Browsing by Subject "ECOLOGY"

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  • Fondi, Marco; Karkman, Antti; Tamminen, Manu V.; Bosi, Emanuele; Virta, Marko; Fani, Renato; Alm, Eric; McInerney, James O. (2016)
    The spatial distribution of microbes on our planet is famously formulated in the Baas Becking hypothesis as everything is everywhere but the environment selects." While this hypothesis does not strictly rule out patterns caused by geographical effects on ecology and historical founder effects, it does propose that the remarkable dispersal potential of microbes leads to distributions generally shaped by environmental factors rather than geographical distance. By constructing sequence similarity networks from uncultured environmental samples, we show that microbial gene pool distributions are not influenced nearly as much by geography as ecology, thus extending the Bass Becking hypothesis from whole organisms to microbial genes. We find that gene pools are shaped by their broad ecological niche (such as sea water, fresh water, host, and airborne). We find that freshwater habitats act as a gene exchange bridge between otherwise disconnected habitats. Finally, certain antibiotic resistance genes deviate from the general trend of habitat specificity by exhibiting a high degree of cross-habitat mobility. The strong cross-habitat mobility of antibiotic resistance genes is a cause for concern and provides a paradigmatic example of the rate by which genes colonize new habitats when new selective forces emerge.
  • Heinaro, Einari; Tanhuanpaa, Topi; Yrttimaa, Tuomas; Holopainen, Markus; Vastaranta, Mikko (2021)
    Fallen trees decompose on the forest floor and create habitats for many species. Thus, mapping fallen trees allows identifying the most valuable areas regarding biodiversity, especially in boreal forests, enabling well-focused conservation and restoration actions. Airborne laser scanning (ALS) is capable of characterizing forests and the underlying topography. However, its potential for detecting and characterizing fallen trees under varying boreal forest conditions is not yet well understood. ALS-based fallen tree detection methods could improve our understanding regarding the spatiotemporal characteristics of dead wood over large landscapes. We developed and tested an automatic method for mapping individual fallen trees from an ALS point cloud with a point density of 15 points/m2. The presented method detects fallen trees using iterative Hough line detection and delineates the trees around the detected lines using region growing. Furthermore, we conducted a detailed evaluation of how the performance of ALS-based fallen tree detection is impacted by characteristics of fallen trees and the structure of vegetation around them. The results of this study showed that large fallen trees can be detected with a high accuracy in old-growth forests. In contrast, the detection of fallen trees in young managed stands proved challenging. The presented method was able to detect 78% of the largest fallen trees (diameter at breast height, DBH > 300 mm), whereas 30% of all trees with a DBH over 100 mm were detected. The performance of the detection method was positively correlated with both the size of fallen trees and the size of living trees surrounding them. In contrast, the performance was negatively correlated with the amount of undergrowth, ground vegetation, and the state of decay of fallen trees. Especially undergrowth and ground vegetation impacted the performance negatively, as they covered some of the fallen trees and lead to false fallen tree detections. Based on the results of this study, ALS-based collection of fallen tree information should be focused on old-growth forests and mature managed forests, at least with the current operative point densities.
  • Jaatinen, Kim; Moller, Anders P.; Ost, Markus (2019)
    The direction of predator-mediated selection on brain size is debated. However, the speed and the accuracy of performing a task cannot be simultaneously maximized. Large-brained individuals may be predisposed to accurate but slow decision-making, beneficial under high predation risk, but costly under low risk. This creates the possibility of temporally fluctuating selection on brain size depending on overall predation risk. We test this idea in nesting wild eider females (Somateria mollissima), in which head volume is tightly linked to brain mass (r(2) = 0.73). We determined how female relative head volume relates to survival, and characterized the seasonal timing of predation. Previous work suggests that relatively large-brained and small-brained females make slow versus fast nest-site decisions, respectively, and that predation events occur seasonally earlier when predation is severe. Large-brained, late-breeding females may therefore have higher survival during high-predation years, but lower survival during safe years, assuming that predation disproportionately affects late breeders in such years. Relatively large-headed females outsurvived smaller-headed females during dangerous years, whereas the opposite was true in safer years. Predation events occurred relatively later during safe years. Fluctuations in the direction of survival selection on relative brain size may therefore arise due to brain-size dependent breeding phenology.
  • Siren, Jukka; Lens, Luc; Cousseau, Laurence; Ovaskainen, Otso (2018)
    1. Individual-based models (IBMs) allow realistic and flexible modelling of ecological systems, but their parameterization with empirical data is statistically and computationally challenging. Approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) has been proposed as an efficient approach for inference with IBMs, but its applicability to data on natural populations has not been yet fully explored. 2. We construct an IBM for the metapopulation dynamics of a species inhabiting a fragmented patch network, and develop an ABC method for parameterization of the model. We consider several scenarios of data availability from count data to combination of mark-recapture and genetic data. We analyse both simulated and real data on white-starred robin (Pogonocichla stellata), a passerine bird living in montane forest environment in Kenya, and assess how the amount and type of data affect the estimates of model parameters and indicators of population state. 3. The indicators of the population state could be reliably estimated using the ABC method, but full parameterization was not achieved due to strong posterior correlations between model parameters. While the combination of the data types did not provide more accurate estimates for most of the indicators of population state or model parameters than the most informative data type (ringing data or genetic data) alone, the combined data allowed robust simultaneous estimation of all unknown quantities. 4. Our results show that ABC methods provide a powerful and flexible technique forparameterizing complex IBMs with multiple data sources, and assessing the dynamics of the population in a robust manner.
  • Virta, Leena; Soininen, Janne; Norkko, Alf (2021)
    The global biodiversity loss has increased the need to understand the effects of decreasing diversity, but our knowledge on how species loss will affect the functioning of communities and ecosystems is still very limited. Here, the levels of taxonomic and functional beta diversity and the effect of species loss on functional beta diversity were investigated in an estuary that provides a naturally steep environmental gradient. The study was conducted using diatoms that are among the most important microorganisms in all aquatic ecosystems and globally account for 40% of marine primary production. Along the estuary, the taxonomic beta diversity of diatom communities was high (Bray-Curtis taxonomic similarity 0.044) and strongly controlled by the environment, particularly wind exposure, salinity, and temperature. In contrast, the functional beta diversity was low (Bray-Curtis functional similarity 0.658) and much less controlled by the environment. Thus, the diatom communities stayed functionally almost similar despite large changes in species composition and environment. This may indicate that, through high taxonomic diversity and redundancy in functions, microorganisms provide an insurance effect against environmental change. However, when studying the effect of decreasing species richness on functional similarity of communities, simulated species loss to 45% of the current species richness decreased functional similarity significantly. This suggests that decreasing species richness may increase variability and reduce the stability and resilience of communities. These results highlight the importance of high taxonomic biodiversity for the stable functioning of benthic communities.
  • Halliday, Fletcher W.; Rohr, Jason R.; Laine, Anna-Liisa (2020)
    The dilution effect predicts increasing biodiversity to reduce the risk of infection, but the generality of this effect remains unresolved. Because biodiversity loss generates predictable changes in host community competence, we hypothesised that biodiversity loss might drive the dilution effect. We tested this hypothesis by reanalysing four previously published meta-analyses that came to contradictory conclusions regarding generality of the dilution effect. In the context of biodiversity loss, our analyses revealed a unifying pattern: dilution effects were inconsistently observed for natural biodiversity gradients, but were commonly observed for biodiversity gradients generated by disturbances causing losses of biodiversity. Incorporating biodiversity loss into tests of generality of the dilution effect further indicated that scale-dependency may strengthen the dilution effect only when biodiversity gradients are driven by biodiversity loss. Together, these results help to resolve one of the most contentious issues in disease ecology: the generality of the dilution effect.
  • Kuussaari, Mikko; Toivonen, Marjaana; Heliola, Janne; Poyry, Juha; Mellado, Jorge; Ekroos, Johan; Hyyrylainen, Vesa; Vähä-Piikkiö, Inkeri; Tiainen, Juha (2021)
    Good knowledge on how increasing urbanization affects biodiversity is essential in order to preserve biodiversity in urban green spaces. We examined how urban development affects species richness and total abundance of butterflies as well as the occurrence and abundance of individual species within the Helsinki metropolitan area in Northern Europe. Repeated butterfly counts in 167 separate 1-km-long transects within Helsinki covered the entire urbanization gradient, quantified by human population density and the proportion of built-up area (within a 50-m buffer surrounding each butterfly transect). We found consistently negative effects of both human population density and built-up area on all studied butterfly variables, though butterflies responded markedly more negatively to increasing human population density than to built-up area. Responses in butterfly species richness and total abundance showed higher variability in relation to proportion of built-up area than to human density, especially in areas of high human density. Increasing human density negatively affected both the abundance and the occurrence of 47% of the 19 most abundant species, whereas, for the proportion of built-up area, the corresponding percentages were 32% and 32%, respectively. Species with high habitat specificity and low mobility showed higher sensitivity to urbanization (especially high human population density) than habitat generalists and mobile species that dominated the urban butterfly communities. Our results suggest that human population density provides a better indicator of urbanization effects on butterflies compared to the proportion of built-up area. The generality of this finding should be verified in other contexts and taxonomic groups.
  • Hamalainen, Liisa; Rowland, Hannah M.; Mappes, Johanna; Thorogood, Rose (2017)
    Video playback is becoming a common method for manipulating social stimuli in experiments. Parid tits are one of the most commonly studied groups of wild birds. However, it is not yet clear if tits respond to video playback or how their behavioural responses should be measured. Behaviours may also differ depending on what they observe demonstrators encountering. Here we present blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) videos of demonstrators discovering palatable or aversive prey (injected with bitter-tasting Bitrex) from coloured feeding cups. First we quantify variation in demonstrators' responses to the prey items: aversive prey provoked high rates of beak wiping and head shaking. We then show that focal blue tits respond differently to the presence of a demonstrator on a video screen, depending on whether demonstrators discover palatable or aversive prey. Focal birds faced the video screen more during aversive prey presentations, and made more head turns. Regardless of prey type, focal birds also hopped more frequently during the presence of a demonstrator (compared to a control video of a different coloured feeding cup in an empty cage). Finally, we tested if demonstrators' behaviour affected focal birds' food preferences by giving individuals a choice to forage from the same cup as a demonstrator, or from the cup in the control video. We found that only half of the individuals made their choice in accordance to social information in the videos, i.e., their foraging choices were not different from random. Individuals that chose in accordance with a demonstrator, however, made their choice faster than individuals that chose an alternative cup. Together, our results suggest that video playback can provide social cues to blue tits, but individuals vary greatly in how they use this information in their foraging decisions.
  • Bolotov, Ivan N.; Makhrov, Alexander A.; Gofarov, Mikhail Yu.; Aksenova, Olga V.; Aspholm, Paul E.; Bespalaya, Yulia V.; Kabakov, Mikhail B.; Kolosova, Yulia S.; Kondakov, Alexander V.; Ofenbock, Thomas; Ostrovsky, Andrew N.; Popov, Igor Yu.; von Proschwitz, Ted; Rudzite, Mudite; Rudzitis, Maris; Sokolova, Svetlana E.; Valovirta, Ilmari; Vikhrev, Ilya V.; Vinarski, Maxim V.; Zotin, Alexey A. (2018)
    The effects of climate change on oligotrophic rivers and their communities are almost unknown, albeit these ecosystems are the primary habitat of the critically endangered freshwater pearl mussel and its host fishes, salmonids. The distribution and abundance of pearl mussels have drastically decreased throughout Europe over the last century, particularly within the southern part of the range, but causes of this wide-scale extinction process are unclear. Here we estimate the effects of climate change on pearl mussels based on historical and recent samples from 50 rivers and 6 countries across Europe. We found that the shell convexity may be considered an indicator of the thermal effects on pearl mussel populations under warming climate because it reflects shifts in summer temperatures and is significantly different in viable and declining populations. Spatial and temporal modeling of the relationship between shell convexity and population status show that global climate change could have accelerated the population decline of pearl mussels over the last 100 years through rapidly decreasing suitable distribution areas. Simulation predicts future warming-induced range reduction, particularly in southern regions. These results highlight the importance of large-scale studies of keystone species, which can underscore the hidden effects of climate warming on freshwater ecosystems.
  • Chen, Zhi-Hai; Qin, Xin-Cheng; Song, Rui; Shen, Yi; Chen, Xiao-Ping; Wang, Wen; Zhao, Yong-Xiang; Zhang, Jing-Shan; He, Jin-Rong; Li, Ming-Hui; Zhao, Xue-Hua; Liu, De-Wei; Fu, Xiao-Kang; Tian, Di; Li, Xing-Wang; Xu, Jianguo; Plyusnin, Alexander; Holmes, Edward C.; Zhang, Yong-Zhen (2014)
  • van der Wal, Jessica E. M.; Thorogood, Rose; Horrocks, Nicholas P. C. (2021)
    Collaboration and diversity are increasingly promoted in science. Yet how collaborations influence academic career progression, and whether this differs by gender, remains largely unknown. Here, we use co-authorship ego networks to quantify collaboration behaviour and career progression of a cohort of contributors to biennial International Society of Behavioral Ecology meetings (1992, 1994, 1996). Among this cohort, women were slower and less likely to become a principal investigator (PI; approximated by having at least three last-author publications) and published fewer papers over fewer years (i.e. had shorter academic careers) than men. After adjusting for publication number, women also had fewer collaborators (lower adjusted network size) and published fewer times with each co-author (lower adjusted tie strength), albeit more often with the same group of collaborators (higher adjusted clustering coefficient). Authors with stronger networks were more likely to become a PI, and those with less clustered networks did so more quickly. Women, however, showed a stronger positive relationship with adjusted network size (increased career length) and adjusted tie strength (increased likelihood to become a PI). Finally, early-career network characteristics correlated with career length. Our results suggest that large and varied collaboration networks are positively correlated with career progression, especially for women.
  • Mammola, Stefano; Lunghi, Enrico; Bilandžija, Helena; Cardoso, Pedro; Grimm, Volker; Schmidt, Susanne I.; Hesselberg, Thomas; Martinez, Alejandro (2021)
    Caves and other subterranean habitats fulfill the requirements of experimental model systems to address general questions in ecology and evolution. Yet, the harsh working conditions of these environments and the uniqueness of the subterranean organisms have challenged most attempts to pursuit standardized research. Two main obstacles have synergistically hampered previous attempts. First, there is a habitat impediment related to the objective difficulties of exploring subterranean habitats and our inability to access the network of fissures that represents the elective habitat for the so-called "cave species." Second, there is a biological impediment illustrated by the rarity of most subterranean species and their low physiological tolerance, often limiting sample size and complicating laboratory experiments. We explore the advantages and disadvantages of four general experimental setups (in situ, quasi in situ, ex situ, and in silico) in the light of habitat and biological impediments. We also discuss the potential of indirect approaches to research. Furthermore, using bibliometric data, we provide a quantitative overview of the model organisms that scientists have exploited in the study of subterranean life. Our over-arching goal is to promote caves as model systems where one can perform standardized scientific research. This is important not only to achieve an in-depth understanding of the functioning of subterranean ecosystems but also to fully exploit their long-discussed potential in addressing general scientific questions with implications beyond the boundaries of this discipline.
  • Byholm, Patrik; Burgas, Daniel; Virtanen, Tarmo; Valkama, Jari (2012)
  • Gurarie, Eliezer; Fleming, Christen H.; Fagan, William F.; Laidre, Kristin L.; Hernandez-Pliego, Jesus; Ovaskainen, Otso (2017)
    Background: Continuous time movement models resolve many of the problems with scaling, sampling, and interpretation that affect discrete movement models. They can, however, be challenging to estimate, have been presented in inconsistent ways, and are not widely used. Methods: We review the literature on integrated Ornstein-Uhlenbeck velocity models and propose four fundamental correlated velocity movement models (CVM's): random, advective, rotational, and rotational-advective. The models are defined in terms of biologically meaningful speeds and time scales of autocorrelation. We summarize several approaches to estimating the models, and apply these tools for the higher order task of behavioral partitioning via change point analysis. Results: An array of simulation illustrate the precision and accuracy of the estimation tools. An analysis of a swimming track of a bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) illustrates their robustness to irregular and sparse sampling and identifies switches between slower and faster, and directed vs. random movements. An analysis of a short flight of a lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) identifies exact moments when switches occur between loopy, thermal soaring and directed flapping or gliding flights. Conclusions: We provide tools to estimate parameters and perform change point analyses in continuous time movement models as an R package (smoove). These resources, together with the synthesis, should facilitate the wider application and development of correlated velocity models among movement ecologists.
  • Hooijer, A.; Page, S.; Canadell, J. G.; Silvius, M.; Kwadijk, J.; Wosten, H.; Jauhiainen, J. (2010)
  • Halme, Panu; Purhonen, Jenna; Marjakangas, Emma-Liina; Komonen, Atte; Juutilainen, Katja; Abrego, Nerea (2019)
    Dead wood profile of a forest is a useful tool for describing forest characteristics and assessing forest disturbance history. Nevertheless, there are few studies on dead wood profiles, including both coarse and fine dead wood, and on the effect of sampling intensity on the dead wood estimates. In a semi-natural boreal forest, we measured every dead wood item over 2 cm in diameter from 80 study plots. From eight plots, we further recorded dead wood items below 2 cm in diameter. Based on these data we constructed the full dead wood profile, i.e. the overall number of dead wood items and their distribution among different tree species, volumes of different size and decay stage categories. We discovered that while the number of small dead wood items was immense, their number dropped drastically from the diameter below 1 cm to diameters 2-3 cm. Different tree species had notably different abundance-diameter distribution patterns: spruce dead wood comprised most strikingly the smallest diameter fractions, whereas aspen dead wood comprised a larger share of large-diameter items. Most of the dead wood volume constituted of large pieces (>10 cm in diameter), and 62% of volume was birch. The variation in the dead wood estimates was small for the numerically dominant tree species and smallest diameter categories, but high for the sub-dominant tree species and larger size categories. In conclusion, the more the focus is on rare tree species and large dead wood items, the more comprehensive should the sampling be.
  • Carvalho, Jose C.; Cardoso, Pedro (2020)
    Hutchinson's n-dimensional hypervolume concept holds a central role across different fields of ecology and evolution. The question of the amount of hypervolume overlap and differentiation between species is of great interest to understand the processes that drive niche dynamics, competitive interactions and, ultimately, community assembly. A framework is proposed to decompose overall differentiation among hypervolumes into two distinct components: niche shifts and niche contraction/expansion processes. Niche shift corresponds to the replacement of space between the hypervolumes occupied by two species, whereas niche contraction/expansion processes correspond to net differences between the amount of space enclosed by each hypervolume. A procedure to implement non-continuous trait data in the estimation ofn-dimensional hypervolumes is proposed. Hypervolumes were constructed for three Darwin' finches,Geospiza conirostris,Geospiza magnirostris, andGeospiza difficilisusing intraspecific trait data. Results showed that significant niche shifts, not niche contraction, occurred betweenG. conirostrisandG. magnirostrisin Genovesa island, where they live in sympatry. This means thatG. conirostrisoccupied a different niche space and not a reduced space on Genovesa.G. difficiliswas well differentiated from the other two species. The proposed framework allows disentangling different processes underlying niche partitioning between coexisting species. This framework offers novel insights to understand the drivers of niche partitioning strategies among coexisting species.
  • von Crautlein, Maria; Korpelainen, Helena; Helander, Marjo; Vare, Henry; Saikkonen, Kari (2014)
  • Horesh, Gal; Taylor-Brown, Alyce; McGimpsey, Stephanie; Lassalle, Florent; Corander, Jukka; Heinz, Eva; Thomson, Nicholas R. (2021)
    The pan-genome is defined as the combined set of all genes in the gene pool of a species. Pan-genome analyses have been very useful in helping to understand different evolutionary dynamics of bacterial species: an open pan-genome often indicates a free-living lifestyle with metabolic versatility, while closed pan-genomes are linked to host-restricted, ecologically specialized bacteria. A detailed understanding of the species pan-genome has also been instrumental in tracking the phylodynamics of emerging drug resistance mechanisms and drug-resistant pathogens. However, current approaches to analyse a species' pan-genome do not take the species population structure into account, nor do they account for the uneven sampling of different lineages, as is commonplace due to over -sampling of clinically relevant representatives. Here we present the application of a population structure- aware approach for classify-ing genes in a pan-genome based on within-species distribution. We demonstrate our approach on a collection of 7500 Escherichia coli genomes, one of the most-studied bacterial species and used as a model for an open pan-genome. We reveal clearly distinct groups of genes, clustered by different underlying evolutionary dynamics, and provide a more biologically informed and accurate description of the species' pan-genome.
  • Susi, Hanna; Filloux, Denis; Frilander, Mildco J.; Roumagnac, Philippe; Laine, Anna-Liisa (2019)
    Wild plant populations may harbour a myriad of unknown viruses. As the majority of research efforts have targeted economically important plant species, the diversity and prevalence of viruses in the wild has remained largely unknown. However, the recent shift towards metagenomics-based sequencing methodologies, especially those targeting small RNAs, is finally enabling virus discovery from wild hosts. Understanding this diversity of potentially pathogenic microbes in the wild can offer insights into the components of natural biodiversity that promotes long-term coexistence between hosts and parasites in nature, and help predict when and where risks of disease emergence are highest. Here, we used small RNA deep sequencing to identify viruses in Plantago lanceolata populations, and to understand the variation in their prevalence and distribution across the Aland Islands, South-West Finland. By subsequent design of PCR primers, we screened the five most common viruses from two sets of P. lanceolata plants: 164 plants collected from 12 populations irrespective of symptoms, and 90 plants collected from five populations showing conspicuous viral symptoms. In addition to the previously reported species Plantago lanceolata latent virus (PlLV), we found four potentially novel virus species belonging to Caulimovirus, Betapartitivirus, Enamovirus, and Closterovirus genera. Our results show that virus prevalence and diversity varied among the sampled host populations. In six of the virus infected populations only a single virus species was detected, while five of the populations supported between two to five of the studied virus species. In 20% of the infected plants, viruses occurred as coinfections. When the relationship between conspicuous viral symptoms and virus infection was investigated, we found that plants showing symptoms were usually infected (84%), but virus infections were also detected from asymptomatic plants (44%). Jointly, these results reveal a diverse virus community with newly developed tools and protocols that offer exciting opportunities for future studies on the eco-evolutionary dynamics of viruses infecting plants in the wild.