Katharine N Suding

Katharine N Suding
University of California, Berkeley | UCB · Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

About

149
Publications
47,137
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12,153
Citations
Additional affiliations
July 2009 - present
University of California, Berkeley
Position
  • Professor (Associate)

Publications

Publications (149)
Article
Grasslands, which constitute almost 40% of the terrestrial biosphere, provide habitat for a great diversity of animals and plants and contribute to the livelihoods of more than 1 billion people worldwide. Whereas the destruction and degradation of grasslands can occur rapidly, recent work indicates that complete recovery of biodiversity and essenti...
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Synchronous dynamics (fluctuations that occur in unison) are universal phenomena with widespread implications for ecological stability. Synchronous dynamics can amplify the destabilizing effect of environmental variability on ecosystem functions such as productivity, whereas the inverse, compensatory dynamics, can stabilize function. Here we combin...
Article
In the face of rapid environmental change, restoration will need to emphasize innovative approaches that support the long‐term resilience of social and ecological systems. To this end, we highlight the critical, but often overlooked, role of adaptive capacity, which enables restoration practice, governance, and target ecosystems to adapt to directi...
Article
A goal in trait-based ecology is to understand and predict plant community responses to environmental change; however, diversity stored within seed banks that may expand or limit these responses is typically overlooked. If seed banks store attributes that are more advantageous or vulnerable under future conditions, they could impact community adapt...
Preprint
Global change is altering patterns of community assembly, with net outcomes dependent on species’ responses to the environment, both directly and mediated through biotic interactions. Here, we assess alpine plant community responses in a 15-year factorial nitrogen addition, warming and snow manipulation experiment. We used a dynamic competition mod...
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Plants are subject to tradeoffs among growth strategies such that adaptations for optimal growth in one condition can preclude optimal growth in another. Thus, we predicted that a plant species that responds positively to one global change treatment would be less likely than average to respond positively to another treatment, particularly for pairs...
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The presence of invasive species reduces the growth and performance of native species; however, the linear or non-linear relationships between invasive abundance and native population declines are less often studied. We examine how the amount and spatial distribution of experimental N deposition influences the relationship between non-native, invas...
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Global change alters ecosystems and their functioning, and biotic interactions can either buffer or amplify such changes. We utilized a long-term nitrogen (N) addition and species removal experiment in the Front Range of Colorado, USA to determine whether a co-dominant forb and a co-dominant grass, with different effects on nutrient cycling and pla...
Article
On the Ground •Public programs, strategies, and incentives to implement rangeland climate adaptation are more effective if they are tailored to local drought exposures, sensitivities, and adaptation opportunities. As such, local rangeland advisers who aid in climate adaptation are pivotal to the development of these resources. •We hosted a virtual...
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Within ecosystems, intra‐annual precipitation patterns – the variability and timing of rainfall – may be a stronger driver of net primary productivity than total annual precipitation. In particular, the amount and timing of precipitation directly affects the amount and timing of plant production, but also indirectly affects productivity via changes...
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To cope with uncertainty and variability in their environment, plants evolve distinct life history strategies by allocating different fractions of energy to growth, survival, and fecundity. These differences in life history strategies could potentially influence ecosystem‐level dynamics, such as the sensitivity of primary production to resource flu...
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Global change is impacting plant community composition, but the mechanisms underlying these changes are unclear. Using a dataset of 58 global change experiments, we tested the five fundamental mechanisms of community change: changes in evenness and richness, reordering, species gains and losses. We found 71% of communities were impacted by global c...
Article
Climate warming is a key factor driving species range shifts. While previous work has focused on shifts of aboveground plant communities, changes in climate and vegetation should affect soil communities and hence ecosystem-level nutrient cycling and ecosystem functioning. High alpine ecosystems are particularly sensitive to climate warming because...
Article
Recruitment of new individuals from seed is a critical component of plant community assembly and reassembly, especially in the context of ecosystem disturbance and recovery. While frameworks typically aim to predict how communities will be filtered on the basis of traits influencing established plant responses to the environment, assembly from seed...
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Synchrony is broadly important to population and community dynamics due to its ubiquity and implications for extinction dynamics, system stability, and species diversity. Investigations of synchrony in community ecology have tended to focus on covariance in the abundances of multiple species in a single location. Yet, the importance of regional env...
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Background Climate change is expected to drive trailing-edge range redistributions of arctic-alpine plant populations, bringing together immigrant plant ecotypes and soil microbial communities associated with already resident ecotypes. Aims The goal of the present study was to assess growth performance and plant–microbe interactions between seedli...
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Rapid climate warming is altering Arctic and alpine tundra ecosystem structure and function, including shifts in plant phenology. While the advancement of green up and flowering are well-documented, it remains unclear whether all phenophases, particularly those later in the season, will shift in unison or respond divergently to warming. Here, we pr...
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Ecosystems across the United States are changing in complex and surprising ways. Ongoing demand for critical ecosystem services requires an understanding of the populations and communities in these ecosystems in the future. This paper represents a synthesis effort of the U.S. National Science Foundation‐funded Long‐Term Ecological Research (LTER) n...
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Point 1: Changes in the global climate system are creating increasingly non‐analogue climate conditions with expectations of non‐stationarity among climate drivers. Decoupling amongst climate drivers complicates the assessment of ecological response to the changing climate as characteristics that could be once treated as a suite of conditions now n...
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Understanding how global change drivers (GCDs) affect aboveground net primary production (ANPP) through time is essential to predicting the reliability and maintenance of ecosystem function and services in the future. While GCDs, such as drought, warming and elevated nutrients, are known to affect mean ANPP, less is known about how they affect inte...
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Climate warming is expected to stimulate plant growth in high-elevation and high-latitude ecosystems, significantly increasing aboveground net primary production (ANPP). However, the effects of simultaneous changes in temperature, snowmelt timing, and summer water availability on total net primary production (NPP)-and elucidation of both above-and...
Article
Fluctuations in population abundances are often correlated through time across multiple locations, a phenomenon known as spatial synchrony. Spatial synchrony can exhibit complex spatial structures, termed ‘geographies of synchrony’, that can reveal mechanisms underlying population fluctuations. However, most studies have focused on spatial extents...
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New evidence from over 4,600 studies calls into question the universal application of critical threshold values, or tipping points, along gradients of environmental stress. Identifying never-to-exceed environmental targets may prove elusive for environmental policy and management.
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As organisms shift their geographic distributions in response to climate change, biotic interactions have emerged as an important factor driving the rate and success of range expansions. Plant‐microbe interactions are an understudied but potentially important factor governing plant range shifts. We studied the distribution and function of microbes...
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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...
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A key challenge to understanding the effects of climate change and nutrient deposition on ecosystem functioning is our lack of knowledge about nutrient limitations of heterotrophic and phototrophic microbial communities. This is especially true in high elevation ecosystems where it has been shown that earlier melt-out of snow beds and glacial retre...
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While it is well established that microbial composition and diversity shift along environmental gradients, how interactions among microbes change is poorly understood. Here, we tested how community structure and species interactions among diverse groups of soil microbes (bacteria, fungi, non-fungal eukaryotes) change across a fundamental ecological...
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Aims Plant-microbe interactions are crucial components of ecosystem development but are understudied during early succession. The goal of this study was to investigate species-specific effects of plants on unvegetated soils being colonized by plants as climate changes, and assess how plant-soil feedbacks influence plant succession. Methods We used...
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Environmental variability can structure species coexistence by enhancing niche partitioning. Modern coexistence theory highlights two fluctuation‐dependent temporal coexistence mechanisms —the storage effect and relative nonlinearity – but empirical tests are rare. Here, we experimentally test if environmental fluctuations enhance coexistence in a...
Preprint
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Understanding the mechanisms governing ecological stability - why a property such as primary productivity is stable in some communities and variable in others - has long been a focus of ecology. Compensatory dynamics, in which anti-synchronous fluctuations between populations buffer against fluctuations at the community level, is a key theoretical...
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Plant‐soil feedback (PSF) theory provides a powerful framework for understanding plant dynamics by integrating growth assays into predictions of whether soil communities stabilise plant–plant interactions. However, we lack a comprehensive view of the likelihood of feedback‐driven coexistence, partly because of a failure to analyse pairwise PSF, the...
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Atmospheric nitrogen and sulfur pollution increased over much of the United States during the twentieth century from fossil fuel combustion and industrial agriculture. Despite recent declines, nitrogen and sulfur deposition continue to affect many plant communities in the United States, although which species are at risk remains uncertain. We used...
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In the version of this Article originally published, the following sentence was missing from the Acknowledgements: “This work was supported by the Norwegian Research Council SnoEco project, grant number 230970”. This text has now been added.
Article
Understanding processes that determine biodiversity is a fundamental challenge in ecology. At the landscape scale, physical alteration of ecosystems by organisms, called ecosystem engineering, enhances biodiversity worldwide by increasing heterogeneity in resource conditions and enhancing species coexistence across engineered and non‐engineered hab...
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Advancing phenology is one of the most visible effects of climate change on plant communities, and has been especially pronounced in temperature-limited tundra ecosystems. However, phenological responses have been shown to differ greatly between species, with some species shifting phenology more than others. We analysed a database of 42,689 tundra...
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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and dark septate endophytes (DSE) are two fungal groups that colonize plant roots and can benefit plant growth, but little is known about their landscape distributions. We performed sequencing and microscopy on a variety of plants across a high-elevation landscape featuring plant density, snowpack, and nutrient gr...
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We use a quantitative model of photosynthesis to explore leaf‐level limitations to plant growth in an alpine tundra ecosystem that is expected to have longer, warmer, and drier growing seasons. The model is parameterized with abiotic and leaf trait data that is characteristic of two dominant plant communities in the alpine tundra and specifically a...
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Understanding why some species are common and others are rare is a central question in ecology, and is critical for developing conservation strategies under global change. Rare species are typically considered to be more prone to extinction—but the fact they are rare can impede a general understanding of rarity vs. abundance. Here we develop and em...
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Motivation: The Tundra Trait Team (TTT) database includes field‐based measurements of key traits related to plant form and function at multiple sites across the tundra biome. This dataset can be used to address theoretical questions about plant strategy and trade‐offs, trait–environment relationships and environmental filtering, and trait variation...
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Fungal root endophytes play an important role in plant nutrition, helping plants acquire nutrients in exchange for photosynthates. We sought to characterize the progression of root colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), dark septate endophytes (DSE), and fine root endophytes (FRE) over an alpine growing season, and to understand the ro...
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The tundra is warming more rapidly than any other biome on Earth, and the potential ramifications are far-reaching because of global feedback effects between vegetation and climate. A better understanding of how environmental factors shape plant structure and function is crucial for predicting the consequences of environmental change for ecosystem...
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An unprecedented era of climatic volatility is altering ecosystems across our planet1. The potential scale, pace and consequences of this global change have been modelled extensively2, yet little empirical research has quantified the impacts of extreme climate events on the composition of contemporary ecological communities. Here, we quantified the...
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Resilience theory is increasingly applied to the management of global change impacts. There is growing concern, however, that misapplications of resilience-based management (RBM) can sometimes lead to undesirable outcomes. We address here an inescapable conundrum in the application of resilience theory: systems will need to track environmental chan...
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Despite decades of interest, few studies have provided evidence supporting theoretical expectations for coupled relationships between aboveground and belowground diversity and ecosystem functioning in non‐manipulated natural ecosystems. We characterized plant species richness and density, soil bacterial, fungal and eukaryotic species richness and p...
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The distributions of biomes worldwide are predicted to shift as vegetation tracks climate change. Ecologists often use coarse-scale climate models to predict these shifts along broad elevational and latitudinal gradients, but these assessments could fail to capture important dynamics by ignoring fine-scale heterogeneity. We ask how the elevational...
Article
Seed-borne microbes are important pathogens and mutualists in agricultural crops but are understudied in natural systems. To understand the diversity and function of seed-borne fungi in alpine tundra, we cultured fungi from seeds of six dominant plant species prior to seed dispersal and evaluated their function using germination experiments in Zea...
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A major impact of global climate change is the decline of mosses and lichens and their replacement by vascular plants. Although we assume this decline will greatly affect ecosystem functioning, particularly in alpine and arctic areas where cryptogams make a substantial amount of biomass, the effects of this change in vegetation on soil microbial co...
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Managers are increasingly looking to apply concepts of resilience to better anticipate and understand conservation and restoration in a changing environment. In this study, we explore how information on demography (recruitment, growth and survival) and competitive effects in different environments and with different starting species abundances can...
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Understanding spatial distributions of invasive plant species at early infestation stages is critical for assessing the dynamics and underlying factors of invasions. Recent progress in very high resolution remote sensing is facilitating this task by providing high spatial detail over whole-site extents that are prohibitive to comprehensive ground s...
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Successful colonization by invasive species depends on both the ability to disperse seeds to a site and an ability to establish once seeds have arrived. While seed and establishment limitation are known to jointly influence colonization, decomposing establishment limitation into density-dependent and density-independent components has remained chal...
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One primary goal at the intersection of community ecology and global change biology is to identify functional traits that are useful for predicting plant community response to global change. We used observations of community composition from a long-term field experiment in two adjacent plant communities (grassland and coastal sage shrub) to investi...
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Neotropical rainforests are global biodiversity hotspots and are challenging to restore. A core part of this challenge is the very long recovery trajectory of the system: recovery of structure can take 20–190 years, species composition 60–500 years, and reestablishment of rare/endemic species thousands of years. Passive recovery may be fraught with...