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Mountain streams provide important habitats for many species, but their faunas are especially vulnerable to climate change because of ectothermic physiologies and movements that are constrained to linear networks that are easily fragmented. Effectively conserving biodiversity in these systems requires accurate downscaling of climatic trends to local habitat conditions, but downscaling is difficult in complex terrains given diverse microclimates and mediation of stream heat budgets by local conditions. We compiled a stream temperature database (n = 780) for a 2500-km river network in central Idaho to assess possible trends in summer temperatures and thermal habitat for two native salmonid species from 1993 to 2006....
Total nitrogen incorporated in the shrubs of a low-fertility desert plant community (principally Acacia Gregii, Cassia armata, and Larrea divaricata) was estimated from the nitrogen content of plant parts, the total weight of plants and proportional weight of roots, stems, and leaves, and the number of plants per unit area. The average nitrogen content of shrub leaves, stems, and roots was 1.31%, .87%, and .80%, respectively. Shrub cover occupied 20% of the ground surface and contained an average of 29 kg nitrogen/ha. Legume shrubs were not significantly greater in nitrogen content than nonlegume shrubs. Soil nitrogen content decreased significantly as a function of radial distance from the center of the shrub canopy....
In the northern Colorado Front Range, fire suppression during the 20th century is believed to have created a high hazard of catastrophic fire in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests. Since the early 1990s, resource managers have increased the use of prescribed fires to re-create fire regimes and forest structures similar to those of the pre-Euro-American settlement period in order both to reduce fire hazard and to improve forest health. To improve understanding of historical fire regimes, we conducted a study of fire history along an elevational gradient from \sim1830 to 2800 m in ponderosa pine forests in the northern Front Range. Fire-scar dates were determined from 525 partial cross sections from living and...
Wind erosion and associated dust emissions play a fundamental role in many ecological processes and provide important biogeochemical connectivity at scales ranging from individual plants up to the entire globe. Yet, most ecological studies do not explicitly consider dust-driven processes, perhaps because most relevant research on aeolian (wind-driven) processes has been presented in a geosciences rather than an ecological context. To bridge this disciplinary gap, we provide a general overview of the ecological importance of dust, examine complex interactions between wind erosion and ecosystem dynamics from the scale of plants and surrounding space to regional and global scales, and highlight specific examples of...
Global climate change is projected to produce warmer, longer, and more frequent droughts, referred to here as “global change-type droughts�, which have the potential to trigger widespread tree die-off. However, drought-induced tree mortality cannot be predicted with confidence, because long-term field observations of plant water stress prior to, and culminating in, mortality are rare, precluding the development and testing of mechanisms. Here, we document plant water stress in two widely distributed, co-occurring species, piñon pine (Pinus edulis) and juniper (Juniperus monosperma), over more than a decade, leading up to regional-scale die-off of piñon pine trees in response to global change-related drought....
The ecology of nectarivorous microbial communities remains virtually unknown, which precludes elucidating whether these organisms play some role in plant?pollinator mutualisms beyond minor commensalism. We simultaneously assessed microbial abundance and nectar composition at the individual nectary level in flowers of three southern Spanish bumble bee-pollinated plants (Helleborus foetidus, Aquilegia vulgaris, and Aquilegia pyrenaica cazorlensis). Yeasts were frequent and abundant in nectar of all species, and variation in yeast density was correlated with drastic changes in nectar sugar concentration and composition. Yeast communities built up in nectar from early to late floral stages, at which time all nectaries...
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Historical disturbance regimes are often considered a critical element in maintaining native plant communities. However, the response of plant communities to disturbance may be fundamentally altered as a consequence of invasive plants, climate change, or prior disturbances. The appropriateness of historical disturbance patterns under modern conditions and the interactions among disturbances are issues that ecologists must address to protect and restore native plant communities. We evaluated the response of Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis (Beetle & A. Young) S.L. Welsh plant communities to their historical disturbance regime compared to other disturbance regimes. The historical disturbance regime of these...
Fire is known to structure tree populations, but the role of broad-scale climate variability is less clear. For example, the influence of climatic ?teleconnections? (the relationship between oceanic?atmospheric fluctuations and anomalous weather patterns across broad scales) on forest age structure is relatively unexplored. We sampled semiarid pi�on?juniper (Pinus edulis?Juniperus osteosperma) woodlands in western Colorado, USA, to test the hypothesis that woodland age structures are shaped by climate, including links to oceanic?atmospheric fluctuations, and by past fires and livestock grazing. Low-severity surface fire was lacking, as fire scars were absent, and did not influence woodland densities, but stand-replacing...
We evaluated the relationship between annual forage production and annual and seasonal precipitation and temperature at a shortgrass steppe site in north-central Colorado using a long-term data set (52 yr). We also constructed a relationship between forage production and aboveground net primary production (ANPP). Precipitation fluctuated randomly, but temperature had clear warming and cooling trends including a 17-yr warming trend from 1974 to 1990. Forage production was significantly related to both annual and seasonal precipitation but not temperature. Precipitation events between 15 and 30 mm accounted for most of the variability in production because they accounted for most of the variability in precipitation...
Flow regulation has reduced the exchange of water, energy, and materials between rivers and floodplains, caused declines in native plant populations, and advanced the spread of nonnative plants. Naturalized flow regimes are regarded as a means to restore degraded riparian areas. We examined the effects of flood regime (short [SIFI] vs. long [LIFI] inter-flood interval) on plant community and soil inorganic nitrogen (N) dynamics in riparian forests dominated by native Populus deltoides var. wislizenii Eckenwalder (Rio Grande cottonwood) and nonnative Tamarix chinensis Lour. (salt cedar) along the regulated middle Rio Grande of New Mexico. The frequency of inundation (every 2–3 years) at SIFI sites better reflected...
Increases in the abundance or density of woody plants in historically semiarid and arid grassland ecosystems have important ecological, hydrological, and socioeconomic implications. Using a simplified water-balance model, we propose a framework for conceptualizing how woody plant encroachment is likely to affect components of the water cycle within these ecosystems. We focus in particular on streamflow and the partitioning of evapotranspiration into evaporation and transpiration. On the basis of this framework, we suggest that streamflow and evaporation processes are affected by woody plant encroachment in different ways, depending on the degree and seasonality of aridity and the availability of subsurface water....
Fire is known to structure tree populations, but the role of broad-scale climate variability is less clear. For example, the influence of climatic ?teleconnections? (the relationship between oceanic?atmospheric fluctuations and anomalous weather patterns across broad scales) on forest age structure is relatively unexplored. We sampled semiarid pi�on?juniper (Pinus edulis?Juniperus osteosperma) woodlands in western Colorado, USA, to test the hypothesis that woodland age structures are shaped by climate, including links to oceanic?atmospheric fluctuations, and by past fires and livestock grazing. Low-severity surface fire was lacking, as fire scars were absent, and did not influence woodland densities, but stand-replacing...
Gunnison's prairie dogs (Cynomys gunnisoni) are social North American ground squirrels whose social system has been shown to vary with food resource distributions, as predicted by the habitat variability-mating system model. We expanded this model to include the effects of variations in population densities, in addition to resource distributions, on both the social system and the individual mating strategies of Gunnison's prairie dogs. Specifically, we predicted that monogamy would be associated with uniform resources, regardless of population density, giving way to polygyny with increasing resource patchiness at intermediate densities, and to multiple males and females at high population densities. In addition,...
We evaluated the effects of plant functional group richness on seasonal patterns of soil nitrogen and phosphorus cycling, using serpentine grassland in south San Jose, California. We established experimental plots with four functional types of plants: early-season annual forbs (E), late-season annual forbs (L), nitrogen-fixers (N), and perennial bunchgrasses (P). These groups differ in several traits relevant to nutrient cycling, including phenology, rooting depth, root:shoot ratio, size, and leaf C:N content. Two or three species of each group were planted in single functional group (SFG) treatments, and in two-, three-, and four-way combinations of functional groups. We analyzed available nutrient pool sizes,...
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Seedlings of the succulent crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM plant Agave deserti in the northwestern Sonoran Desert were found only in sheltered microhabitats, nearly all occurring under the canopy of a desert bunchgrass, Hilaria rigida. Apparently because soil surface temperatures can reach 71@?C in exposed areas, seedlings were generally located near the center or on the northern side of this nurse plant. Both species have shallow root systems, about half of the roots of H. rigida and all those for seedlings of A. deserti occurring above soil depths of 0.08 m. To examine competition for water between the nurse plant and an associated seedling, a three-dimensional model for root water uptake was developed. The...
A large proportion of rainfall in dryland ecosystems is intercepted by plant foliage and is generally assumed to evaporate to the atmosphere or drip onto the soil surface without being absorbed. We demonstrate foliar absorption of intercepted rainfall in a widely distributed, continental dryland, woody-plant genus: Juniperus. We observed substantial improvement in plant water status, exceeding 1.0 MPa water potential for drought-stressed plants, following precipitation on an experimental plot that excluded soil water infiltration. Experiments that wetted shoots with unlabeled and with isotopically labeled water confirmed that water potential responded substantially to foliar wetting, that these responses were not...
It has long been recognized that areas protected from livestock serve as useful adjuncts in evaluating effects of grazing and in following the steps in recovery from overgrazing. Expense of fencing and loss of production usually militate against the use of large exclosures for these purposes. Small areas of an acre or two are valuable for comparison with their immediate surroundings; they do not, however, afford a variety of condi- tions, such as soil, slope, and aspect, and they are often severely overgrazed by rodents. Thus when the opportunity of studying a large protected area is pre- sented, the study is well worth the time devoted to it. The information presented in this paper was gathered in a 320-acre tract...
The effect of herbivory on grassland whole-plant production is poorly understood. Herbivores can increase grassland aboveground productivity, and laboratory experiments suggest that herbivory should reduce grass root growth. However, few field studies have directly measured the response of grassland root production to herbivores. We examined the effect of native migratory ungulates on grassland primary production by comparing aboveground (NAP) and belowground (NBP) production in grazed vs. ungrazed (fenced) grassland at nine variable sites in Yellowstone National Park. NBP was determined with minirhizotrons to account for root turnover. Grazers stimulated aboveground, below-ground, and whole-grassland productivity...
By influencing nutrient mineralization in the soil, decomposers may affect the performance of plants and their associated herbivores. The strength of above–belowground linkages may therefore depend on the availability of nutrients in ecosystems. We investigated the dependency of decomposer- and leaf-herbivore-mediated changes in plant performance on soil nutrient availability in microcosm systems. In separate treatments, Poa annua was used as host plant for the herbivore and was grown in combination with different herb species: Plantago lanceolata, Trifolium repens, and Sanguisorba minor. At three different levels of nutrient availability, the impact of Collembola (Folsomia candida) and aphids (Rhopalosiphum padi),...
Belowground interactions can affect plants either directly or indirectly via their associated mycorrhizal fungi. However, few studies have experimentally examined the consequences of interspecific root interactions for these important mutualists in the field. We used a trenching experiment to examine how belowground interactions between pinyon pine and one-seed juniper affected the ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungal communities of pinyon pine. Three major findings emerged: (1) pinyons responded to the reduction of juniper roots with a near doubling of fine root biomass in just two years, (2) this increase in pinyon roots translated into a potential two-fold increase in EM abundance, and (3) the EM fungal communities of...


map background search result map search result map Interaction of historical and nonhistorical disturbances maintains native plant communities Interactions Between Seedlings of Agave Deserti and the Nurse Plant Hilaria Rigida Interactions Between Seedlings of Agave Deserti and the Nurse Plant Hilaria Rigida Interaction of historical and nonhistorical disturbances maintains native plant communities