Ecology

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Circadian rhythms in gut microbiota composition are crucial for metabolic function, yet the extent to which they govern microbial dynamics in comparison to seasonal and lifetime processes remains unknown. This study of gut bacterial dynamics in wild meerkats over a 20-year period finds that diurnal oscillations in bacterial load and composition eclipse seasonal and lifetime dynamics.

    • Alice Risely
    • , Kerstin Wilhelm
    •  & Simone Sommer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Land use is a key control of insect communities. Here the authors investigate relationships of insect biomass and richness with land use along a climate gradient, finding evidence of urbanisation and agriculture as drivers of decline, and of biomass and species richness not being suitable as mutual surrogates.

    • Johannes Uhler
    • , Sarah Redlich
    •  & Jörg Müller
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Whether rewetting leads to effective restoration of drained peatlands is unclear. Here the authors analyse a large number of near-natural and rewetted fen peatland sites in Europe, finding persistent differences in plant community composition and ecosystem functioning, and higher variance in the restored sites.

    • J. Kreyling
    • , F. Tanneberger
    •  & G. Jurasinski
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The skin disease chytridiomycosis is linked to global amphibian declines but effective mitigation measures require improved understanding of the mechanisms underpinning the disease ecology. This study identifies key mediators of interactions between the fungal pathogen and amphibian skin, providing a marker of host colonization that can predict susceptibility between amphibian species.

    • Yu Wang
    • , Elin Verbrugghe
    •  & An Martel
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Lassa Fever is a rodent-borne viral haemorrhagic fever that is a public health problem in West Africa. Here, the authors develop a spatiotemporal model of the socioecological drivers of disease using surveillance data from Nigeria, and find evidence of climate sensitivity.

    • David W. Redding
    • , Rory Gibb
    •  & Chikwe Ihekweazu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A phylogeny of Nymphalidae butterflies unveils the origin of the latitudinal diversity gradient. This study showed that the modern pattern of species richness emerged from dynamics of dispersal and diversification that varied through time and across regions, and that global climate change throughout the Cenozoic probably played a major role in generating the biodiversity pattern.

    • Nicolas Chazot
    • , Fabien L. Condamine
    •  & Niklas Wahlberg
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Legacies of past plant communities are likely to influence plant-soil interactions. Here, the authors report a reciprocal transplant experiment showing that soil microbial legacies shaped by previous plants persist for soil fungi and root endophytes but can be reversed by a next generation of plants for soil bacteria.

    • S. Emilia Hannula
    • , Robin Heinen
    •  & T. Martijn Bezemer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Harmful algal and bacterial blooms are increasingly frequent in lakes and rivers. From the Sydney Basin, Australia, this study uses fossil, sedimentary and geochemical data to reveal bloom events following forest ecosystem collapse during the end-Permian event and that blooms have consistently followed warming-related extinction events, inhibiting the recovery of freshwater ecosystems for millennia.

    • Chris Mays
    • , Stephen McLoughlin
    •  & Vivi Vajda
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Latitudinal ecosystem boundaries in the global upper ocean may be driven by many factors. Here the authors investigate pole-to-pole eukaryotic phytoplankton metatranscriptomes, gene co-expression networks, and beta diversity, finding that geographic patterns are best explained by temperature gradients.

    • Kara Martin
    • , Katrin Schmidt
    •  & Thomas Mock
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Modular, rather than integrated systems are classically thought to allow functional diversity to evolve rapidly. A study of cichlid fish shows integration between divergent jaw systems at the phylogenetic, population, and genetic scales, suggesting integration can and does facilitate rapid, coordinated trait evolution.

    • Andrew J. Conith
    •  & R. Craig Albertson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Evolutionary arms races can drive adaptations in hosts and parasites as well as among competing parasites. A combination of multi-omics and functional tests identifies a set of genes that allow a parasitic wasp to minimize intraspecific competition by inducing hosts to escape before more wasps can parasitize them.

    • Jiani Chen
    • , Gangqi Fang
    •  & Jianhua Huang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Studying the role of predator–prey interactions in food-web stability and species coexistence in the environment is arduous. Here, Cohen et al. use a combination of community and single-cell analyses to show that bacterial predators can regulate prey populations in the species-rich environments of wastewater treatment plants.

    • Yossi Cohen
    • , Zohar Pasternak
    •  & Edouard Jurkevitch
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There is much uncertainty on use and impact of pesticides in organic agriculture. Here, the authors compare pesticide use in conventionally and organically managed fields in Kern County (US), finding that organic fields are less likely to be treated but, when they are, they receive similar pesticide amount as the conventional fields.

    • Ashley E. Larsen
    • , L. Claire Powers
    •  & Sofie McComb
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The relative importance of evolutionary history and ecology for traits that drive ecosystem processes is poorly understood. Analyzing nine traits associated with fish stoichiometry from 1,572 individuals yields multiple lines of evidence that phylogeny is a critical determinant of nutrient cycling in coral reefs.

    • Jacob E. Allgeier
    • , Brian C. Weeks
    •  & Deron E. Burkepile
  • 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

    Activated sludge (AS) systems in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) contain high concentration of viruses. Here, the authors apply a systematic metagenomic pipeline and retrieve a catalogue of around 50,000 prokaryotic viruses from samples of six WWTPs, revealing a large and uncharacterized viral diversity in AS communities.

    • Yiqiang Chen
    • , Yulin Wang
    •  & Tong Zhang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Trends in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in aquatic food animals are seldom documented, particularly in Asia. Here, Schar et al. review 749 point prevalence surveys, describing AMR trends in Asian aquaculture and fisheries over two decades, and identifying resistance hotspots as well as regions that would benefit most from future surveillance efforts.

    • Daniel Schar
    • , Cheng Zhao
    •  & Thomas P. Van Boeckel
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Phytoplankton form the base of the marine ecosystem but current ocean models used for climate change projections are too simple to assess potential changes in plankton community structure. This study analyses a complex ecosystem model with 35 phytoplankton types to evaluate the changes in phytoplankton community composition, turnover and size structure over the 21st century.

    • Stephanie A. Henson
    • , B. B. Cael
    •  & Stephanie Dutkiewicz
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships may vary with climate. Here, the authors study relationships of plant and soil microbial diversity with soil nutrient multifunctionality in 130 dryland sites in China, finding a shift towards greater importance of soil microbial diversity in arid conditions.

    • Weigang Hu
    • , Jinzhi Ran
    •  & Jianming Deng
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Crop diversification could be important for food security. Here, using methods from network science, the authors find that a positive relationship between crop diversity and nutritional stability globally does not necessarily equate to improving nutritional stability in a given country.

    • Charlie C. Nicholson
    • , Benjamin F. Emery
    •  & Meredith T. Niles
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The biology of the archaeal phylum Woesearchaeota is poorly understood due to the lack of cultured isolates. Here, the authors analyze datasets of Woesearchaeota 16 S rRNA gene sequences and metagenome-assembled genomes to infer global distribution patterns, ecological preferences and metabolic capabilities.

    • Wen-Cong Huang
    • , Yang Liu
    •  & Meng Li
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Warming will affect marine plankton biomass, but also its diversity and community composition in poorly understood ways. Here, the authors model the spatial distribution of 860 marine plankton species from 10 functional groups and identify the future hotspots of climate change impacts under RCP8.5.

    • Fabio Benedetti
    • , Meike Vogt
    •  & Nicolas Gruber
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Responses of ecosystem services to species losses are highly context-dependent. Here, the authors develop a model to identify general rules in the robustness of ecosystem service supply to species losses, and demonstrate its applicability using real-world ecosystem service networks.

    • Samuel R. P.-J. Ross
    • , Jean-François Arnoldi
    •  & Ian Donohue
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Anthropogenic extinctions are driving functional shifts in biological communities, but these changes might differ considerably among taxa and biogeographic regions. Here the authors show that projected losses of functional diversity among land and freshwater vertebrates are unevenly distributed across the world.

    • Aurele Toussaint
    • , Sébastien Brosse
    •  & Carlos P. Carmona
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Nowhere is biomass burning more abundant than on the African continent, but the biogeochemical impacts on forests are poorly understood. Here the authors show that biomass burning leads to high phosphorus deposition in the Congo basin, which scales with forest age as a result of increasing canopy complexity.

    • Marijn Bauters
    • , Travis W. Drake
    •  & Pascal Boeckx
  • Perspective
    | Open Access

    The microbiome is becoming recognized as a key determinant of host phenotype. Here, Henry et al. present a framework for building our understanding of how the microbiome also influences host evolution, review empirical examples and research approaches, and highlight emerging questions.

    • Lucas P. Henry
    • , Marjolein Bruijning
    •  & Julien F. Ayroles
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Climate change is expected to have major impacts on forest tree diseases. Here the authors analyse long-term data of white pine blister rust in the southern Sierra Nevada, finding evidence of climate change-driven disease range expansion that was mediated by spatially varying host-pathogen-drought interactions.

    • Joan Dudney
    • , Claire E. Willing
    •  & John J. Battles
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is still unclear when and by which route modern humans expanded out of Africa. Here, Beyer et al. use paleoclimate reconstructions and estimates of human precipitation requirements to evaluate the survivability of spatial and temporal migration corridors to Eurasia over the last 300,000 years.

    • Robert M. Beyer
    • , Mario Krapp
    •  & Andrea Manica
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ambitious global targets exist for mangrove restoration. A meta-analysis reveals how mangrove restoration provides higher ecosystem benefits over unvegetated tidal flats, while generally lower than natural mangroves. Restoration outcomes, however, depend on restoration age, species and method.

    • Jie Su
    • , Daniel A. Friess
    •  & Alexandros Gasparatos
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The fraction of leaf nitrogen allocated to RuBisCO indicates differing nitrogen use strategies of plants and varies considerably. Here the authors show that this variation is largely driven by leaf thickness and phosphorus content with light intensity, atmospheric dryness and soil pH also having considerable influence.

    • Xiangzhong Luo
    • , Trevor F. Keenan
    •  & Yao Zhang
  • Review Article
    | Open Access

    Seed banks are generated when individuals enter a dormant state, a phenomenon that has evolved among diverse taxa, but that is also found in stem cells, brains, and tumors. Here, Lennon et al. synthesize the fundamentals of seed-bank theory and the emergence of complex patterns and dynamics in mathematics and the life sciences.

    • Jay T. Lennon
    • , Frank den Hollander
    •  & Jochen Blath
  • 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

    Long-distance bird migration timing is thought to be relatively inflexible despite climate change. Here, based on 13 years of mark-resight and geolocator-tracking data on bar-tailed godwits, the authors report a 6-day advance of departure time which is explained by an unexpected degree of individual plasticity.

    • Jesse R. Conklin
    • , Simeon Lisovski
    •  & Phil F. Battley
  • Article
    | Open Access

    N2 fixation was key to the expansion of life on Earth, but which organisms fixed N2 and if Mo-nitrogenase was functional in the low Mo early ocean is unknown. Here, the authors show that purple sulfur bacteria fix N2 using Mo-nitrogenase in a Proterozoic ocean analogue, despite low Mo conditions.

    • Miriam Philippi
    • , Katharina Kitzinger
    •  & Marcel M. M. Kuypers
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Schistosomiasis control strategies rely on mass drug administration (MDA) using praziquantel. Here, Berger et al. perform whole-genome sequencing of larvae from infected children across Ugandan regions with differing MDA histories. They find extensive gene flow with limited positive selection suggesting minimal change post MDA.

    • Duncan J. Berger
    • , Thomas Crellen
    •  & James A. Cotton
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Habitat fragmentation and eutrophication have strong impacts on biodiversity but there is limited understanding of their cumulative impacts. This study presents simulations of meta-food-webs and provides a mechanistic explanation of how landscape heterogeneity promotes biodiversity through rescue and drainage effects.

    • Remo Ryser
    • , Myriam R. Hirt
    •  & Ulrich Brose
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The linkage between temperature change and extinction rates in the fossil record is well-known qualitatively but little explored quantitatively. Here the authors investigate the relationship of marine animal extinctions with rate and magnitude of temperature change across the last 450 million years, and identify thresholds in climate change linked to mass extinctions.

    • Haijun Song
    • , David B. Kemp
    •  & Xu Dai
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Little is known about viral-host interactions in the continental subsurface. Here, the authors use a combination of metagenomics, fluorescence in situ hybridization, and electron microscopy to show infections of abundant C-fixing subsurface archaea by lytic viruses.

    • Janina Rahlff
    • , Victoria Turzynski
    •  & Alexander J. Probst
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Understanding how individual niches vary can inform ecology and conservation. A study of 45 GPS-tracked white storks across three breeding populations reveals that individual environmental niches are nested, arranged along a specialist-generalist gradient that is highly consistent over time.

    • Ben S. Carlson
    • , Shay Rotics
    •  & Walter Jetz
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Plant and soil C:N:P ratios are critical to ecosystem functioning, but it remains uncertain how plant diversity affects terrestrial C:N:P. In this meta-analysis of 169 studies, the authors find that plant mixtures can balance plant and soil C:N:P ratios according to background soil C:N:P.

    • Xinli Chen
    •  & Han Y. H. Chen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    How acute deoxygenation events affect tropical marine ecosystems remains poorly understood. This study integrates analyses of coral reef benthic communities with microbial community sequencing to show how a deoxygenation event rapidly altered a shallow tropical coral reef ecosystem in the Caribbean.

    • Maggie D. Johnson
    • , Jarrod J. Scott
    •  & Andrew H. Altieri
  • Article
    | Open Access

    This study combines ethnobotanical and epidemiological data to understand how social networks of seed exchange influence the genetic structure of the African cassava mosaic virus in Gabon. Results reveal contrasted patterns of viral diversity in patrilineal and matrilineal communities, consistent with cultural differences in modes of seed exchange.

    • Marc Delêtre
    • , Jean-Michel Lett
    •  & Charles Spillane
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The North Water polynya is a unique but vulnerable ecosystem, home to Indigenous people and Arctic keystone species. New palaeoecological records from Greenland suggest human abandonment c. 2200–1200 cal yrs BP occurred during climate-forced polynya instability, foreshadowing future ecosystem declines.

    • Sofia Ribeiro
    • , Audrey Limoges
    •  & Thomas A. Davidson