Rebecca J Best

Rebecca J Best
Northern Arizona University | NAU · School of Earth and Sustainability

PhD

About

41
Publications
5,831
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
857
Citations
Citations since 2016
21 Research Items
588 Citations
2016201720182019202020212022020406080100
2016201720182019202020212022020406080100
2016201720182019202020212022020406080100
2016201720182019202020212022020406080100
Additional affiliations
January 2014 - May 2016
Eawag: Das Wasserforschungs-Institut des ETH-Bereichs
Position
  • PostDoc Position
January 2013 - January 2014
University of California, Davis
Position
  • PostDoc Position
September 2007 - December 2012
University of California, Davis
Position
  • PhD Student

Publications

Publications (41)
Article
Wildfires play a vital role in ecosystems and are one of the most significant natural processes that shape the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade Mountain Ranges in northeastern California. At the same time, across the American West, a history of fire exclusion, timber salvage and harvest, and human-assisted reforestation has caused widesp...
Preprint
Selection on quantitative traits by divergent climatic conditions can lead to substantial trait variation across a species range. In the context of rapidly changing environments, however, it is equally important to understand selection on trait plasticity. To evaluate the role of selection in driving divergences in traits and their associated plast...
Article
Climate change is threatening the persistence of many tree species via independent and interactive effects on abiotic and biotic conditions. In addition, changes in temperature, precipitation, and insect attacks can alter the traits of these trees, disrupting communities and ecosystems. For foundation species such as Populus, phytochemical traits a...
Article
Full-text available
Biodiversity and ecosystem function are often correlated, but there are multiple hypotheses about the mechanisms underlying this relationship. Ecosystem functions such as primary or secondary production may be maximized by species richness, evenness in species abundances, or the presence or dominance of species with certain traits. Here, we combine...
Article
Efforts to maintain the function of critical ecosystems under climate change often begin with foundation species. In the southwestern US, cottonwood trees support diverse communities in riparian ecosystems that are threatened by rising temperatures. Genetic variation within cottonwoods shapes communities and ecosystems, but these effects may be mod...
Preprint
Full-text available
Widespread tree species span large climatic gradients that often lead to high levels of local adaptation and phenotypic divergence across their range. To evaluate the relative roles of selection and drift in driving divergence in phenotypic traits, we compared molecular and quantitative genetic variation in Populus fremontii (Fremont cottonwood), u...
Article
Full-text available
• Submerged macrophytes are important foundation species that can strongly influence the structure and functioning of aquatic ecosystems, but only little is known about the temporal variation and the timescales of these effects (i.e. from hourly, daily, to monthly). • Here, we conducted an outdoor experiment in replicated mesocosms (1,000 L) where...
Article
Full-text available
Completion of Glen Canyon Dam in 1963 resulted in complete elimination of sediment delivery from the upstream Colorado River basin to Grand Canyon and nearly complete control of spring snowmelt floods responsible for creating channel and bar morphology. Management of the river ecosystem in Grand Canyon National Park now relies on dam-release floods...
Article
Parasites can shape the structure and function of ecosystems by influencing both the density and traits of their hosts. Such changes in ecosystems are particularly likely when the host is a predator that mediates the dynamics of trophic cascades. Here, we experimentally tested how parasite load of a small predatory fish, the threespine stickleback,...
Article
Identifying traits that underlie variation in individual performance of consumers (i.e., trait utility) can help reveal the ecological causes of population divergence and the subsequent consequences for species interactions and community structure. Here, we document a case of rapid divergence (over the past 100 generations, or ∼150 years) in foragi...
Preprint
Biodiversity frequently increases ecosystem function, but there are multiple divergent hypotheses about the mechanisms underlying this relationship. Functions such as primary or secondary production may be maximized by species richness, evenness in species abundances, or the presence or dominance of species with particular traits. Here, we used sur...
Article
1.Cryptic pigmentation of prey is often thought to evolve in response to predator‐mediated selection, but pigmentation traits can also be plastic, and change with respect to both abiotic and biotic environmental conditions. In such cases, identifying the presence of, and drivers of, trait plasticity is useful for understanding the evolution of cryp...
Article
Species faced with rapidly shifting environments must be able to move, adapt, or acclimate in order to survive. One mechanism to meet this challenge is phenotypic plasticity: altering phenotype in response to environmental change. Here, we investigated the magnitude, direction, and consequences of changes in two key phenology traits (fall bud set a...
Article
The fate of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is partly determined by its availability to microbial degradation. Organisms at upper trophic levels could influence the bioavailability of DOC via cascading effects on primary producers and bacteria. Here we experimentally tested whether the presence of fish in aquatic food webs can indirectly affect the...
Article
Full-text available
Interspecific variation in resource use is critical to understanding species diversity, coexistence, and ecosystem functioning. A growing body of research describes analogous intraspecific variation and its potential importance for population dynamics and community outcomes. However, the magnitude of intraspecific variation relative to interspecifi...
Article
Evolution is a fundamental ecosystem process. The study of genomic variation of organisms can not only improve our understanding of evolutionary processes, but also of contemporary and future ecosystem dynamics. We argue that integrative research between the fields of genomics and ecosystem ecology could generate new insights. Specifically, studies...
Article
Full-text available
Dynamic interactions between ecological conditions and the phenotypic composition of populations likely play an important role in evolution, but the direction and strength of these feedbacks remain difficult to characterize. We investigated these dynamics across two generations of threespine sticklebacks from two evolutionary lineages undergoing se...
Article
Though submarine canyons are first-order topographic features of Earth, the processes responsible for their occurrence remain poorly understood. Potentially analogous studies of terrestrial rivers show that the flux and caliber of transported bedload are significant controls on bedrock incision. Here we hypothesize that coarse sediment load could e...
Article
Despite a conceptual understanding that evolution and species interactions are inextricably linked, it remains challenging to study ecological and evolutionary dynamics together over long temporal scales. In this review, we argue that, despite inherent challenges associated with reconstructing historical processes, the interplay of ecology and evol...
Article
Full-text available
Phenotypes can both evolve in response to, and affect, ecosystem change, but few examples of diverging ecosystem-effect traits have been investigated. Bony armor traits of fish are good candidates for this because they evolve rapidly in some freshwater fish populations, and bone is phosphorus rich and likely to affect nutrient recycling in aquatic...
Article
Full-text available
Explanations for the coexistence of multiple species from the same functional group or taxonomic clade frequently include fine-scale resource partitioning. However, despite the hypothesized importance of niche partitioning, we know relatively little about the underlying mechanisms. For example, differences in resource use may be fixed consequences...
Article
AimMaintenance of ecosystem function under climate change may depend on variation in the way species within functional guilds and individuals within species respond to changes in temperature. What level of variation among and within species do we need to understand, and is it predictable from distribution and trait data?LocationNorthern California,...
Article
Full-text available
Considerable research has examined the influence of herbivores on the maintenance of plant diversity, but fewer studies have examined the reciprocal effect of plant diversity on the animals that use the plant community for food and shelter, particularly in marine systems. Several mechanisms could underlie such effects. Animal diversity and abundanc...
Article
The study of community assembly processes currently involves (a) longstanding questions about the relative importance of environmental filtering vs. niche partitioning in a wide range of ecosystems, and (b) more recent questions about methodology. The rapidly growing field of community phylogenetics has generated debate about the choice between fun...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods The study of community assembly processes currently involves (a) long standing questions about the relative importance of environmental filtering vs. niche partitioning in a wide range of ecosystems, and (b) more recent questions about methodology. The rapidly growing field of community phylogenetics has generated deba...
Article
Full-text available
Increasingly, studies of community assembly and ecosystem function combine trait data and phylogenetic relationships to gain novel insight into the ecological and evolutionary constraints on community dynamics. However, the key to interpreting these two types of information is an understanding of the extent to which traits are phylogenetically cons...
Data
Full-text available
Additional 18S sequences. (PDF)
Data
Full-text available
Results of tests for phylogenetic signal with a subset of species. We report Blomberg’s K for continuous traits and Pagel’s λ for discrete traits, plus the p-value for the corresponding significance test (H0: signal no greater than 0). All values are averaged over 200 trees sampled from the posterior distribution. The power to detect significant si...
Data
Full-text available
Trait data. Panels A to K show mean trait values for each species (±1 Standard Error). Non-significant outcomes of laboratory experiments (e.g., temperature trials in panel C, feeding trials in panels D-G) are shown as 0. Panel C shows the reduction in survival time (in hours) in elevated water temperature (25°C) relative to controls. (PDF)
Article
Field studies of community assembly patterns increasingly use phylogenetic relatedness as a surrogate for traits. Recent experiments appear to validate this approach by showing effects of correlated trait and phylogenetic distances on coexistence. However, traits governing resource use in animals are often labile. To test whether feeding trait or p...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Recent approaches to understanding community composition have built on the possibility that the phylogenetic relatedness of community members might serve as an unbiased and easily obtained surrogate for ecologically relevant trait data. Several observational studies find that communities contain more distantly related...
Article
Full-text available
Seagrasses provide important habitat for fishes and invertebrates but are declining around the globe, often due to overgrowth by algae. One hypothesis for this overgrowth is that overfishing of top consumers has led to greater numbers of small predatory fishes that reduce the abundance of mesograzers. This trophic cascade hypothesis requires that t...
Article
Full-text available
BioOne sees sustainable scholarly publishing as an inherently collaborative enterprise connecting authors, nonprofit publishers, academic institutions, research libraries, and research funders in the common goal of maximizing access to critical research. BioOne (www.bioone.org) is an electronic aggregator of bioscience research content, and the onl...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Genetic diversity, like species diversity, can have substantial effects on primary and secondary productivity, nutrient cycling, and response to disturbance. However, we know relatively little about the specific mechanisms or traits that contribute to these effects, as well as how diversity among different trophic leve...
Article
Full-text available
Despite experimental evidence for effects of primary producer diversity and consumer species diversity on population and community processes, little is known about how diversity at these multiple trophic levels may interact. We conducted a mesocosm experiment to examine the independent and interactive effects of seagrass Zostera marina genotypic di...
Article
Ecology Letters (2010) 13: 194–201 A rapidly accumulating body of research has shown that species diversity consistently affects the functioning of ecosystems. The incorporation of trophic complexity and the extension of this research to larger scales and natural ranges in species diversity remain as important challenges for understanding the true...
Article
Full-text available
Mounting concern over the loss of marine biodiversity has increased the urgency of understanding its consequences. This urgency spurred the publication of many short-term studies, which often report weak effects of diversity (species richness) driven by the presence of key species (the sampling effect). Longer-term field experiments are slowly accu...
Article
Full-text available
The ability of an exotic species to establish in a system may depend not only on the invasibility of the native community, but also on its interactions with other exotic species. Though examples of mutually beneficial interactions between exotic species are known, few studies have quantified these effects or identified specific mechanisms. We used...
Article
Full-text available
Increased resource availability can facilitate establishment of exotic plant species, especially when coincident with propagule supply. Following establishment, increased resource availability may also facilitate the spread of exotic plant species if it enhances their competitive abilities relative to native species. Exotic Canada geese (Branta can...

Network

Cited By

Projects

Project (1)
Project
- How has plasticity in leaf traits evolved among locally adapted populations of Fremont cottonwood? - How do genetic vs. environmental sources of trait variation in foundation species impact dependent communities and ecosystems? - How do climate vs. herbivory shape plastic trait responses across Arizona?