees may promote plant growth and create favorable sites for colonization. Three primary ways trees can influence posteruption vegetation response include: (1)...
Article
Forest understory herbs exhibit a large range of variation in morphology and life history. Here we expand the reported range of variation by describing the belowground structures of two very different species, Xerophyllum tenax and Chimaphila umbellata. We excavated individuals in forests of the Cascade Mountains, Pacific Northwest, USA. Xerophyllu...
Article
Forest disturbance is usually described by effects on trees, and small disturbances to forest understory are seldom studied. Nevertheless, effective analyses of succession need to consider both stand-replacing and subsequent “secondary” disturbances in both canopy and understory. We estimated characteristics of 13 types of secondary disturbance in...
Preprint
Full-text available
Airborne volcanic ejecta (tephra) can strongly influence forest ecosystems through initial disturbance processes and subsequent ecological response. Within a tephra-disturbed forest, large trees may promote plant growth and create favorable sites for colonization. Three primary ways trees can influence post-eruption vegetation response include: 1)...
Article
Responses in bryophyte communities following volcanic disturbance are not well understood. The eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980 deposited large amounts of tephra (aerially transported volcanic ejecta) on nearby forests in southwestern Washington and presented an opportunity to examine bryophyte succession, with a focus on mosses. We exa...
Article
Full-text available
Genetic variation within a dominant riparian forest tree affects susceptibility to a leaf-galling aphid (Pemphigus betae), which induces phytochemical and structural changes in leaf tissue. Research Highlights: We show here that these changes to tree leaf tissue alter adjacent in-stream leaf litter decomposition rates and the aquatic macroinvertebr...
Article
Full-text available
While individual tree genotypes are known to differ in their impacts on local soil development, the spatial genetic influence of surrounding neighboring trees is largely unknown. We examine the hypothesis that fine root dynamics of a focal tree is based on the genetics of the focal tree as well as the genetics of neighbor trees that together define...
Article
Full-text available
Aims In forest ecosystems, trees may have genetically distinct patterns in leaf decomposition. Trees also can have genetically distinct canopy environments which modify temperature, moisture, and microbial communities on the forest floor. The interaction between these factors may result in underexplored interactions between microenvironment and lea...
Article
Full-text available
1.Studies of succession have a long history in ecology, but rigorous tests of general, unifying principles are rare. One barrier to these tests of theory is the paucity of longitudinal studies that span the broad gradients of disturbance severity that characterize large, infrequent disturbances. The cataclysmic eruption of Mount St. Helens (Washing...
Article
1.Successional change following disturbance is a fundamental ecological process that remains central to understanding patterns in plant ecology. Although succession has been studied for well over a century, understanding of the patterns and processes of change is still inadequate, partly because of the dearth of long‐term studies. 2.Here, we use, a...
Article
Ecological impacts of climate change in the Pacific Northwest may hinge on acclimation to drier summers, highlighting the importance of plant physiological studies in forests. Evaluating dominant forest plant species under old-growth and managed forest conditions is similarly important as timber harvest might change microclimates and alter drought...
Article
Large volcanic eruptions can alter forest plant communities through a variety of mechanisms, including direct destruction of forests and changes to forest soils through tephra (aerially transported volcanic ejecta) deposits. While many studies have examined succession following direct destruction of forests, impacts to plant communities through tep...
Article
Numerous studies have demonstrated biodiversity-productivity relationships in plant communities, and analogous genetic diversity-productivity studies using genotype mixtures of single species may show similar patterns. Alternatively, competing individuals among genotypes within a species are less likely to exhibit resource-use complementarity, even...
Article
Full-text available
Biodiversity at many scales (functional group, species, genetic) can result in emergent ecological patterns. Here we explore the influence of tree genotypic variation and diversity on in-stream ecosystem processes and aquatic communities. We test whether genetically diverse inputs of leaf litter interact with a keystone organism, anadromous salmon,...
Article
Full-text available
Studies in Pacific Northwest riparian forests highlight the role of forest management in conserving target species, but rarely consider impacts on interspecies relationships such as pollination. We investigated plant-pollinator interactions among a native species of rove beetle, Pelecomalius testaceum, and a widespread native wetland plant species...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods In riparian environments, leaf litter inputs provide crucial sources of organic matter to riparian soils and subsidies of carbon and nutrients to in-stream communities. The physical nature of these environments means leaf litter may decompose in place (under donor canopies) or be transported downstream to decompose und...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Prescribed fire has been used extensively as a prairie restoration tool, but its specific impacts on prairie plant communities are not always interpreted within a spatially or evolutionarily explicit framework. For example, plant community responses to fire can be related to both treatment scale and the selective impac...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Our understanding of mercury cycling in Pacific Northwest forests has been limited by insufficient sampling, though recent models suggest that terrestrial ecosystems in this region of the USA may experience elevated rates of mercury deposition. We investigated mercury storage in second growth temperate rain forest soil...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Ecosystem response to large disturbances, such as volcanic eruptions, is likely to depend on pre-disturbance conditions and pre-existing vegetation. Here, we compare the response of clear-cut and old-growth forest understory plant communities to disturbance produced by tephra deposits from the eruption of Mount St. Hel...
Article
Full-text available
Background In the face of climate change, shifts in genetic structure and composition of terrestrial plant species are occurring worldwide. Because different genotypes of these plant species support different soil biota and soil processes, shifts in genetics are likely to have cascading effects on ecosystems. Scope We explore plant genetic effects...
Article
Full-text available
In highly invaded ecosystems, restoration of native plant communities is dependent upon reducing exotic species relative to native species. Even so, in monitoring, the native–exotic species richness ratio has been shown to be scale-dependent. Measurement at small spatial scales (<1 m2) can reveal a negative native–exotic richness relationship, wher...
Article
Riparian ecosystems support mosaics of terrestrial and aquatic plant species that enhance regional biodiversity and provide important ecosystem services to humans. Species composition and the distribution of functional traits – traits that define species in terms of their ecological roles – within riparian plant communities are rapidly changing in...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Cottonwood trees of the southwestern USA occupy a vital niche in riparian ecosystems, and their genetic variation has been shown to be important for a myriad of dependent community members and ecosystem processes. Despite widespread historical extirpation and habitat destruction in southwestern riparian systems, cotton...
Article
Soil carbon dioxide (CO(2)) efflux is a major component of terrestrial carbon (C) cycles; yet, the demonstration of covariation between overstory tree genetic-based traits and soil C flux remains a major frontier in understanding biological controls over soil C. Here, we used a common garden with two native tree species, Populus fremontii and P. an...
Article
Full-text available
While aboveground biomass and forest productivity can vary over abiotic gradients (e.g., temperature and moisture gradients), biotic factors such as biodiversity and tree species stand dominance can also strongly influence biomass accumulation. In this study we use a permanent plot network to assess variability in aboveground carbon (C) flux in for...
Chapter
Plant secondary metabolites (PSMs) such as terpenes and phenolic compounds are known to have numerous ecological roles, notably in defence against herbivores, pathogens and abiotic stresses and in interactions with competitors and mutualists. This book reviews recent developments in the field to provide a synthesis of the function, ecology and evol...
Chapter
Full-text available
There is increasing evidence that the structure and functioning of ecological communities and ecosystems are strongly influenced by flexible traits of individuals within species. A deep understanding of how trait flexibility alters direct and indirect species interactions is crucial for addressing key issues in basic and applied ecology. This book...
Article
Full-text available
Marine-derived nutrients from salmon carcasses and leaf litter inputs from riparian vegetation may interactively support stream biodiversity and ecosystem functioning through enhanced resource heterogeneity. Using a full-factorial design of single- and mixed-species litters, we tested for influences of salmon carcasses on in-stream litter decomposi...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding germination requirements of native species is an important component of restoration in south Puget Lowland prairies (Washington, USA). We conducted an experiment to determine the effects of pre-germination treatment and germination temperature conditions on the proportional germination of three species of Lupinas. For one species, Lup...
Article
Full-text available
We evaluate prairie plant community variation in a matrix of restoration treatments in the south Puget Lowland, WA. Native and exotic plant community diversity and composition were measured across areas that differed in burning history and grass-specific herbicide application, having received one to several treatments since 2002. All plots were als...
Article
1. Phyllosphere interactions are known to influence a variety of tree canopy community members, but less frequently have they been shown to affect processes across ecosystem boundaries. Here, we show that a fungal endophyte (Rhytisma punctatum) slows leaf litter decomposition of a dominant riparian tree species (Acer macrophyllum) in an adjacent st...
Chapter
Full-text available
The emerging field of community and ecosystem genetics has so far focused on how the genetic variation in one species can influence the composition of associated communities and ecosystem processes such as decomposition (see definitions in Table 3–1; reviews by Whitham et al. 2003, 2006; Johnson&Stinchcombe 2007; Hughes et al. 2008). A key componen...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding covariance of plant genetics and soil processes may improve our understanding the role of plant genetics in structuring soils and ecosystem function across landscapes. We measured soil nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) availability using ion exchange resin bags within three river drainages across Utah and Arizona, USA. The three drainag...
Article
Full-text available
The growing field of community and ecosystem genetics indicates that plant genotype and genotypic variation are important for structuring communities and ecosystem processes. Little is known, however, regarding the effects of stand gene diversity on soil communities and processes under field conditions. Utilizing natural genetic variation occurring...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods We report on efforts to integrate curricular activities with research on diversity and forest above-ground net primary productivity (ANPP), carbon (C) stocks, net soil CO2 efflux rate (NCER), and fine root production (FRP) in a temperate rainforest permanent plot network near the Puget Sound, Washington, USA. Measuremen...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Examinations of relationships between diversity and productivity in second-growth forests are important because these forest types are increasingly common at the landscape level (as less old-growth remains), and tree diversity can vary between monoculture plantations to functionally-diverse species mixtures. In order to...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods We utilized a site in the eastern Washington Cascades subject to fire exclusion for > 100 years to examine relationships between ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) above-ground forest structure and below-ground fine root mass. Much of the research conducted on P. ponderosa forests has focused on quantifying above-ground s...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Background/Question/Methods In this study we used a matrix of restoration management practices in a glacial outwash prairie south of the Puget Sound in Washington to evaluate treatments of fire and herbicide as well as the legacy effects of the N-fixing non-native species Cytisus scoparius on prairie plant communities. We measured plant community...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Two major forms of allochthonous inputs are important for Pacific Northwest streams: leaf litter and salmon carcasses. Although much is known about these two input types in isolation, few studies have examined their interaction, and no studies have examined interactions between salmon carcasses and genetically distinct...
Article
Full-text available
Demonstration of genetic control over riparian tree productivity has major implications for responses of riparian systems to shifting environmental conditions and effects of genetics on ecosystems in general. We used field studies and common gardens, applying both molecular and quantitative techniques, to compare plot-level tree aboveground net pri...
Article
Full-text available
Using two genetic approaches and seven different plant systems, we present findings from a meta-analysis examining the strength of the effects of plant genetic introgression and genotypic diversity across individual, community and ecosystem levels with the goal of synthesizing the patterns to date. We found that (i) the strength of plant genetic ef...
Article
Full-text available
Research that connects ecosystem processes to genetic mechanisms has recently gained significant ground, yet actual studies that span the levels of organization from genes to ecosystems are extraordinarily rare. Utilizing foundation species from the genus Populus, in which the role of condensed tannins (CT) has been investigated aboveground, belowg...
Article
Although soil microbial communities are known to play crucial roles in the cycling of nutrients in forest ecosystems and can vary by plant species, how microorganisms respond to the subtle gradients of plant genetic variation is just beginning to be appreciated. Using a model Populus system in a common garden with replicated clones of known genotyp...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the local and regional patterns of species distributions has been a major goal of ecological and evolutionary research. The notion that these patterns can be understood through simple quantitative rules is attractive, but while numerous scaling laws exist (e.g., metabolic, fractals), we are aware of no studies that have placed individ...
Article
Here, soil CO(2) efflux, minirhizotron fine root production (FRP), and estimated total below-ground carbon allocation (TBCA) were examined along an elevation and hybridization gradient between two cottonwood species. FRP was 72% greater under high-elevation Populus angustifolia, but soil CO(2) efflux and TBCA were 62% and 94% greater, respectively,...
Article
Full-text available
The well-known deceleration of nitrogen (N) cycling in the soil resulting from addition of large amounts of foliar condensed tannins may require increased fine-root growth in order to meet plant demands for N. We examined correlations between fine-root production, plant genetics, and leaf secondary compounds in Populus angustifolia, P. fremontii, a...
Article
Full-text available
Can heritable traits in a single species affect an entire ecosystem? Recent studies show that such traits in a common tree have predictable effects on community structure and ecosystem processes. Because these 'community and ecosystem phenotypes' have a genetic basis and are heritable, we can begin to apply the principles of population and quantita...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In January 2006, ecological monitoring efforts began on ca. 850 acres of forest on The Evergreen State College Campus in Olympia, Washington. The goal of this project was to establish a framework for long-term ecological monitoring and to collect baseline information on forest structure and animal communities found on The Evergreen State College ca...
Article
Full-text available
Studies have demonstrated that some riparian trees may switch their reliance on surface soil water (unsaturated or vadose zone) to groundwater (saturated zone) sources during the growing season in association with changes in moisture availability. A closely related question is: How do these trees respond to pulse increases in water availability in...
Article
Full-text available
Genetic variation in dominant species can affect plant and ecosystem functions in natural systems through multiple pathways. Our study focuses on how genetic variation in a dominant riparian tree (Populus fremontii, P. angustifolia and their natural F1 and backcross hybrids) affects whole-tree water use, and its potential ecosystem implications. Th...
Article
Full-text available
We present evidence that the heritable genetic variation within individual species, especially dominant and keystone species, has community and ecosystem consequences. These consequences represent extended phenotypes, i.e., the effects of genes at levels higher than the population. Using diverse examples from microbes to vertebrates, we demonstrate...
Article
Full-text available
We measured sap flux in Pinus ponderosa Laws. and Pinus flexilis James trees in a high-elevation meadow in northern Arizona that has been invaded by conifers over the last 150 years. Sap flux and environmental data were collected from July 1 to September 1, 2000, and used to estimate leaf specific transpiration rate (El), canopy conductance (Gc) an...
Article
"May 2001." Thesis (M.S.)--Northern Arizona University, 2001. Includes bibliographical references and abstract.
Article
"May 2005." Includes bibliographical references and abstract. Thesis (Ph.D.) -- Northern Arizona University, 2005.

Questions

Question (1)
Question
What is the most influential paper in genes-to-ecosystems research that you have read in the past year and why?

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
This project aims to better understand the role large, surviving trees have on vegetation recovery following a massive volcanic disturbance event in a temperate rainforest in the southern hemisphere (Chile).
Archived project
This project aims to monitor bird populations and community structure in 320 ha area of regenerating (logged ca. 80 years ago) lowland temperate rainforest in Western Washington.