Community ecology

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Species identity and richness both contribute biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships. Here the authors apply a decomposition approach inspired by the Price equation to a global dataset of reef fish community biomass, finding that increased richness and community compositions favouring large-bodied species enhance biomass.

    • Jonathan S. Lefcheck
    • , Graham J. Edgar
    •  & Aneil F. Agrawal
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Phytoplankton communities are important players in biogeochemical processes, but are sensitive to global warming. Here, a meta-analysis shows how the varied responses of phytoplankton to rising temperatures could potentially alter growth dynamics and community structure in a future ocean.

    • S. I. Anderson
    • , A. D. Barton
    •  & T. A. Rynearson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Local patterns of species coexistence across scales could determine the shape of species-area relationships. Here the authors apply a structuralist approach to empirical data on annual plant communities to assess how species interactions shape coexistence- and species-area relationships.

    • David García-Callejas
    • , Ignasi Bartomeus
    •  & Oscar Godoy
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Root-mycorrhizal interactions could help explain the heterogeneity of plant responses to CO2 fertilisation and nutrient availability. Here the authors combine tree-ring and metagenomic data to reveal that tree growth responses to increasing CO2 along a soil nutrient gradient depend on the nitrogen foraging traits of ectomycorrhizal fungi.

    • Peter T. Pellitier
    • , Inés Ibáñez
    •  & Kirk Acharya
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Understanding the dynamics of species interactions can help predict community responses to climate change. A spatially explicit model finds that species interactions and competition mitigate the harmful impacts of climate change, and that temperature-dependent competition makes communities more variable and responsive to changing climates.

    • Anna Åkesson
    • , Alva Curtsdotter
    •  & György Barabás
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Land use intensification is a major driver of biodiversity change. Here the authors measure diversity across multiple trophic levels in agricultural grassland landscapes of varying management, finding decoupled responses of above- and belowground taxa to local factors and a strong impact of landscape-level land use.

    • Gaëtane Le Provost
    • , Jan Thiele
    •  & Peter Manning
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Beneficial plant-microbe interactions are common in nature, but direct evidence for the evolution of mutualism is scarce. Here, Li et al. experimentally evolve a rhizospheric bacterium and find that it can evolve into a mutualist on a relatively short timescale.

    • Erqin Li
    • , Ronnie de Jonge
    •  & Alexandre Jousset
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Change in ecological communities can be driven by extrinsic forces, but the degree to which intrinsic population dynamics drive turnover has remained unclear. Here the authors use metacommunity modelling to show that biodiversity change previously attributed to external drivers can be explained based on intrinsic ecosystem dynamics.

    • Jacob D. O’Sullivan
    • , J. Christopher D. Terry
    •  & Axel G. Rossberg
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Anthropogenic nutrient enrichment may drive shifts in soil microbial communities. Here, the authors analyse nitrogen and phosphorus addition effects on soil fungi in a distributed grassland experiment across four continents, finding promotion of pathogens, suppression of mutualists, and no shifts in saprotrophs.

    • Ylva Lekberg
    • , Carlos A. Arnillas
    •  & Jeremiah A. Henning
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is unclear whether plant-herbivore interactions systematically favour exotic plant species. Here the authors investigate plant-herbivore and plant-soil biota interactions in experimental mesocosm communities, finding that exotic plants dominate community biomass despite accumulating more invertebrate herbivores.

    • Warwick J. Allen
    • , Lauren P. Waller
    •  & Jason M. Tylianakis
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Advances in process-based community ecology models are hindered by the challenge of linking functional traits to demography in species-rich systems, where a high number of parameters need to be estimated from limited data. Here the authors propose a new Bayesian framework to calibrate community models via functional traits, and validate it in a species-rich plant community.

    • Loïc Chalmandrier
    • , Florian Hartig
    •  & Loïc Pellissier
  • Article
    | Open Access

    How microbial community properties change under increasingly complex combinations of resources remains unclear. Here, the authors studied hundreds of synthetic consortia to identify the factors that govern how growth and taxonomic diversity scale with environmental complexity.

    • Alan R. Pacheco
    • , Melisa L. Osborne
    •  & Daniel Segrè
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Whether invasive species must first establish in conditions within their native climatic niche before spreading remains largely untested. This study presents the Niche Margin Index for estimating climatic niche-matching of alien mammal species to a particular site, which could be used to help predict the success of invasions.

    • Olivier Broennimann
    • , Blaise Petitpierre
    •  & Antoine Guisan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There is growing recognition that artificial light at night has wide-ranging effects on plants and animals, including disruption of nocturnal pollination. Here, Giavi et al. show that artificial light at night can also alter the daytime interactions between plants and pollinators.

    • Simone Giavi
    • , Colin Fontaine
    •  & Eva Knop
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ecologists predict that loss of large vertebrates will alter tropical plant communities. Here, the authors report a field experiment on seed mortality and seedling establishment in Borneo, in which experimental defaunation of large seed consumers was functionally compensated by insects and fungi.

    • Peter Jeffrey Williams
    • , Robert C. Ong
    •  & Matthew Scott Luskin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Food web responses to species losses have the potential to cascade to ecosystem services. Here the authors apply ecological network robustness modelling to ecosystem services in salt marsh ecosystems, finding that species with supporting roles are critical to robustness of both food webs and ecosystem services.

    • Aislyn A. Keyes
    • , John P. McLaughlin
    •  & Laura E. Dee
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Mutualists benefit their partners by providing resources that would be difficult to obtain independently. Here, the authors show in a bacterial community and with mathematical modeling how a mutualist can promote coexistence between competitors by providing them with different limiting resources.

    • Sarah P. Hammarlund
    • , Tomáš Gedeon
    •  & William R. Harcombe
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Quantifying forest degradation and biodiversity losses is necessary to inform conservation and restoration policies. Here the authors analyze a large dataset for the Atlantic Forest in South America to quantify losses in forest biomass and tree species richness, functional traits, and conservation value.

    • Renato A. F. de Lima
    • , Alexandre A. Oliveira
    •  & Paulo I. Prado
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Despite growing interest in environmental metabolomics, we lack conceptual frameworks for considering how metabolites vary across space and time in ecological systems. Here, the authors apply (species) community assembly concepts to metabolomics data, offering a way forward in understanding the assembly of metabolite assemblages.

    • Robert E. Danczak
    • , Rosalie K. Chu
    •  & James C. Stegen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Climate change and local anthropogenic stressors threaten the persistence of coral reefs. Here the authors track coral bleaching over the course of a heatwave and find that some colonies recovered from bleaching while high temperatures persisted, but only at sites lacking in other strong anthropogenic stressors.

    • Danielle C. Claar
    • , Samuel Starko
    •  & Julia K. Baum
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It has been hypothesized that domestication can occur through the ‘commensal pathway’ in which the domesticate takes advantage of a niche created as a byproduct by the domesticator. Here, Brooker et al. provide evidence for a commensal domestication process between longfin damselfish and mysid shrimps.

    • Rohan M. Brooker
    • , Jordan M. Casey
    •  & William E. Feeney
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is unclear whether terrestrial herbivores are able to consume the extra plant biomass produced under nutrient enrichment. Here the authors test this in grasslands using a globally distributed network of coordinated field experiments, finding that wild herbivore control on grassland production declines under eutrophication.

    • E. T. Borer
    • , W. S. Harpole
    •  & E. W. Seabloom
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Not all plants are equally able to support native insects. Here, the authors use data on interactions among >12,000 Lepidoptera species and >2000 plant genera across the United States, showing that few plant genera host the majority of Lepidoptera species; this information is used to suggest priorities for plant restoration.

    • Desiree L. Narango
    • , Douglas W. Tallamy
    •  & Kimberley J. Shropshire
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Correlations between tree species diversity and tree abundance are well established, but the direction of the relationship is unresolved. Here the authors use path models to estimate plausible causal pathways in the diversity-abundance relationship across 23 global forests regions, finding a lack of general support for a positive diversity-abundance relationship, which is prevalent in the most productive lands on Earth only

    • Jaime Madrigal-González
    • , Joaquín Calatayud
    •  & Markus Stoffel
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The factors that determine whether pathogens co-occur in a host are poorly understood, especially for plant viruses. Here the authors conduct field experiments with the plant Plantago lanceolata and its viruses, showing that viral co-occurrences are driven predominantly by environmental context and host genotype rather than viral interactions.

    • Suvi Sallinen
    • , Anna Norberg
    •  & Anna-Liisa Laine
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Eutrophication has been shown to weaken diversity-stability relationships in grasslands, but it is unclear whether the effect depends on scale. Analysing a globally distributed network of grassland sites, the authors show a positive role of beta diversity and spatial asynchrony as drivers of stability but find that nitrogen enrichment weakens the diversity-stability relationships at different spatial scales.

    • Yann Hautier
    • , Pengfei Zhang
    •  & Shaopeng Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The ecological niche of a given microbe is difficult to define, but can be approximated from the range of biochemical reactions encoded by its genome. Here the authors use these genomic data and analyze them using manifold learning, which generates a diffusion map of the metabolic niche space of over 2500 bacteria.

    • Ashkaan K. Fahimipour
    •  & Thilo Gross
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Microbes interact in different ways than macro-organisms, but their interactions can still form the basis for broader macroecological patterns like the Species Abundance Distribution. Here, the author shows that thre general ecological patterns can be found in microbes, within and across biome types.

    • Jacopo Grilli
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Assessing the effectiveness of protected areas requires sufficient monitoring data inside and outside of protected areas; such data are lacking in many tropical regions. Here the authors use robust citizen science data on bird occupancy to show that protected areas are effective in maintaining bird species diversity across eight tropical biodiversity hotspots.

    • Victor Cazalis
    • , Karine Princé
    •  & Ana S. L. Rodrigues
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There is evidence that reducing plant litter diversity may slow litter decomposition rate. Here, Mori and colleagues perform a global meta-analysis of litter-bag studies to show that mixed-species litter assemblages decompose faster than monospecific assemblages, with a magnitude comparable to the predicted effect of climate warming.

    • Akira S. Mori
    • , J. Hans C. Cornelissen
    •  & Forest Isbell
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is unclear how biodiversity-ecosystem functioning and species coexistence mechanisms are linked. Here, Godoy and colleagues combine field-parameterised competition models with a BEF experiment to show that mechanisms leading to more stable species coexistence lead to greater productivity, but not necessarily to enhanced functions other than primary production.

    • Oscar Godoy
    • , Lorena Gómez-Aparicio
    •  & Eric Allan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Plant-pollinator interactions are not fixed but instead can change seasonally and across years. Here, the authors provide a holistic perspective on how plants and pollinators first enter, then comprise, and ultimately leave interaction networks over time.

    • Bernat Bramon Mora
    • , Eura Shin
    •  & Daniel B. Stouffer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Brandl, Johansen et al. compare organismal traits, community structure, and productivity dynamics of cryptobenthic reef fishes across two locations, the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, the former of which harbors the world’s hottest coral reefs. They show that environmental extremes in the Arabian Gulf result in dramatically less diverse, abundant, and productive cryptobenthic fish assemblages, which could foreshadow the future of coral reef biodiversity and functioning.

    • Simon J. Brandl
    • , Jacob L. Johansen
    •  & John A. Burt
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Sedimentary DNA can be used to infer how organisms responded to changing environmental conditions over millennia. Here, the authors use sedimentary DNA of micro-eukaryotes in low-elevation (human-impacted) and high-elevation (more pristine) lakes to show how human influences have altered lake community composition in the Anthropocene.

    • François Keck
    • , Laurent Millet
    •  & Isabelle Domaizon
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The dynamics of ecological communities depends on interactions between species as well as those between species and their environment, however the effects of the latter are poorly understood. Here, Yeakel et al. reveal how species that modify their environment (ecosystem engineers) impact community dynamics and the risk of extinction.

    • Justin D. Yeakel
    • , Mathias M. Pires
    •  & Thilo Gross
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Environmental change and species diversity could jointly affect the stability of animal communities. Here the authors use citizen science data on bats, birds, and butterflies along urbanization and agricultural intensification gradients in France to show that both environmental change and diversity loss destabilise communities, but in different ways.

    • Théophile Olivier
    • , Elisa Thébault
    •  & Colin Fontaine
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Associations with mycorrhizal fungi can affect the outcome of plant competition in complex ways. Here the authors use a decade-long field survey and two hyphal exclusion experiments to reveal a critical role of underground fungal networks in facilitating seedling growth and fitness of ectomycorrhizal plants but not arbuscular mycorrhizal plants.

    • Minxia Liang
    • , David Johnson
    •  & Xubing Liu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Density-dependence is rarely accounted for in plant-plant facilitation studies. Here the authors develop a framework that incorporates density-dependence in the stress-gradient hypothesis, and test it first through modeling and then empirically on Arabidopsis thaliana along salt stress gradients.

    • Ruichang Zhang
    •  & Katja Tielbörger
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Metagenome approaches can unravel relationships between environment, community composition, and ecological functions. Here, the authors show that bacterial communities sampled from rainwater pools can be clustered into few classes with distinct functional capacities and genetic repertoires, the assembly of which is likely driven by local conditions.

    • Alberto Pascual-García
    •  & Thomas Bell
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Prior studies have investigated macroecological patterns of host sharing among viruses, although certain mammal clades have not been represented in these analyses, and the findings have not been used to predict the true network. Here the authors model the species level traits that predict viral sharing across all mammal clades and validate their predictions using an independent dataset.

    • Gregory F. Albery
    • , Evan A. Eskew
    •  & Kevin J. Olival
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Sea-ice cover in Antarctica has increased over the last decades and reached a maximum in 2014. Here, the authors report strong declines in zoobenthic biomass and abundance and changes in community composition on the NE Weddell Sea shelf over 26 years, with implications for blue carbon and biochemistry in a globally important marine region.

    • Santiago E. A. Pineda-Metz
    • , Dieter Gerdes
    •  & Claudio Richter
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Aside from their pollination function, pollinators consume and are consumed by other members of ecological communities; these relationships could explain the controversial effects of pollinators on ecological networks. Here the authors show that when mutualists such as pollinators are introduced into food webs, they increase ecosystem biodiversity, stability, and function.

    • Kayla R. S. Hale
    • , Fernanda S. Valdovinos
    •  & Neo D. Martinez
  • Article
    | Open Access

    One hypothesis for the latitudinal diversity gradient is based on an assumption of stronger species interactions at lower latitudes. Here, Roesti et al. estimate pelagic fish predation from long-term fishing records and find evidence of stronger predation at higher latitudes and with lower fish species richness.

    • Marius Roesti
    • , Daniel N. Anstett
    •  & Roi Holzman

Browse broader subjects

Browse narrower subjects