Ecology

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Vegetation dynamics depend on both the amount of precipitation and its variability over time. Here, the authors show that vegetation resilience is greater where water availability is higher and where precipitation is more stable from year to year.

    • Taylor Smith
    •  & Niklas Boers
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Here, using Citrobacter rodentium colonization of mice as a model, the authors characterize the impact of pathogen dose on the number of bacteria that initiate infection in the mouse gut, providing a framework for quantifying the host bottlenecks that eliminate pathogens to protect from infection.

    • Ian W. Campbell
    • , Karthik Hullahalli
    •  & Matthew K. Waldor
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Rearrangements in the genome are important for local adaptation and speciation but are often difficult to identify reliably. Here the authors show that rearrangements underlie large chromosome regions that separate differentially migratory willow warblers.

    • Max Lundberg
    • , Alexander Mackintosh
    •  & Staffan Bensch
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Here the authors find that climate teleconnections modulate ~53 % of the global burned area with both synchronous and lagged signals, and marked regional patterns, with the Tropical North Atlantic mode being the most relevant.

    • Adrián Cardil
    • , Marcos Rodrigues
    •  & Sergio de-Miguel
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Habitat loss and climate change are widely acknowledged as drivers of wildlife population change, but socioeconomic impacts are relatively unexplored. This study explores drivers of population change in large carnivores and reveals that socioeconomic growth is more associated with population declines than habitat loss and climate change.

    • Thomas F. Johnson
    • , Nick J. B. Isaac
    •  & Manuela González-Suárez
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Microbial ecological strategies are expected to be phylogenetically conserved, but plasticity and acclimation to environmental change may complicate the picture. Here, the authors show that shifts in soil bacterial ecological strategies deviate from phylogenetic-based predictions after acclimation to long-term warming and CO2 enrichment.

    • Yang Ruan
    • , Yakov Kuzyakov
    •  & Ning Ling
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Predicting which species will become invasive is vital because the harm they cause cannot always be mitigated once populations establish. Street et al. show that traded and introduced species have distinctive life histories with high invasion potential, helping to identify future invasion risks.

    • Sally E. Street
    • , Jorge S. Gutiérrez
    •  & Isabella Capellini
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Sharks and rays are vital coral reef species. This study shows that nearly two thirds (59%) of the 134 coral-reef associated species are threatened with extinction. The main cause of their decline is found to be overfishing, both targeted and unintentional, and extinction risk is greater for larger species found in nations with higher fishing pressure and weaker governance.

    • C. Samantha Sherman
    • , Colin A. Simpfendorfer
    •  & Nicholas K. Dulvy
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Desert-dwelling species are adapted to high temperatures, but further warming may push them beyond their physiological limits. Here, the authors integrate biophysical models and species distributions to project physiological impacts of climate change on desert birds globally and identify potential refugia.

    • Liang Ma
    • , Shannon R. Conradie
    •  & David S. Wilcove
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The genetic determinants of long-distance migration in birds are largely unknown. Sokolovskis et al. tracked genotyped hybrid willow warblers from a migratory divide in Sweden and find that autumn migration direction is consistent with a dominant inheritance pattern of two large effect loci that interact through epistasis.

    • Kristaps Sokolovskis
    • , Max Lundberg
    •  & Staffan Bensch
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Madagascar is a threatened biodiversity hotspot. Here, using a newly assembled dataset and island biogeography models, the authors estimate how many millions of years of evolutionary history have been lost since human colonisation and may be further lost in the future for Malagasy mammals.

    • Nathan M. Michielsen
    • , Steven M. Goodman
    •  & Luis Valente
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Coastal ecosystems are promoted as nature-based solutions to climate change. Here, the authors show that natural methane emissions across a variety of vegetated and unvegetated coastal habitats can, however, offset one-third of the carbon sink capacity attributed to atmospheric carbon dioxide uptake.

    • Florian Roth
    • , Elias Broman
    •  & Alf Norkko
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The archetypal supergreenhouse Cretaceous Earth had an active cryosphere with permafrost in plateau deserts. A modern analogue is the aeolian–permafrost system from the Qiongkuai Lebashi Lake area, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China.

    • Juan Pedro Rodríguez-López
    • , Chihua Wu
    •  & Chao Ma
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Over several years, this study examines how biotic interactions and warming affect the entire marine prokaryotic community at a location off the coast of Southern California. Analyses show that free-living and particle-associated prokaryotes were strongly predicted by phytoplankton and viral communities, and El Niño warming shifted cyanobacteria from cold-water ecotypes to warm-water ecotypes.

    • Yi-Chun Yeh
    •  & Jed A. Fuhrman
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ungulate herbivory is an important driver of ecological change in forests. Here, the authors combine vegetation resurveys showing herbivory effects are highly dependent on soil eutrophication, promoting non-natives under high N-conditions, yet benefiting threatened species under low N-conditions.

    • Josiane Segar
    • , Henrique M. Pereira
    •  & Ingmar R. Staude
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Multiple co-acting environmental pressures could affect ecosystems in ways not predictable based on single factors or pairwise combinations. Here, the authors show that the number of global change factors affects productivity, species composition and diversity of grassland plant communities.

    • Benedikt Speißer
    • , Rutger A. Wilschut
    •  & Mark van Kleunen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Land use change has been the dominant anthropogenic driver of plant distribution change, but climate change has also become a major factor. This analysis of long-term data shows that warming likely reinforced the impact of grassland abandonment on plant species distribution change in Sweden.

    • Alistair G. Auffret
    •  & Jens-Christian Svenning
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The authors present a wood formation model to explain multiple, hitherto poorly understood observations, related to carbon density, cell size, and temperature-growth relationships key for future carbon cycle simulations and past proxy interpretation.

    • Andrew D. Friend
    • , Annemarie H. Eckes-Shephard
    •  & Quinten Tupker
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Flowers are well known for attracting pollinators with visual and olfactory displays. Here, the authors show that in a nocturnal, desert pollination system, flower choice by pollinators is also mediated by floral humidity.

    • Ajinkya Dahake
    • , Piyush Jain
    •  & Robert A. Raguso
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The high persistence of deep soil carbon is controlled by bioenergetic constraints of decomposers resulting from the poor energy quality of soil carbon together with the lack of energy supply by roots due to their low density at depth

    • Ludovic Henneron
    • , Jerôme Balesdent
    •  & Sébastien Fontaine
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Drivers of long-term trends in insect populations are usually inferred from space-for-time substitution studies rather than from time-series data. Here, the authors investigate insect trends across a 40-year period in Switzerland and test their linkages with climate change, land use change and their interactions.

    • Felix Neff
    • , Fränzi Korner-Nievergelt
    •  & Eva Knop
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Bacteria respond to nutrients and other compounds via chemotaxis, but little is known of their responses to antibiotics. By tracking cells in antibiotic gradients, the authors show that surface-attached Pseudomonas aeruginosa move towards antibiotics in what appears to be a suicidal attack strategy.

    • Nuno M. Oliveira
    • , James H. R. Wheeler
    •  & Kevin R. Foster
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Many rodent species are known as hosts of zoonotic pathogens, but the ecological conditions that trigger spillover are not well-understood. Here, the authors show that population fluctuations and association with human-dominated habitats explain the zoonotic reservoir status of rodents globally.

    • Frauke Ecke
    • , Barbara A. Han
    •  & Richard S. Ostfeld
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The impact of three extinction events during the Permo–Triassic interval on terrestrial invertebrates is unclear. Here, the authors find that key abiotic and biotic factors, including changes in floral assemblages, were correlated with changes in insect diversity through this interval.

    • Corentin Jouault
    • , André Nel
    •  & Fabien L. Condamine
  • Article
    | Open Access

    External ecological interactions and intrinsic biological parameters affect evolutionary pathways and animal diversity. Here, the authors use ruminant inner ear morphology to investigate patterns of diversity through 33 million years, finding clade-dependent climate and paleogeographic trends.

    • Bastien Mennecart
    • , Laura Dziomber
    •  & Loïc Costeur
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Our understanding of microbial diversity and physiology in marine sediments is limited. Here, Gong et al. analyze thousands of metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) from coastal and deep-sea sediments, and identify MAGs belonging to new bacterial phyla that seem able to mediate key steps in sedimentary biogeochemistry.

    • Xianzhe Gong
    • , Álvaro Rodríguez del Río
    •  & Brett J. Baker
  • Article
    | Open Access

    In this disease mapping study, the authors estimate disability-adjusted life year rates for three of the major causes of mortality for children under five 43 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. They identify significant heterogeneity at the subnational level, highlighting the need for a targeted intervention approach.

    • Robert C. Reiner Jr.
    • , Catherine A. Welgan
    •  & Simon I. Hay
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Climate change and earlier snowmelt could potentially extend the growing season for alpine grassland plants. Here, the authors combine field and chamber controlled experiments to show that extending the summer period did not result in prolonged root and leaf growth.

    • Patrick Möhl
    • , Raphael S. von Büren
    •  & Erika Hiltbrunner
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Understanding the emergence, evolution, and transmission of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) is essential to combat antimicrobial resistance. Here, Munk et al. analyse ARGs in hundreds of sewage samples from 101 countries and describe regional patterns, diverse genetic environments of common ARGs, and ARG-specific transmission patterns.

    • Patrick Munk
    • , Christian Brinch
    •  & Frank M. Aarestrup
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Plant intraspecific diversity genetic diversity could affect also other trophic levels. This meta-analysis shows that increasing plant genetic diversity improves the performance of plants and natural enemies of herbivores, while decreasing the performance of plant antagonists.

    • Nian-Feng Wan
    • , Liwan Fu
    •  & Christoph Scherber
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Division of labour, where members of a group specialise on different tasks, is a central feature of many social organisms. Using a theoretical model, the authors demonstrate that division of labour can emerge spontaneously within a group of entirely identical individuals.

    • Jan J. Kreider
    • , Thijs Janzen
    •  & Franz J. Weissing
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Climate change may be inducing phenological mismatches between trees and understory plants. Here, phenological models based on long-term data from herbarium specimens indicate that spring ephemeral wildflowers are more vulnerable to such mismatches in North America than in Eurasia.

    • Benjamin R. Lee
    • , Tara K. Miller
    •  & Richard B. Primack
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Planktonic foraminifera are key to understanding paleoclimate and plankton evolution, but their origins are unclear. Here, the authors use a molecular clock to suggest that benthic foraminifera dispersed in plankton and renew planktonic foraminifera diversity after the Cretaceous Paleogene mass extinction.

    • Raphaël Morard
    • , Christiane Hassenrück
    •  & Michal Kucera
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Temporal niche partitioning is an important feature of animal communities. Here, Vallejo-Vargas and colleagues analyze standardized camera trap survey data from protected areas across the tropics to investigate diel patterns of forest mammals in relation to body mass and trophic guild.

    • Andrea F. Vallejo-Vargas
    • , Douglas Sheil
    •  & Richard Bischof
  • Article
    | Open Access

    In this study, the microbiota of multiple body sites from 101 marine fish species from Southern California were sampled and analysed. The authors compared diversity measures while also establishing a method to estimate microbial biomass. Body site is shown to be the strongest driver of microbial diversity and patterns of phylosymbiosis are observed across the gill, skin and hindgut.

    • Jeremiah J. Minich
    • , Andreas Härer
    •  & Eric E. Allen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    How highly inbred populations generate novel genetic variations upon which natural selection can act is unclear. Here, the authors reveal the effect of transposable elements on the genome-wide heterozygosity landscape across a natural inbreeding gradient of Arabidopsis lyrata and reducing the probability of inbreeding depression.

    • Hanne De Kort
    • , Sylvain Legrand
    •  & James Buckley
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Here, the authors use reproductive mode data with matching phylogenetic data to explore the evolution of reproductive mode, transitions between reproductive modes, and diversification rates in amphibians.

    • H. Christoph Liedtke
    • , John J. Wiens
    •  & Ivan Gomez-Mestre