Browsing by Subject "ECOSYSTEM ENGINEERS"

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  • Kivinen, Sonja; Nummi, Petri; Kumpula, Timo (2020)
    Beavers (Castorsp.) are ecosystem engineers that cause significant changes to their physical environment and alter the availability of resources to other species. We studied flood dynamics created by American beaver (C. canadensisK.) in a southern boreal landscape in Finland in 1970-2018. We present for the first time, to our knowledge, a temporally continuous long-term study of beaver-induced flood disturbances starting from the appearance of beaver in the area. During the 49 years, the emergence of new sites flooded by beaver and repeated floods (61% of the sites) formed a dynamic mosaic characterized by clustered patterns of beaver sites. As beaver dispersal proceeded, connectivity of beaver sites increased significantly. The mean flood duration was approximately three years, which highlights the importance of datasets with high-temporal resolution in detecting beaver-induced disturbances. An individual site was often part of the active flood mosaic over several decades, although the duration and the number of repeated floods at different sites varied considerably. Variation of flood-inundated and post-flood phases at individual sites resulted in a cumulative number of unique patches that contribute to environmental heterogeneity in space and time. A disturbance mosaic consisting of patches differing by successional age and flood history is likely to support species richness and abundance of different taxa and facilitate whole species communities. Beavers are thus a suitable means to be used in restoration of riparian habitat due to their strong and dynamic influence on abiotic environment and its biotic consequences.
  • Vehkaoja, Mia; Nummi, Petri; Rikkinen, Jouko (2017)
    Beavers are ecosystem engineers that modify and maintain a range of special habitat types in boreal forests. They also produce large quantities of deadwood that provide substrate for many lignicolous organisms such as calicioid fungi (Ascomycota). We studied how calicioid diversity differed between boreal riparian forests with and without beaver activity. The results show that calicioid diversity were significantly higher at beaver sites compared to the other two forest site types studied. The large quantity and diverse forms of deadwood produced by beavers clearly promotes calicioid diversity in the boreal landscape. The specific lighting and humidity conditions within beaver wetlands could be the reason why they promote the success of certain calicioid species.
  • Maximov, Alexey; Bonsdorff, Erik; Eremina, Tatjana; Kauppi, Laura; Norkko, Alf; Norkko, Joanna (2015)
    Marenzelleria spp. are among the most successful non-native benthic species in the Baltic Sea. These burrowing polychaetes dig deeper than most native Baltic species, performing previously lacking ecosystem functions. We examine evidence from experiments, field sampling and modelling that the introduction of Marenzelleria spp. affects nutrient cycling and biogeochemical processes at the sediment water interface. Over longer time scales, bioirrigation by Marenzelleria spp. has the potential to increase phosphorus retention in bottom deposits because of deeper oxygen penetration into sediments and formation of a deeper oxidized layer. In contrast, nitrogen fluxes from the sediment increase. As a consequence of a decline of the phosphate concentration and/or rising nitrogen/phosphorus ratio, some Northern Baltic ecosystems may experience improvement of the environment because of mitigation of eutrophication and harmful cyanobacteria blooms. Although it is difficult to unambiguously estimate the ecosystem-level consequences of invasion, in many cases it could be considered as positive due to increased structural and functional diversity. The long-term interactions with the native fauna still remain unknown, however, and in this paper we highlight the major knowledge gaps. (C) 2015 Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences., Production and hosting by Elsevier Sp. z o.o.
  • Li, Xiaofei; Zhong, Zhiwei; Sanders, Dirk; Smit, Christian; Wang, Deli; Nummi, Petri; Zhu, Yu; Wang, Ling; Zhu, Hui; Hassan, Nazim (2018)
    While positive interactions have been well documented in plant and sessile benthic marine communities, their role in structuring mobile animal communities and underlying mechanisms has been less explored. Using field removal experiments, we demonstrated that a large vertebrate herbivore (cattle; Bos tarurs) and a much smaller invertebrate (ants; Lasius spp.), the two dominant animal taxa in a semi-arid grassland in Northeast China, facilitate each other. Cattle grazing led to higher ant mound abundance compared with ungrazed sites, while the presence of ant mounds increased the foraging of cattle during the peak of the growing season. Mechanistically, these reciprocal positive effects were driven by habitat amelioration and resource (food) enhancement by cattle and ants (respectively). Cattle facilitated ants, probably by decreasing plant litter accumulation by herbivory and trampling, allowing more light to reach the soil surface leading to microclimatic conditions that favour ants. Ants facilitated cattle probably by increasing soil nutrients via bioturbation, increasing food (plant) biomass and quality (nitrogen content) for cattle. Our study demonstrates reciprocal facilitative interactions between two animal species from phylogenetically very distant taxa. Such reciprocal positive interactions may be more common in animal communities than so far assumed, and they should receive more attention to improve our understanding of species coexistence and animal community assembly.
  • Nummi, Petri; Holopainen, Sari (2020)
    Wetlands are declining worldwide, and there is a great need for their restoration and creation. One natural agent of wetland engineering is beavers,Castorspp., which have returned or are returning to many parts of their former range. We initially studied the facilitative effect of the beaverCastor canadensison a waterbird community consisting of three waders and four ducks in boreal wetlands in southern Finland. Both waterbird species diversity and abundance increased when beavers impounded a pond. Common tealAnas creccaand green sandpiperTringa ochropuswere the species showing the most positive numerical response, but the other five species also increased upon flooding. This article evaluates how the results of the study have been used in management, both in theory and practice. The whole-community facilitation concept has been taken up in numerous articles considering the restorative effects of beavers. It has also been used as ecological background when planning and executing man-made wetland projects in Finland within both the public and the private sectors. Our study and its publication inAquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystemshave set a foundation for further evidence-based management of waterbird communities. As the results show, having beavers as wetland managers is a feasible tool for creating and restoring wetlands for waterbirds and other biota. Moreover, wetland restoration projects are becoming more popular endeavours, owing to an understanding of the diverse benefits of wetlands. Flooding by beavers is used as a model for managers when creating man-made wetlands; for example, in urban areas where it is difficult to maintain beavers.
  • Nummi, Petri; Liao, Wenfei; Huet, Ophélie; Scarpulla, Erminia; Sundell, Janne (2019)
    Beavers are ecosystem engineers which are capable to facilitate many groups of organisms. However, their facilitation of mammals has been little studied. We applied two methods, camera trapping and snow track survey to investigate the facilitation of a mammalian community by the ecosystem engineering of the American beaver (Castor canadensis) in a boreal setting. We found that both mammalian species richness (83% increase) and occurrence (12% increase) were significantly higher in beaver patches than in the controls. Of individual species, the moose (Alces alces) used beaver patches more during both the ice-free season and winter. The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), the pine marten (Martes martes) and the least weasel (Mustela nivalis) made more use of beaver sites during the winter. Our study highlights the role of ecosystem engineers in promoting species richness and abundance, especially in areas of relatively low productivity. Wetlands and their species have been in drastic decline during the past century, and promoting facilitative ecosystem engineering by beaver is feasible in habitat conservation or restoration. Beaver engineering may be especially valuable in landscapes artificially deficient in wetlands. (c) 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
  • Thakur, Madhav P.; Phillips, Helen R. P.; Brose, Ulrich; De Vries, Franciska T.; Lavelle, Patrick; Loreau, Michel; Mathieu, Jerome; Mulder, Christian; Van der Putten, Wim H.; Rillig, Matthias C.; Wardle, David A.; Bach, Elizabeth M.; Bartz, Marie L. C.; Bennett, Joanne M.; Briones, Maria J. I.; Brown, George; Decaëns, Thibaud; Eisenhauer, Nico; Ferlian, Olga; Guerra, Carlos António; König-Ries, Birgitta; Orgiazzi, Alberto; Ramirez, Kelly S.; Russell, David J.; Rutgers, Michiel; Wall, Diana H.; Cameron, Erin K. (2020)
    Soil is one of the most biodiverse terrestrial habitats. Yet, we lack an integrative conceptual framework for understanding the patterns and mechanisms driving soil biodiversity. One of the underlying reasons for our poor understanding of soil biodiversity patterns relates to whether key biodiversity theories (historically developed for aboveground and aquatic organisms) are applicable to patterns of soil biodiversity. Here, we present a systematic literature review to investigate whether and how key biodiversity theories (species-energy relationship, theory of island biogeography, metacommunity theory, niche theory and neutral theory) can explain observed patterns of soil biodiversity. We then discuss two spatial compartments nested within soil at which biodiversity theories can be applied to acknowledge the scale-dependent nature of soil biodiversity.