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Cyanobacterial-lichen soil crusts can be a dominant source of nitrogen for cold-desert ecosystems. Effects of surface disturbance from footprints, bike and vehicle tracks on the nitrogenase activity in these crusts was investigated. Surface disturbances reduced nitrogenase activity by 30?100%. Crusts dominated by the cyanobacterium Microcoleus vaginatus on sandy soils were the most susceptible to disruption; crusts on gypsiferous soils were the least susceptible. Crusts where the soil lichen Collema tenax was present showed less immediate effects; however, nitrogenase activity still declined over time. Levels of nitrogenase activity reduction were affected by the degree of soil disruption and whether sites were...
Few studies have experimentally tested the resource dispersion hypothesis (RDH). In this study, I tested whether space use and social organization of Gunnison’s prairie dog responded to changes in the dispersion and abundance of resources. Food manipulations were carried out during the reproductive and nonreproductive seasons across 2 years. Gunnison’s prairie dog adults responded to the experiments by decreasing territory size as food became patchier in space and time. Both males and females modified their home ranges, with no detectable difference between sexes, either prior to or during the experiments. As food became patchier in space and time, the spatial overlap of adults increased, whereas it decreased...
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The Yampa volcanic field (late Miocene) consists of about 70 outcrops of monogenetic cinder cones, lavas, dykes, volcanic necks and hydrovolcanic pyroclastic deposits and is situated in the most northerly part of the Rio Grande rift. Contemporaneous extension in this part of the rift was small, but there is geological and geophysical evidence that, by the late Miocene, the area was underlain by hot asthenosphere convected by the Yellowstone mantle plume. The Yampa rocks are mafic and chemically diverse, including basanites, alkali basalts, potassic trachybasalts, hawaiites and shoshonites. About half the rocks bear the xenocryst suite feldspar, pyroxene, Fe-Ti oxide, amphibole, biotite. There is a tendency for xenocryst-free...
Climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions is predicted to raise the mean global temperature by 1.0-3.5�C in the next 50-100 years. The direct and indirect effects of this potential increase in temperature on terrestrial ecosystems and ecosystem processes are likely to be complex and highly varied in time and space. The Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems core project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme has recently launched a Network of Ecosystem Warming Studies, the goals of which are to integrate and foster research on ecosystem-level effects of rising temperature. In this paper, we use meta-analysis to synthesize data on the response of soil respiration, net N mineralization, and aboveground...
Although drying of soil has increased fertility in laboratory-based experiments, a direct link between longer-scale weather conditions associated with drought and soil fertility has not been documented at the field scale. Soil from a semiarid grassland on the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) that was collected over a 10-year period had the highest levels of potentially mineralizable nitrogen (PMN, a measure of potential soil fertility) during drought periods in 1989 and 1995. Whereas previous soil collections on the Sevilleta NWR were made for different reasons, soils were collected in June 2002 near the peak of a regional-scale drought to test the hypothesis that potential soil fertility increased with...
Changes in competitive interactions under conditions of enhanced resource availability could explain the invasion success of some problematic plant species. For one invader of North American grasslands, Centaurea diffusa (diffuse knapweed), we test three hypotheses: (1) under ambient (high resource) conditions, C. diffusa is better able to tolerate competition from the resident community (competitive response), (2) under ambient conditions, C. diffusa strong impacts the competitive environment (competitive effect), and (3) reductions in nitrogen and/or phosphorus availability diminish these advantages. In support of our first hypothesis, C. diffusa was the most tolerant to neighbor competition of the four focal...
In the northern stretches of the Chihuahuan Desert, the margins of ephemeral stream channels called arroyos support a unique vegetation dominated by a guild of winter-deciduous shrubs. To explore the dynamics of nutrient conservation in this assemblage of arroyo shrubs, we measured nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) resorption efficiency and proficiency in six species of shrubs growing in arroyos in southern New Mexico, USA. Collectively, these six species were no more efficient or proficient at resorbing N and P from senescing leaves than shrubs growing in other environments. Resorption efficiency averaged 53% and 50% for N and P, respectively, and resorption proficiency averaged 0.80% and 0.06% for N and P, respectively....
It is widely believed that wild and domestic herbivores have modified the structure and composition of arid and semi-arid plant communities of western North America, but these beliefs have rarely been tested in long-term, well-replicated studies. We examined the effects of removing large herbivores from semi-arid shrublands for 40-50 years using 17 fenced exclosures in western Colorado, USA. Shrub cover was greater (F=5.87, P=0.0020) and cover (F=3.01, P=0.0601) and frequency (F=3.89, P=0.0211) of forbs was less inside the exclosures (protected) relative to grazed plots. However, we found no significant effects (minimum P=0.18) of protection from grazing on cover or frequency of grasses, biotic crusts, or bare soil....
Using 18 years of census data from permanent quadrats, we examined the interactions between spatially coexisting but temporally segregated winter and summer ephemeral plant communities in the Chihuahuan Desert. The ability of winter and summer annuals to achieve nearly complete temporal segregation by partitioning the bimodal annual rainfall permits the coexistence of a diverse flora of annual (and perennial) plants in this unproductive arid environment. Despite the differences in their biogeographical affinities and temporal segregation, long-term data indicated that at the scales of both the entire 20-ha study site and small 0.25-m2 sample quadrats, abundances of plants were never high in two successive growing...
Effects of herbicides (Garlone 3A, MCPA, 2,4-D and Krenite) and nitrogen fertilizer (NH4NO3), commonly used in Swedish forestry, on nitrogen fixation (C2H2-reduction) by Peltigera praetextata (Sommerf.) Zopf. (field and laboratory) and its phycobiont Nostoc sp. (laboratory) were studied. The alga was affected by the herbicides 2,4-D and Krenite and the fertilizer, with a decrease in nitrogenase activity. Nitrogen fixation by the lichen was not affected by herbicides but treatment with NH4NO3 led to depression of nitrogenase activity and serious disturbance of the symbiosis, the latter effect due to the fertilizer's lethal effects on the mycobiont (electron microscopy). Published in Oecologia, volume 40, issue 1,...
Some animals have the cognitive capacity to differentiate between different species of predators and generate different alarm calls in response. However, the presence of any addition information that might be encoded into alarm calls has been largely unexplored. In the present study, three similar-sized human females walked through a Gunnison's prairie dog (Cynomys gunnisoni) colony wearing each of three different-colored shirts: blue, green, and yellow. We recorded the alarm calls and used discriminant function analysis to assess whether the calls for the different-colored shirts were significantly different. The results showed that the alarm calls for the blue and the yellow shirts were significantly different,...
In water-limited environments of the intermountain region of North America, summer precipitation may play a role in the structure and function of aridland communities and ecosystems. This study examined the potential reliance on summer precipitation of two widespread, coexisting woody species in the southwestern United States, Pinus edulis Englmn. (Colorado pi�on) and Juniperus osteosperma (Torr) Little (Utah juniper). The current distributions of P. edulis and J. osteosperma are highly suggestive of different dependencies on summer rainfall. We hypothesized that P. edulis was dependent on summer precipitation, utilizing summer precipitation even during extremely dry summers, whereas J. osteosperma was not dependent,...
Mining activities in the Blue River Basin, Summit County, Colorado, have affected the trace- element chemistry and biota along French Gulch and the Blue River. Elevated concentrations of As, Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn were present in the bed and suspended sediments. Bed sediment trace-element concentrations were high in the streams in and near mining activities in the basin and remained high as water flowed into Dillon Reservoir about 3.5 km downstream. Bed-sediment ( < 63 mm) data were useful in assessing the distribution of trace elements in the basin. Suspended-sediment measurements provided information as to the transport of the trace elements. Filtered ( < 0.45 mm) water- column trace-element concentrations were orders...
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Sauropod dinosaur bones are common in Mesozoic terrestrial sediments, but sauropod skulls are exceedingly rare--cranial materials are known for less than one third of sauropod genera and even fewer are known from complete skulls. Here we describe the first complete sauropod skull from the Cretaceous of the Americas, Abydosaurus mcintoshi, n. gen., n. sp., known from 104.46 +/- 0.95 Ma (megannum) sediments from Dinosaur National Monument, USA. Abydosaurus shares close ancestry with Brachiosaurus, which appeared in the fossil record ca. 45 million years earlier and had substantially broader teeth. A survey of tooth shape in sauropodomorphs demonstrates that sauropods evolved broad crowns during the Early Jurassic...
We investigated the relationships between foliar stable carbon isotope discrimination (Delta), % foliar N, and predawn water potentials (psi(pd)) and midday stomatal conductance ( g(s)) of Larrea tridentata across five Mojave Desert soils with different age-specific surface and sub-surface horizon development and soil hydrologies. We wished to elucidate how this long-lived evergreen shrub optimizes leaf-level physiological performance across soils with physicochemical characteristics that affect the distribution of limiting water and nitrogen resources. We found that in young, coarse alluvial soils that permit water infiltration to deeper soil horizons, % foliar N was highest and Delta, g(s) and psi(pd) were lowest,...
In an attempt to describe some major relationships between soil and plant compartments in a shortgrass steppe, the process of water loss from the system and plant water relations throughout a drying cycle were studied. The water supply was manipulated and some soil and plant variables monitored throughout a drying cycle. Leaf conductance and leaf water potential of blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) were measured periodically at predawn and noon. Soil water content and water potential of different layers were also monitored. Three different periods were distinguished in the water loss process throughout a drying cycle. These distinctions were made taking into account the relative contribution of different soil layers....
Certain cave-dwelling mammals, notably North American pack rats (Neotoma spp.), inadvertently preserve plant fragments and other debris in large masses of crystallized urine (e.g., amberat) known as middens. The excel- lent preservation of plant macrofossils in these ubiquitous deposits invites ap- plication of new techniques permitting DNA extractions from mummified plant tissue [1, 2]. In a recent study, it was found that DNA yields in plant tissue from pack rat middens decreased rapidly during the first 1000 to 2000 years, though 45000-year-old material still yielded high-molecular-weight DNA [1]. Now, radioimmunoassay (RIA) of the ancient pack rat urine that protects this plant DNA from oxidation shows the persistence...
Grand Mesa is an erosional remnant on the southern margin of the Piceance basin (Colorado, USA) that appears to host topographically driven groundwater flow in low permeability strata via a pervasive network of vertical extensional fractures. The vertical fractures cut more than 1Â km of clay-rich lithology ranging in age from Upper Cretaceous through Eocene, and likely formed from horizontal dilation, cooling, and erosional unloading associated with 2.8Â km of regional uplift and 1.5Â km of incision by the Gunnison and Colorado rivers. The vertical fractures create anisotropy in which vertical permeability exceeds horizontal permeability. This enhances vertical flow and depth of penetration of groundwater, favors...
Phosphate uptake was measured for Artemisia tridentata, Agropyron desertorum and Pseudoroegneria spicata, three common perennial North American Great Basin species. Four patterns of nutrient-rich microsites were used in the experiments (different distances, densities and nutrient concentrations) All species were more efficient at taking up P from microsites nearest the plants than from more distant microsites. Artemisia and Agropyron acquired P more rapidly from the distant microsites when there was a larger number of microsites and, therefore, a greater probability of encounter. Uptake from the nearest microsites did not increase after 26 days, while uptake from distant microsites increased and was equal to uptake...
Knapweeds (Centaurea spp.) are among the most invasive of non-indigenous plant species that have colonized western North America over the last century. We conducted a 4-year experiment in a reconstructed grassland to test hypotheses related to the ability of grasslands to resist the invasion of diffuse knapweed (C. diffusa). We experimentally invaded C. diffusa and three native species into areas where we manipulated soil nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) availability and removed extant grasses to reduce competition. We evaluated the growth response of these species to these resources and competitive manipulations. Of the native species that were experimentally added, only one species, Ratibida pinnata (prairie coneflower),...


map background search result map search result map Effectiveness of phosphate acquisition by juvenile cold-desert perennials from different patterns of fertile-soil microsites Alkaline hybrid mafic magmas of the Yampa area, NW Colorado, and their relationship to the Yellowstone mantle plume and lithospheric mantle domains First complete sauropod dinosaur skull from the Cretaceous of the Americas and the evolution of sauropod dentition. Alkaline hybrid mafic magmas of the Yampa area, NW Colorado, and their relationship to the Yellowstone mantle plume and lithospheric mantle domains First complete sauropod dinosaur skull from the Cretaceous of the Americas and the evolution of sauropod dentition.