Natalie A. Clay

Natalie A. Clay
Louisiana Tech University | Louisiana Tech · Department of Biological Sciences

PhD

About

31
Publications
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Introduction
Natalie A. Clay currently works at the Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana Tech University. Natalie does research in Entomology and Ecology.

Publications

Publications (31)
Article
Nutritional ecology of ropical ecosystems like Neotropical savannas, which are of high conservation concern, is understudied. Sodium is essential for heterotrophs but availability often falls short relative to plant consumer requirements. Savanna plant consumers like ants and termites should be sodium-limited due to high temperatures, nutrient-poor...
Article
Global salinization is impacting both terrestrial and freshwater systems. Riparia link these systems and are likely impacted by increased sodium, but impacts are understudied. The sodium ecosystem respiration hypothesis posits that increased sodium under sodium-limitation should stimulate decomposition. We tested this hypothesis in an inland subtro...
Article
Terrestrial and freshwater secondary salinization is a global phenomenon arising partially from anthropogenic activities. How low-level direct (e.g., sodium exposure through irrigation runoff) or indirect (e.g., sodium exposure through sodium-enriched leaves as riparian plants uptake sodium that via senescence enters detrital systems) impacts detri...
Article
Full-text available
Bark beetles and root weevils can impact forests through tree death on landscape scales. Recently, subterranean termites have been linked to these beetles via the presence of bluestain fungi (Ascomycota: Ophiostomataceae), which are vectored to trees by beetles. However, only a small subset of bluestain species have been examined. Here, we tested w...
Article
In Focus: Kaspari, M., Welti, E. A. R., & de Beurs, K. M. (2020). The nutritional geography of ants: Gradients of sodium and sugar limitation across North American grasslands. Journal of Animal Ecology, 89, 276-284. Biologically essential elements and macromolecules impact individuals to ecosystems and vary across space. Predictive frameworks for u...
Article
Secondary freshwater salinization, a common anthropogenic alteration, has detrimental, lethal and sub-lethal effects on aquatic biota. Ions from secondary salinization can become toxic to terrestrial and aquatic organisms when exposed to salinized runoff that causes periodic high-concentration pulses. Gradual, low-level (less than 1000 ppm salinity...
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Full-text available
Bark beetle outbreaks are increasing in frequency and intensity, generating massive inventories of dead trees globally. During attacks, trees are pre-inoculated with ophiostomatoid fungi via bark beetles, which has been shown to increase termite presence and feeding. These events may, in turn, alter biogeochemical cycles during decomposition. We ex...
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Full-text available
1. Energy fluxes between ants and plants have been a focal point for documenting mutualistic behaviour. Plants can provide resources to ants through the production of extrafloral nectaries. In exchange, ants can fertilise plants through their nutrient‐ and microbe‐rich refuse. 2. Here, we test a potential facultative mutualism between the carton‐ne...
Article
Toward understanding the geography of omnivory, we tested three hypotheses that predict the proportion of animal tissue consumed: The Sodium Limitation Hypothesis predicts that omnivores increase animal consumption in Na-poor environments because Na bioaccumulates from plants to predators; thus, heterotrophs are Na-rich sources. The Nitrogen Limita...
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Many bluestain (ophiostomatoid) fungi are inoculated into trees via bark beetle activity, but their ecological roles are not fully understood, particularly for interactions with invertebrates outside bark beetle and phoretic mite associations. Recently, correlational field studies and small-scale laboratory feeding trials have demonstrated subterra...
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Large, pulsed sodium chloride (NaCl) additions can increase mortality of aquatic biota, but longer-term effects from low-level additions are less understood. Small ionic increases may alleviate sodium (Na) limitation or osmoregulatory stress, thereby increasing microbial respiration and macroinvertebrate consumption and growth. We manipulated NaCl...
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We studied the Thermal Performance Curves (TPCs) of 87 species of rainforest ants and found support for both the Thermal Adaptation and Phosphorus-Tolerance hypotheses. TPCs relate a fitness proxy (here, worker speed) to environmental temperature. Thermal Adaptation posits that thermal generalists (ants with flatter, broader TPCs) are favored in th...
Article
We studied the Thermal Performance Curves (TPCs) of 87 species of rainforest ants and found support for both the Thermal Adaptation and Phosphorus-Tolerance hypotheses. TPCs relate a fitness proxy (here, worker speed) to environmental temperature. Thermal Adaptation posits that thermal generalists (ants with flatter, broader TPCs) are favored in th...
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Full-text available
Nutrient pulses can profoundly impact ecosystem processes and urine is a frequently deposited source of N and K, and Na. Na is unimportant to plants, but its addition can increase decomposition and change invertebrate community structure in Na-poor tropical forests. Here we used synthetic urine to separate the effects of Na from urine’s other nutri...
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Full-text available
The Thermal Adaptation hypothesis posits that the warmer, aseasonal tropics generates populations with higher and narrower thermal limits. It has largely been tested among populations across latitudes. However, considerable thermal heterogeneity exists within ecosystems: across 31 trees in a Panama rainforest, surfaces exposed to sun were 8 °C warm...
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Understanding individual nutritional requirements can generate good predictions for how communities should be structured over gradients of nutrient availability. Sodium (Na) bioaccumulates from plants to predators: it is relatively unimportant for plants, which concentrate very little Na in their tissues, but critical for consumers, which concentra...
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Full-text available
Added Na was used to determine whether litter decomposition and associated fungal biomass and termites are limited by Na availability in a lowland tropical rainforest at Yasuni, Ecuador. This is a partial test of the ''sodium ecosystem respiration'' (SER) hypothesis that posits Na is critical for consumers but not plants, that Na shortfall is more...
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Aboveground consumers can shape belowground processes by serving as conduits for resources. Social insects dominate in terms of biomass in tropical forests, but compared to studies on large mammals, or aggregate solitary insects, we know relatively little about the role of social insects as nutrient conduits particularly in complex environments lik...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Detrital food webs have an abundance of omnivores. However, the mechanisms driving omnivore abundance and diet are not well understood. Nitrogen-limitation is one hypothesis for increased heterotroph consumption relative to plants. However, many arthropods obtain N from N-fixing endosymbionts. An alternative hypothesis...
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Full-text available
Litter arthropod abundance in tropical forests is patchily distributed in space and time. This patchiness can be described by three general hypotheses relating plant-based effects to litter arthropod distribution. The tree hypothesis (H1) posits that environments maintained underneath tree canopies are different from those between canopies in ways...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods The relative roles of bottom-up and top-down forces in brown food webs remains idiosyncratic and often based on observational studies. We experimentally tested the relative impact of two concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous and two generalist predators--lycosid spiders and Pheidole sp. ants--on decomposition and...
Conference Paper
Ecosystem processes in terrestrial habits may be heavily influenced by consumer-driven linkages between aboveground and belowground systems. Consumption in aboveground food webs can have profound effects on belowground systems and processes such as decomposition, but the importance of such linkages are generally difficult to assess because the impa...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods For cursorial central-place foragers such as ants, tropical forest canopies present abundant, plant-based carbohydrate resources embedded in a network of relatively linear substrates. Consequently, arboreal ants forage and interact with each other on highly exposed pathways. Here we examine how characteristics of two com...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods In nutrient-poor environments, the addition of essential nutrients can have profound impacts on ecosystem processes. Urine provides nutrients that can increase decomposition, alter nutrient cycling, and change community structure. Urine is a point source fertilizer largely containing nitrogen (N) and potassium (K), but a...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Litter arthropods are patchily distributed in tropical forests. The tree template hypothesis posits that tree species, through differences in litter traits such as volume, chemistry and structure can account for this patchiness in arthropod distribution, hence determine the structure of litter communities. The ecosyste...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Ecosystem function in terrestrial systems often depends on linkages between aboveground and belowground processes. Links between aboveground and belowground systems can have disproportionate impacts on ecosystem function if nutrients produced or released in one subsystem (e.g., labile carbon through photosynthesis) lim...
Conference Paper
Essential nutrients, such as Na, are physiologically important and limit individual metabolic activity. Nutrient availability affects not only individual behavior but can shape whole ecological communities through bottom-up processes. Because predators consume high-Na diets whereas herbivores and detritivores obtain very little Na from their diets...
Article
Full-text available
1. Physically complex substrates impart significant costs on cursorial central-place foragers in terms of time spent outside the nest and total distance travelled. Ants foraging in trees navigate varied surfaces to access patchy resources, thus providing an appropriate model system for examining interactions between foraging efficiency and substrat...
Article
Full-text available
Sodium (Na) is uncommon in plants but essential to the metabolism of plant consumers, both decomposers and herbivores. One consequence, previously unexplored, is that as Na supplies decrease (e.g., from coastal to inland forests), ecosystem carbon should accumulate as detritus. Here, we show that adding NaCl solution to the leaf litter of an inland...

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