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Denitrification is a critical process regulating the removal of bioavailable nitrogen (N) from natural and human-altered systems. While it has been extensively studied in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems, there has been limited communication among denitrification scientists working in these individual systems. Here, we compare rates of denitrification and controlling factors across a range of ecosystem types. We suggest that terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems in which denitrification occurs can be organized along a continuum ranging from (1) those in which nitrification and denitrification are tightly coupled in space and time to (2) those in which nitrate production and denitrification are relatively...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Elk browsing and conifer species mixing with aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) present current challenges to aspen forest management in the western United States. We evaluated the effects of conifers and elk browsing on quaking aspen stands in and near Rocky Mountain National Park using tree rings to reconstruct patterns of aspen establishment, growth, and mortality over the past 120 years. High conifer encroachment and elk browse were both associated with decreased aspen recruitment, with mean recruitment dropping over 30% from pure aspen to mixed stands and over 50% from low-browse to high-browse stands. Maximum aspen recruitment was lower in mixed stands than in pure stands with the same tree basal area. High...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Disruption to migration is a growing problem for conservation and restoration of animal populations. Anthropogenic barriers along migration paths can delay or prolong migrations, which may result in a mismatch with migration-timing adaptations. To understand the interaction of dams (as barriers along a migration path), seasonally changing environmental conditions, timing of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) downstream migration, and ultimate migration success, we used 10 years of river temperature and discharge data as a template upon which we simulated downstream movement of salmon. Atlantic salmon is a cool-water species whose downstream migrating smolts must complete migration before river temperatures become too...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Simulation modeling was used to reconstruct Black-browed Albatross (Diomedea melanophris) population trends. Close approximations to observed data were accomplished by annually varying survival rates, reproductive success, and probabilities of returning to breed given success in previous years. The temporal shift in annual values coincided with the start of longline fishing at South Georgia and potential changes in krill abundance. We used 23 years of demographic data from long-term studies of a breeding colony of this species at Bird Island, South Georgia, to validate our model. When we used annual parameter estimates for survival, reproductive success, and probabilities of returning to breed given success in previous...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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The advent of molecular techniques has improved our understanding of the microbial communities responsible for denitrification and is beginning to address their role in controlling denitrification processes. There is a large diversity of bacteria, archaea, and fungi capable of denitrification, and their community composition is structured by long-term environmental drivers. The range of temperature and moisture conditions, substrate availability, competition, and disturbances have long-lasting legacies on denitrifier community structure. These communities may differ in physiology, environmental tolerances to pH and O2, growth rate, and enzyme kinetics. Although factors such as O2, pH, C availability, and NO3− pools...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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To facilitate decisions to classify species according to risk of extinction, we used Bayesian methods to analyze trend data for the Spectacled Eider, an arctic sea duck. Trend data from three independent surveys of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta were analyzed individually and in combination to yield posterior distributions for population growth rates. We used classification criteria developed by the recovery team for Spectacled Eiders that seek to equalize errors of under- or overprotecting the species. We conducted both a Bayesian decision analysis and a frequentist (classical statistical inference) decision analysis. Bayesian decision analyses are computationally easier, yield basically the same results, and yield...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Biological soil crusts arrest soil erosion and supply nitrogen to arid ecosystems. To understand their recovery from disturbance, we studied performances of Collema spp. lichens relative to four experimental treatments plus microtopography of soil pedicels, oriented north-northwest to south-southeast in crusts. At sites in Needles (NDLS) and Island in the Sky (ISKY) districts of Canyonlands National Park, lichens were transplanted to NNW, SSE, ENE, WSW, and TOP pedicel faces and exposed to a full-factorial, randomized block experiment with four treatments: nutrient addition (P and K), soil stabilization with polyacrylamide resin (PAM), added cyanobacterial fiber, and biweekly watering.After 14.5 mo (NDLS) and 24...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Management of terrestrial carbon fluxes is being proposed as a means of increasing the amount of carbon sequestered in the terrestrial biosphere. This approach is generally viewed only as an interim strategy for the coming decades while other longer-term strategies are developed and implemented — the most important being the direct reduction of carbon emissions. We are concerned that the potential for rapid, disturbance-induced losses may be much greater than is currently appreciated, especially by the decision-making community. Here we wish to: (1) highlight the complex and threshold-like nature of disturbances — such as fire and drought, as well as the erosion associated with each — that could lead to carbon losses;...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Populations of beaver and willow have not thrived in riparian environments that are heavily browsed by livestock or ungulates, such as elk. The interaction of beaver and elk herbivory may be an important mechanism underlying beaver and willow declines in this competitive environment. We conducted a field experiment that compared the standing crop of willow three years after simulated beaver cutting on paired plants with and without intense elk browsing (∼85% utilization rate). Simulated beaver cutting with intense elk browsing produced willow that was small (biomass and diameter) and short, with far fewer, but longer, shoots and a higher percentage of dead biomass. In contrast, simulated beaver cutting without elk...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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After a 40-year absence caused by pollution and eutrophication, burrowing mayflies (Hexagenia spp.) recolonized western Lake Erie in the mid 1990s as water quality improved. Mayflies are an important food resource for the economically valuable yellow perch fishery and are considered to be major indicator species of the ecological condition of the lake. Since their reappearance, however, mayfly populations have suffered occasional unexplained recruitment failures. In 2002, a failure of fall recruitment followed an unusually warm summer in which western Lake Erie became temporarily stratified, resulting in low dissolved oxygen levels near the lake floor. In the present study, we examined a possible link between Hexagenia...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Using an estimated background nitrogen (N) deposition value of 0.5 kg N·ha−1·yr−1 in 1900, and a 19-year record of measured values from Loch Vale (Colorado, USA; NADP site CO98), I reconstructed an N-deposition history using exponential equations that correlated well with EPA-reported NOx emissions from Colorado and from the sum of emissions of 11 western states. The mean wet N-deposition values for the period 1950–1964 was ~1.5 kg N·ha−1·yr−1, corresponding to the reported time of alteration of diatom assemblages attributed to N deposition in alpine lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park (USA). This value becomes the critical load defining the threshold for ecological change from eutrophication. Thus if an N-deposition...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Human society has used freshwater from rivers, lakes, groundwater, and wetlands for many different urban, agricultural, and industrial activities, but in doing so has overlooked its value in supporting ecosystems. Freshwater is vital to human life and societal well-being, and thus its utilization for consumption, irrigation, and transport has long taken precedence over other commodities and services provided by freshwater ecosystems. However, there is growing recognition that functionally intact and biologically complex aquatic ecosystems provide many economically valuable services and long-term benefits to society. The short-term benefits include ecosystem goods and services, such as food supply, flood control,...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Biological soil crusts arrest soil erosion and supply nitrogen to arid ecosystems. To understand their recovery from disturbance, we studied performances of Collema spp. lichens relative to four experimental treatments plus microtopography of soil pedicels, oriented north-northwest to south-southeast in crusts. At sites in Needles (NDLS) and Island in the Sky (ISKY) districts of Canyonlands National Park, lichens were transplanted to NNW, SSE, ENE, WSW, and TOP pedicel faces and exposed to a full-factorial, randomized block experiment with four treatments: nutrient addition (P and K), soil stabilization with polyacrylamide resin (PAM), added cyanobacterial fiber, and biweekly watering.After 14.5 mo (NDLS) and 24...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Information about the demography of declining species is especially relevant to their conservation and future recovery. Knowledge of survival rates and population size can be used to assess long-term viability and population trends, both of which are of interest to conservation biologists. We used capture–recapture techniques to study the demography of Mountain Plovers (Charadrius montanus Townsend) in southern Phillips County, Montana, USA, in 1995–2000. We used the robust design to estimate annual survival (φ), conditional capture (p and r) and recapture (c) probabilities, and the annual population size (N) in the presence of temporary emigration. The results support age-specific differences in annual survival...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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The introduction of nonnative plant species may decrease ecosystem stability by altering the availability of nitrogen (N) for plant growth. Invasive species can impact N availability by changing litter quantity and quality, rates of N2-fixation, or rates of N loss. We quantified the effects of invasion by the annual grass Bromus tectorum on N cycling in an arid grassland on the Colorado Plateau (USA). The invasion occurred in 1994 in two community types in an undisturbed grassland. This natural experiment allowed us to measure the immediate responses following invasion without the confounding effects of previous disturbance. Litter biomass and the C:N and lignin:N ratios were measured to determine the effects on...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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To produce reliable estimates of the size or vital rates of a given population, it is important that the boundaries of the population under study are clearly defined. This is particularly critical for large, migratory animals where levels of sustainable harvest are based on these estimates, and where small errors may have serious long-term consequences for the population. Once populations are delineated, rates of exchange between adjacent populations can be determined and accounted/corrected for when calculating abundance (e.g., based on mark-recapture data). Using satellite radio-collar locations for polar bears in the western Canadian Arctic, we illustrate one approach to delineating wildlife populations that...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Denitrification, the reduction of the nitrogen (N) oxides, nitrate (NO3−) and nitrite (NO2−), to the gases nitric oxide (NO), nitrous oxide (N2O), and dinitrogen (N2), is important to primary production, water quality, and the chemistry and physics of the atmosphere at ecosystem, landscape, regional, and global scales. Unfortunately, this process is very difficult to measure, and existing methods are problematic for different reasons in different places at different times. In this paper, we review the major approaches that have been taken to measure denitrification in terrestrial and aquatic environments and discuss the strengths, weaknesses, and future prospects for the different methods. Methodological approaches...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Including stakeholders in environmental model building and analysis is an increasingly popular approach to understanding ecological change. This is because stakeholders often hold valuable knowledge about socio-environmental dynamics and collaborative forms of modeling produce important boundary objects used to collectively reason about environmental problems. Although the number of participatory modeling (PM) case studies and the number of researchers adopting these approaches has grown in recent years, the lack of standardized reporting and limited reproducibility have prevented PM's establishment and advancement as a cohesive field of study. We suggest a four-dimensional framework (4P) that includes reporting...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Evaluation of the progress of management programs for invasive species is crucial for demonstrating impacts to stakeholders and strategic planning of resource allocation. Estimates of abundance before and after management activities can serve as a useful metric of population management programs. However, many methods of estimating population size are too labor intensive and costly to implement, posing restrictive levels of burden on operational programs. Removal models are a reliable method for estimating abundance before and after management using data from the removal activities exclusively, thus requiring no work in addition to management. We developed a Bayesian hierarchical model to estimate abundance from...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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We have now entered an era of large-scale attempts to restore ecological functions and biological communities in impaired ecosystems. Our knowledge base of complex ecosystems and interrelated functions is limited, so the outcomes of specific restoration actions are highly uncertain. One approach for exploring that uncertainty and anticipating the range of possible restoration outcomes is comparative study of existing habitats similar to future habitats slated for construction. Here we compare two examples of one habitat type targeted for restoration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. We compare one critical ecological function provided by these shallow tidal habitats - production and distribution of phytoplankton...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications