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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....
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...
The diatom Didymosphenia geminata is a single-celled alga found in lakes, streams, and rivers. Nuisance blooms of D geminata affect the diversity, abundance, and productivity of other aquatic organisms. Because D geminata can be transported by humans on waders and other gear, accurate spatial prediction of habitat suitability is urgently needed for early detection and rapid response, as well as for evaluation of monitoring and control programs. We compared four modeling methods to predict D geminata's habitat distribution; two methods use presence?absence data (logistic regression and classification and regression tree [CART]), and two involve presence data (maximum entropy model [Maxent] and genetic algorithm for...
Observations from islands, small-scale experiments, and mathematical models have generally supported the paradigm that habitats of low plant diversity are more vulnerable to plant invasions than areas of high plant diversity. We summarize two independent data sets to show exactly the opposite pattern at multiple spatial scales. More significant, and alarming, is that hotspots of native plant diversity have been far more heavily invaded than areas of low plant diversity in most parts of the United States when considered at larger spatial scales. Our findings suggest that we cannot expect such hotspots to repel invasions, and that the threat of invasion is significant and predictably greatest in these areas. Published...
Water temperatures are increasing in many streams and rivers throughout the US. We analyzed historical records from 40 sites and found that 20 major streams and rivers have shown statistically significant, long-term warming. Annual mean water temperatures increased by 0.009?0.077�C yr?1, and rates of warming were most rapid in, but not confined to, urbanizing areas. Long-term increases in stream water temperatures were typically correlated with increases in air temperatures. If stream temperatures were to continue to increase at current rates, due to global warming and urbanization, this could have important effects on eutrophication, ecosystem processes such as biological productivity and stream metabolism, contaminant...
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Tamarisk species (genus Tamarix), also commonly known as saltcedar, are among the most successful plant invaders in the western United States. At the same time, tamarisk has been cited as having enormous economic costs. Accordingly, local, state, and federal agencies have undertaken considerable efforts to eradicate this invasive plant and restore riparian habitats to pre-invasion status. Traditional eradication methods, including herbicide treatments, are now considered undesirable, because they are costly and often have unintended negative impacts on native species. A new biological control agent, the saltcedar leaf beetle (Diorhabda elongata), has been released along many watersheds in the western US, to reduce...
An understanding of the extent of land degradation and recovery is necessary to guide land-use policy and management, yet currently available land-quality assessments are widely known to be inadequate. Here, we present the results of the first statistically based application of a new approach to national assessments that integrates scientific and local knowledge. Qualitative observations completed at over 10 000 plots in the United States showed that while soil degradation remains an issue, loss of biotic integrity is more widespread. Quantitative soil and vegetation data collected at the same locations support the assessments and serve as a baseline for monitoring the effectiveness of policy and management initiatives,...
Invasive species, disease vectors, and pathogens affect biodiversity, ecosystem function and services, and human health. Climate change, land use, and transport vectors interact in complex ways to determine the spread of native and non-native invasive species, pathogens, and their effects on ecosystem dynamics. Early detection and in-depth understanding of invasive species and infectious diseases will require an integrated network of research platforms and information exchange to identify hotspots of invasion or disease emergence. Partnerships with state and federal agencies that monitor the spread and impacts of invasive species and pathogens will be critical in developing a national data and research network that...
Desert soil surfaces are generally covered with biological soil crusts, composed of a group of organisms dominated by cyanobacteria, lichens, and mosses. Despite their unassuming appearance, these tiny organisms are surprisingly important to many processes in past and present desert ecosystems. Cyanobacteria similar to those seen today have been found as 1.2 billion-year-old terrestrial fossils, and they probably stabilized soils then as they do now. Biological crusts are vital in creating and maintaining fertility in otherwise infertile desert soils. They fix both carbon and nitrogen, much of which is leaked to the surrounding soils. They also capture nutrient-rich dust, and can stimulate plant growth. These organisms...
Cascading events that start at small spatial scales and propagate non-linearly through time to influence larger areas often have major impacts on ecosystem goods and services. Events such as wildfires and hurricanes are increasing in frequency and magnitude as systems become more connected through globalization processes. We need to improve our understanding of these events in order to predict their occurrence, minimize potential impacts, and allow for strategic recovery. Here, we synthesize information about cascading events in systems located throughout the Americas. We discuss a variety of examples of cascading events that share a common feature: they are often driven by linked ecological and human processes...
Biological diversity appears to enhance the resilience of desirable ecosystem states, which is required to secure the production of essential ecosystem services. The diversity of responses to environmental change among species contributing to the same ecosystem function, which we call response diversity, is critical to resilience. Response diversity is particularly important for ecosystem renewal and reorganization following change. Here we present examples of response diversity from both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and across temporal and spatial scales. Response diversity provides adaptive capacity in a world of complex systems, uncertainty, and human-dominated environments. We should pay special attention...


    map background search result map search result map Tamarisk biocontrol in the western United States: ecological and societal implications Tamarisk biocontrol in the western United States: ecological and societal implications