Francesco de Bello's research while affiliated with University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice and other places

Publications (229)

Article
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Within-species variation is a key component of biodiversity and linking it to climatic gradients may significantly improve our understanding of ecological processes. High variability can be expected in plant traits, but it is unclear to which extent it varies across populations under different climatic conditions. Here, we investigated seed trait v...
Article
1. With the potential extinction of threatened species, communities and species pools could become functionally and phylogenetically impoverished, especially if threatened species had distinct traits and evolutionary histories compared to least concern species. Alternatively, threatened species would have similar traits and evolutionary histories,...
Poster
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Trait-based biodiversity experiments (TBBE) are an important tool to understand the role of plant communities on ecosystem functions and stability. Although, specific care is needed in designing of such experiments. The design should not only aim for maximizing the range of communities´ functional metrics, but also consider natural and random assem...
Article
Major dimensions of plant ecological strategies have been widely studied bringing forward the concept of ‘economic spectra’ of plants. Sexual reproductive traits, ‘floral traits’, have been largely neglected in this context, despite their strong link to fitness. Here, we aimed at integrating floral traits into the dimensionality of plant form and f...
Article
While biodiversity is expected to enhance multiple ecosystem functions (EFs), the different roles of multiple biodiversity dimensions remain difficult to disentangle without carefully designed experiments. We sowed plant communities with independent levels of functional (FD) and phylogenetic diversities (PD), combined with different levels of ferti...
Conference Paper
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Biodiversity experiments are a widespread tool to understand key mechanisms on how natural and semi-natural communities respond to climate change and the role of biodiversity on ecosystem functions and stability. More recently, experiments have also taken into account species` functional traits, although specific care is needed in designing trait-b...
Preprint
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Ecological theory posits that temporal stability patterns in plant populations are associated with differences in species’ ecological strategies. However, empirical evidence is lacking about which traits, or trade-offs, underlie species stability, specially across different ecosystems. To address this, we compiled a global collection of long-term p...
Article
Analysing temporal patterns in plant communities is extremely important to quantify the extent and the consequences of ecological changes, especially considering the current biodiversity crisis. Long‐term data collected through the regular sampling of permanent plots represent the most accurate resource to study ecological succession, analyse the s...
Article
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Purpose Plant species diversity is expected to affect multiple ecosystem functions, such as soil nitrogen (N) availability. However, this effect may be related to the ecological differentiation between coexisting species, often expressed as either functional diversity (FD; diversity in traits) or phylogenetic diversity (PD; diversity in phylogeneti...
Article
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Phenotypic plasticity is essential for organisms to adapt to local ecological conditions. It is expected that mutualistic interactions, such as arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis, mediate plant phenotypic plasticity, although it is not clear to what extent this plasticity may be heritable (i.e. transgenerational plasticity). We tested for plant...
Preprint
An accumulating body of evidence indicates that natural plant populations harbour a large diversity of transposable elements (TEs). TEs provide genetic and epigenetic variation that can substantially translate into changes in plant phenotypes. Despite the wealth of data on the ecological and evolutionary effects of TEs on plant individuals, we have...
Preprint
Full-text available
Analysing temporal patterns in plant communities is extremely important to quantify the extent and the consequences of ecological changes, especially considering the current biodiversity crisis. Long-term data collected through the regular sampling of permanent plots represent the most accurate resource to study ecological succession, analyse the s...
Article
Full-text available
Aims Understanding fine-grain diversity patterns across large spatial extents is fundamental for macroecological research and biodiversity conservation. Using the GrassPlot database, we provide benchmarks of fine-grain richness values of Palaearctic open habitats for vascular plants, bryophytes, lichens and complete vegetation (i.e., the sum of the...
Article
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PurposePlant belowground storage traits are important for mediating environmental stress, but their role in response to water availability and their coordination with above-ground traits is largely unknown. We predicted a coordination of conservative above- and belowground traits and preferential storage of water-soluble carbohydrates in the drier...
Article
Aims The link between spectral diversity and in-situ plant biodiversity is one promising approach for using remote sensing for biodiversity assessment. Nevertheless, there is little evidence to whether this link is maintained at fine scales, as well as to how it is influenced by vegetation’s vertical complexity. Here we test, at community level in...
Article
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Trait‐based ecology has developed fast in the last decades, aiming to both explain mechanisms of community assembly, and predict patterns in nature, such as the effects of biodiversity shifts on key ecosystem processes. This body of work has stimulated the development of several conceptual frameworks and analytical methods, as well as the productio...
Article
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Understanding how functional and phylogenetic patterns vary among scales and along ecological gradients within a given species pool is critical for inferring community assembly processes. However, we lack a clear understanding of these patterns in stressful habitats such as Mediterranean high mountains where ongoing global warming is expected to af...
Article
Under global change, how biological diversity and ecosystem services are maintained in time is a fundamental question. Ecologists have long argued about multiple mechanisms by which local biodiversity might control the temporal stability of ecosystem properties. Accumulating theories and empirical evidence suggest that, together with different popu...
Article
Competitive exclusion is to be expected between phylogenetically similar species that share traits and resources. However, species may overcome this, either through differentiation of their responses to biotic and abiotic conditions, or by trait differentiation, thus enabling their coexistence. We identified differences in phenotypic traits between...
Article
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Background and aims: The observed positive diversity effect on ecosystem functioning has been scarcely assessed in terms of intraspecific trait variability within populations. Intraspecific phenotypic variability could stem both from underlying genetic diversity and plasticity in response to environmental cues. The latter might derive from modific...
Article
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Increased drought is predicted to have a major impact on plant performance under environmental change. Yet leaf hydraulic traits directly related to drought tolerance, such as leaf turgor loss point (πtlp), are underrepresented in trait‐based studies and have been largely overlooked within the main frameworks evaluating trait–trait coordination and...
Book
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Handbook of Trait-Based Ecology - From Theory to R Tools Functional ecology is the branch of ecology that focuses on various functions that species play in the community or ecosystem in which they occur. This accessible guide offers the main concepts and tools in trait-based ecology, and their tricks, covering different trophic levels and organism...
Article
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Although one-quarter of plant and vertebrate species are threatened with extinction, little is known about the potential effect of extinctions on the global diversity of ecological strategies. Using trait and phylogenetic information for more than 75,000 species of vascular plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and freshwater fish, we chara...
Article
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Phenotypic plasticity, within and across generations (transgenerational plasticity), allows organisms and their progeny to adapt to the environment without modification of the underlying DNA. Recent findings suggest that epigenetic modifications are important mediators of such plasticity. However, empirical studies have, so far, mainly focused on p...
Article
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Aims Ecological theories predict that assembly processes shape communities so that coexisting species may either be functionally more dissimilar (‘divergence’) or more similar (‘convergence’) than expected by chance. Two important factors that are rarely considered in combination are spatial scale and successional stage. Our aim is to identify diff...
Article
Functional trait differences between species are key drivers of community assembly and ecosystem functioning. Quantifying these differences routinely requires using approaches like the Gower distance to combine multiple types of traits into a multi‐trait dissimilarity. Without special care, the Gower distance can however produce a multi‐trait dissi...
Article
Full-text available
Assessing the ecological impacts of environmental change on biological communities requires knowledge of the factors driving the spatial patterns of the three diversity facets along extensive environmental gradients. We quantified the taxonomic (TD), functional (FD), and phylogenetic diversity (PD) of lichen epiphytic communities in 23 beech forest...
Article
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Questions Theory suggest that while plant diversity of grasslands decreases in response to increased competition for light, many plant species persist belowground even in the temporary absence of shoots. Thus, we hypothesized that belowground diversity is less affected by increased competition during land‐use change compared to aboveground. Locati...
Article
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Questions Compensatory dynamics are described as one of the main mechanisms that increase community stability, e.g. where decreases of some species on a year‐to‐year basis are offset by an increase in others. Deviations from perfect synchrony between species (asynchrony) have therefore been advocated as an important mechanism underlying biodiversit...
Article
Full-text available
The stability of ecological communities is critical for the stable provisioning of ecosystem services, such as food and forage production, carbon sequestration, and soil fertility. Greater biodiversity is expected to enhance stability across years by decreasing synchrony among species, but the drivers of stability in nature remain poorly resolved....
Article
The stability of ecological communities is critical for the stable provisioning of ecosystem services, such as food and forage production, carbon sequestration, and soil fertility. Greater biodiversity is expected to enhance stability across years by decreasing synchrony among species, but the drivers of stability in nature remain poorly resolved....
Article
Full-text available
The use of permanent plots has a long tradition in ecology (Callahan, 1984; Wildi and Schültz 2000; Lindenmayer et al., 2012; Hughes et al., 2017) and vegetation science (Bakker et al., 1996). Recently, permanent‐plot studies were considered among the six most important developments in vegetation science (Chytrý et al., 2019). As this Special Featu...
Preprint
Full-text available
Phenotypic plasticity is essential for organisms to adapt to local ecological conditions. Little is known about how mutualistic interactions, such as arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis, mediate plant phenotypic plasticity and to what extent this plasticity may be heritable (i.e. transgenerational effects). We tested for plant plasticity within-...
Preprint
Full-text available
Although one quarter of the species of plants and vertebrates are threatened with extinction, little is known about how the potential effect of extinctions on the global diversity of ecological strategies. Using trait and phylogenetic information for more than 75,000 species of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fishes, we...
Article
Functional redundancy is considered a major component of the insurance mechanism, which theoretically maintains ecosystem stability by preventing the loss of ecosystem functions with species loss. Over the past decades, examination of functional trait patterns to elucidate processes of community stability and ecosystem functioning have stimulated c...
Article
Floral traits are frequently studied in population biology and evolutionary ecology but are rarely considered in functional trait‐based studies focusing on the assembly of communities. We address this gap in trait‐based community assembly by synthesizing the existing literature on processes driving floral and pollination‐related trait patterns at c...
Article
Traditional approaches in trait-based community ecology typically expect that trait filtering across broad environmental gradients is largely due to replacement of species, rather than intraspecific trait adjustments. Recently, the role of intraspecific trait variability has been largely highlighted as an important contributor mediating the ability...
Article
Background: Alternative organism designs (i.e., the existence of distinct combinations of traits leading to the same function or performance) are a widespread phenomenon in nature and are considered an important mechanism driving the evolution and maintenance of species trait diversity. However, alternative designs are rarely considered when inves...
Article
Trait-based research holds high potential to unveil ecological and evolutionary processes. Functional traits are fitness-related characteristics of individuals, which are measured at individual level and defined without using information external to the individual. Despite the usefulness of the functional approach to understand the performance of i...
Article
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Background: Inselbergs are ancient rock outcrops with high biological diversity and endemism. They are common elements along the extension of the Atlantic Forest domain (AFd) and present large taxonomic (TD), functional (FD) and phylogenetic (PD) diversity. Aims: We investigated how the three dimensions of diversity changed across ecological and bi...
Article
1. Both intra-and interspecific differences in traits may modulate interactions between plants. Two mechanisms are hypothesized to regulate these effects: competitive hierarchies and trait dissimilarities, but it is unclear how the prevalence of each might depend on environmental conditions and on intra and interspecific differences. 2. We sowed s...
Article
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Functional and phylogenetic diversity (FD and PD respectively) of the resident community are expected to exert a key role in community resistance to colonization by surrounding species, and their establishment success. However, few studies have explored this topic experimentally or evaluated the interactive effects of these diversity measures. We i...
Article
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Functional diversity (FD) has the potential to address many ecological questions, from impacts of global change on biodiversity to ecological restoration. There are several methods estimating the different components of FD. However, most of these methods can only be computed at limited spatial scales and cannot account for intraspecific trait varia...
Article
Plant modularity traits relevant to functions of on-spot persistence, space occupancy, resprouting after disturbance, as well as resource storage, sharing, and foraging have been underrepresented in functional ecology so far. This knowledge gap exists for multiple reasons. First, these functions and related traits have been considered less importan...
Article
Studies addressing multiple aspects of biodiversity simultaneously (i.e., multifaceted approaches) can quantify plant diversity-environment links comprehensively - this is because of the multidimensional nature of plant diversity. However, multifaceted studies are scant in forests. Here, we examined taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversity...
Article
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What determines the stability of communities under environmental fluctuations remains one of the most debated questions in ecology. Scholars generally agree that the similarity in year‐to‐year fluctuations between species is an important determinant of this stability. Concordant fluctuations in species abundances through time (synchrony) decrease s...
Article
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Questions Species pools are the product of complex ecological and evolutionary mechanisms, operating over a range of spatial scales. Here, we focus on species absent from local sites but with the potential to establish within communities — known as dark diversity. Methods for estimating dark diversity are still being developed and need to be compar...
Article
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1.Understanding the mechanisms that underlie species assembly is a central concern in community ecology. Abiotic and biotic filters are probabilistic ‘sieves’ that allow species with certain functional traits to become part of the community, or not. We manipulated natural plant assemblies in order to identify variations in the timings of biotic and...
Article
The temporal stability of communities is essential for the maintenance of ecosystem functioning across trophic levels. The stabilizing effect of biodiversity is, among other factors, modulated by the level of synchrony in population fluctuations among the species in the community. What drives community synchrony, however, remains largely unclear. C...
Presentation
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A new Master's study programme in Ecology (www.prf.jcu.cz/ecology) at the University of South Bohemia, will start in September 2019 with 2-years duration, the applications gate is open, deadline for applications is May 16, 2019. The programme extends a successful Quantitative Ecology Module (botanika.prf.jcu.cz/quantecol) lead by Professor Jan Lepš...
Article
1.Traditionally, trait‐based studies have explored single‐trait‐fitness relationships. However, this approximation in the study of fitness components is often too simplistic, given that fitness is determined by the interplay of multiple traits, which could even lead to multiple functional strategies with comparable fitness (i.e. alternative designs...
Article
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Shrub encroachment influences several ecosystem services in drylands worldwide. Yet, commonly used strategies to reduce encroachment show a low medium-term success, calling for a better understanding of its causes. Previous works identified multiple drivers responsible for this phenomenon, including anthropogenic and environmental causes. However,...
Technical Report
A new 2 year Masters study programme in Ecology, at the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice, Czech Republic will start in October 2019. The programme is an extension of the successful Quantitative Ecology Module (botanika.prf.jcu.cz/quantecol) lead by Professor Jan Lepš, since 2011. Students will be trained in modern ecology research. T...
Article
1.Plant invasions can drastically change the structure of native communities, but it is not fully understood whether alien species occupy phylogenetic and functional space within the range occupied by natives, or provide a novel set of evolutionary origins and traits to the invaded communities. 2.Here, we evaluated this open question with data on l...
Article
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Experimental demethylation of plant DNA enables testing for epigenetic effects in a simple and straightforward way without the use of expensive and laborious DNA sequencing. Plants are commonly demethylated during their germination with the application of agents such as 5-azacytidine (5-azaC). However, this approach can cause unwanted effects such...
Article
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Despite its negative impacts on the environment and biodiversity, tree plantations can contribute to biodiversity conservation in fragmented landscapes, as they harbor many native species. In this study, we investigated the impact of Eucalyptus plantations on the taxonomic and functional diversity of ant communities, comparing ant communities sampl...
Article
The loss of biodiversity is thought to have adverse effects on multiple ecosystem functions, including the decline of community stability. Decreased diversity reduces the strength of the portfolio effect, a mechanism stabilizing community temporal fluctuations. Community stability is also expected to decrease with greater variability in individual...
Article
Mountain plant diversity results from a myriad of factors, including evolutionary history, species pools, abiotic and biotic constraints. For instance, increasing stress (e.g., elevation) often selects communities with species originating from fewer, and more closely-related clades. We assessed phylogenetic diversity and turnover of plant communiti...
Article
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The effects of human disturbance on biodiversity can be mediated by environmental conditions, such as water availability, climate and nutrients. In general, disturbed, dry or nutrient-depleted soils areas tend to have lower taxonomic diversity. However, little is known about how these environmental conditions affect functional composition and intra...
Article
Functional traits and phylogeny offer different, and often complementary, information about ecological differences between species, an essential step to uncover biodiversity assembly mechanisms and their feedbacks to ecosystem functions. However, traits and phylogeny are often related due to underlying trait evolution. Consequently, when combined,...
Article
Full-text available
The availability of global microbial diversity data, collected using standardized metabarcoding techniques, makes microorganisms promising models for investigating the role of regional and local factors in driving biodiversity. Here we modelled the global diversity of symbiotic arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi using currently available data on AM...
Article
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Plant functional traits are now frequently used instead of species identity to identify how plant species co-exist in assemblages. One notion is that species inhabiting the same environment have more characteristics in common than species from different habitats, leading to different prevailing dominant traits along environmental gradients, and als...
Article
The environmental filtering hypothesis predicts that the abiotic environment selects species with similar trait values within communities. Testing this hypothesis along multiple - and interacting - gradients of climate and soil variables constitutes a great opportunity to better understand and predict the responses of plant communities to ongoing e...
Article
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Human-driven environmental changes can induce marked shifts in the functional structure of biological communities with possible repercussion on important ecosystem functions and services. At the same time it remains unclear to which extent these changes may differently affect various types of organisms. We investigated species richness and communit...
Article
Aridity acts as a strong environmental filter to plants, limiting major ecosystem processes. Climate change models predict an overall increase of aridity in drylands. This could lead to changes in plant communities, particularly in the dominance and range of plant functional traits, which largely determine ecosystem functioning. However, to study h...
Article
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During the past century, grasslands in Europe have undergone marked changes in land-use, leading to a decline in plant diversity both at local and regional scales, thus possibly also affecting the mechanisms of species sorting into local communities. We studied plant species assembly in grasslands with differing habitat history and hypothesised tha...
Article
Questions How do fine scale community assembly processes (e.g. environmental filtering, symmetric competition, hierarchical competition, facilitation) vary along a natural stress gradient on coastal sand dunes? How does local environmental heterogeneity affect these processes? Location Mediterranean coastal sand dunes on the coast of central Italy...
Article
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ContextLandscape fragmentation significantly affects species distributions by decreasing the number and connectivity of suitable patches. While researchers have hypothesized that species functional traits could help in predicting species distribution in a landscape, predictions should depend on the type of patches available and on the ability of sp...
Article
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Linking diversity to biological processes is central for developing informed and effective conservation decisions. Unfortunately, observable patterns provide only a proportion of the information necessary for fully understanding the mechanisms and processes acting upon a particular population or community. Here, we suggest conservation managers uti...
Article
This dataset presents comprehensive and easy-to-use information on 29 functional traits of clonal growth, bud banks and lifespan of members of the Central European flora. The source data were compiled from a number of published sources (see the reference file) and the authors' own observations or studies. In total, 2909 species are included (2745 h...