Ecology

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Amid climate and land use changes, it is important to identify and monitor hotspots of animal activity where disease transmission can occur. Using experimental and observational methods in an East African savannah, this study shows water sources increase the concentration of faecal-oral parasites in the environment and that this effect is amplified in drier areas and following periods of low rainfall.

    • Georgia Titcomb
    • , John Naisikie Mantas
    •  & Hillary Young
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Soil seed banks are reservoirs of plant biodiversity. Here the authors compile a global dataset of soil seed banks in natural plant communities and report a spatially explicit analysis of environmental controls of seed bank density and diversity.

    • Xuejun Yang
    • , Carol C. Baskin
    •  & Johannes H. C. Cornelissen
  • 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

    The ongoing disproportionate increases in temperature and precipitation in the Alaska may alter the latitudinal gradients in greenup and snowmelt timings as well as carbon dynamics. With a broad range of datasets and model results, the authors show that the carbon response to early greenup or delayed snowmelt varies greatly depending upon local climatic limits.

    • JiHyun Kim
    • , Yeonjoo Kim
    •  & Crystal L. Schaaf
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Herbivore cooperation between insect pests can result in substantially greater damage to crops but also constitutes a good target for improved pest control. Liu et al. reveal how the brown plant-hopper and the rice striped stem-borer obtain mutual benefits when feeding on the same rice plant.

    • Qingsong Liu
    • , Xiaoyun Hu
    •  & Yunhe Li
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The extent to which temperature controls soil carbon storage remains highly uncertain. Here, the authors show that, globally, soil carbon stocks decline strongly with temperature, but the effect is much greater in coarse-textured soils with limited organic matter stabilisation capacities, than in fine-textured soils.

    • Iain P. Hartley
    • , Tim C. Hill
    •  & Gustaf Hugelius
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Many microbes grow diauxically, utilizing resources one at a time rather than simultaneously. This study developed a minimal model of diauxic microbial communities assembling in a serially diluted culture, providing testable predictions for the assembly of natural as well as synthetic communities of diauxically shifting microorganisms.

    • Zihan Wang
    • , Akshit Goyal
    •  & Sergei Maslov
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Tree species that are expanding their distribution in response to climate change could be hindered or facilitated by disturbances. Here the authors analyse forest inventory data from the western US to test the hypothesis that wildfire can facilitate climate-induced range shifts in trees.

    • Avery P. Hill
    •  & Christopher B. Field
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted ecosystem and biodiversity monitoring programs, including marine fisheries surveys. Here the authors combine multiple modelling approaches and data to overcome lost observational effort off the coasts of California in a diversified integrated ecosystem approach.

    • Jarrod A. Santora
    • , Tanya L. Rogers
    •  & John C. Field
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Nearly one-third of the global coastline is vegetated. Incorporating these vegetation belts in coastal protection strategies would result in more sustainable and financially-attractive designs to mitigate the impacts of extreme coastal storms.

    • Vincent T. M. van Zelst
    • , Jasper T. Dijkstra
    •  & Mindert B. de Vries
  • 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

    Insect acquisition of insecticide resistance represents a serious problem for agriculture. Here, authors reveal an insect symbiotic bacteria that degrades insecticide fenitrothion into a non-insecticidal but bactericidal compound, which is subsequently excreted by the insect host.

    • Yuya Sato
    • , Seonghan Jang
    •  & Yoshitomo Kikuchi
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The microbiomes associated with reef corals are complex and diverse. Here, the authors investigate fire coral clones naturally occurring in distinct habitats as a model system to disentangle the contribution of host genotype and environment on their microbiome, and predict genomic functions based on taxonomic profiles.

    • C. E. Dubé
    • , M. Ziegler
    •  & C. R. Voolstra
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Phosphorothioate (PT) modification by the dnd gene cluster is the first identified DNA backbone modification and has been shown to constitute a multifunctional epigenetic system. Despite a variety of advantages for hosting dnd systems, these systems are surprisingly distributed sporadically among contemporary microbial genomes. To address this ecological paradox, Jian et al. systematically investigated the occurrence and phylogeny of dnd systems in prokaryotes, and provided evidence to suggest that dnd systems have originated in ancient Cyanobacteria (probably Nostocales) after the Great Oxygenation Event.

    • Huahua Jian
    • , Guanpeng Xu
    •  & Xiang Xiao
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Defoliating insects disrupt nutrient cycling of boreal catchments by redistributing carbon and nitrogen from forests to lakes. The resulting shift in lake biogeochemistry exceeds broader between-year trends observed across the boreal and north temperate region.

    • Samuel G. Woodman
    • , Sacha Khoury
    •  & Andrew J. Tanentzap
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Invasive species could have cascading effects on ecosystem functioning. Here the authors use experimental and remote sensing data and modelling to show that an invasive mammal causes loss of facilitative interactions between sessile ecosystem engineers in salt marshes, and lower ecosystem resilience to disturbance.

    • Marc J. S. Hensel
    • , Brian R. Silliman
    •  & Jarrett E. K. Byrnes
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There are many hypotheses for why the tropics are more biodiverse than higher latitudes. Phylogenomic analyses of 21 montane birds finds that tropical birds disperse less and have more genetically structured populations than their counterparts at higher latitudes, possibly due to a larger elevational climate gradient in the tropics

    • Gregory Thom
    • , Marcelo Gehara
    •  & Fábio Raposo do Amaral
  • 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

    Anthropogenic change, such as urban heat islands, present challenges to biodiversity that can be overcome through phenotypic plasticity. Unlike their ancestral counterparts, urban lizards have fewer maladaptive gene expression responses to higher temperatures in a common garden experiment, suggesting the evolution of adaptive plasticity.

    • Shane C. Campbell-Staton
    • , Jonathan P. Velotta
    •  & Kristin M. Winchell
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a clonal pathogen that has co-evolved with humans for millennia. Here, Freschi et al. reevaluate the population structure of M. tuberculosis, providing an in-depth analysis of the ancient Indo-Oceanic Lineage 1 and the modern Central Asian Lineage 3, and expanding our understanding of Lineages 2 and 4.

    • Luca Freschi
    • , Roger Vargas Jr.
    •  & Maha Reda Farhat
  • Article
    | Open Access

    We combine data from global forest resource assessments with a forest model to quantify the role of major drivers of net carbon fluxes from global forest biomass at national resolution between 1990 and 2020. We find that growth-condition changes, more than reforestation, counteracted forest biomass carbon emissions mostly driven by deforestation.

    • Julia Le Noë
    • , Karl-Heinz Erb
    •  & Simone Gingrich
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Spectral screening can be used to monitor plant health. Here via airborne hyperspectral imaging of tree species, the authors show that spectral pathways associated with vascular pathogens can be distinguished from those linked to abiotic stress providing the potential for early detection of threatening diseases.

    • P. J. Zarco-Tejada
    • , T. Poblete
    •  & J. A. Navas-Cortes
  • 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