Browsing by Subject "Functional traits"

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  • Herzon, Irina; Marja, Riho; Le Viol, Isabelle; Menshikova, Svetlana; Kondratyev, Aleksander (2018)
    Use of community trait-based metrics has been increasingly implemented for achieving an integrated view of biodiversity in conservation planning. We examined the extent, to which the use of community metrics based on species traits reflecting plausible sensitivity to change would contribute to our understanding of landscape characteristics of importance to the conservation of farmland birds in a poorly studied region of Northwest Russia. We collected species data on farmland from 230 transects covering a total 215 km for each year of 2008, 2010 and 2011 and analysed them using generalised linear mixed modelling. We derived community indices from species traits of habitat specialisation, trophic position, relative brain size and body mass. By relating these indices to the numbers of all species regarded farmland and Species of European Conservation Concern (SPEC), and by analysing them against the type of field and occurrence in typical non-cropped landscape elements, we showed consistent, albeit weak, congruence among the taxonomic and trait-based community descriptors. All community descriptors had their lowest estimates in arable fields. Community specialisation was the highest in open abandoned fields, which confirms the importance of such fields as refuges for regionally specialised species. Pastures were characterised by the highest community biomass, which indicates a particularly good resource base. Presence of ditches, of all non-cropped elements, had the strongest positive relationship with the community descriptors. The SPEC number strongly correlated with the overall species richness of farmland birds. A relatively weak congruence between taxonomic and trait-based community descriptors highlights their cornplementarity in understanding the underlying mechanisms of community changes. However, similarity in patterns among field types means that, under the current level of production in the region, accounting for the species richness of farmland birds seems to be sufficient to rapidly assess community sensitivity to agricultural change.
  • Angove, Charlotte; Norkko, Alf; Gustafsson, Camilla (2018)
    Aquatic plant meadows are valuable components to the 'coastal filter' and it is important to understand the processes that drive their ability to cycle nutrients. However, at present, the field-based evidence for understanding the drivers of nutrient uptake by plants is lacking. This study aimed to investigate how well individual shoots of aquatic plants could meet their nitrogen demands using the sediment nutrient pool (porewater ammonium) and to explore which traits helped to facilitate such uptake. Several species were investigated in shallow, submerged (2-4 m) mixed-species communities in the northern Baltic Sea using incubation experiments with enriched ammonium. After a 3.5 h incubation time, individuals were collected and analysed for nitrogen (% DW) and N-15 (at-%) concentrations. Uptake by plants was calculated per unit nitrogen in response to the N-15 labelled source and to overall nitrogen availability. Background porewater ammonium availability was highly variable between individual plants. Species identity did not significantly affect uptake metrics and the effect of ambient porewater availability was weak. As biomass increased there were significant logarithmic declines in the 95th quantiles of nutrient uptake rates, ambient porewater nutrient availability and aboveground nitrogen tissue concentrations (% DW). Such findings suggested that uptake rates of plants were significantly demand driven and the nutrient conditions of the porewater were significantly driven by the demands of the plant. Findings parameterised the unfulfilled potential for some aquatic plants to cycle nutrients more efficiently and highlighted the potential importance of access to new nutrient sources as a way of enhancing nutrient cycling by aquatic plants. Plant traits and community properties such as the activity of infauna could facilitate such an access and are likely important for nutrient uptake.
  • Luoto, Tomi P.; Ojala, Antti E.K. (2018)
    Arctic freshwater basins are diversity hotspots and sentinels of climate change, but their long-term variability and the environmental variables controlling them are not well defined. We examined four available lake sediment sequences from High Arctic Svalbard for their subfossil Chironomidae communities, biodiversity and functional traits and assessed the influence of climatic and limnological variability on the long-term ecological dynamics. Our results indicated that collector-filterers had an important role in the oligotrophic sites, whereas collector-gatherers dominated the nutrient-enriched sites with significant bird guano inputs. In the oligotrophic sites, benthic production, taxon richness and taxonomic and functional diversity were highest during the early Holocene, when temperatures showed a rapid increase. An increase in subfossil abundance and diversity metrics was also found in recent samples of the oligotrophic sites, but not in the bird-impacted sites, where the trends were decreasing. When partitioning out the environmental forcing on chironomid communities, the influence of climate was significant in all the sites, whereas in-lake production (organic matter) was significant in two of the sites and catchment erosion (magnetic susceptibility) had only minor influence. The findings suggest that major changes in Arctic chironomid assemblages were driven by climate warming with increasing diversity in oligotrophic sites, but deteriorating ecological functions in environmentally stressed sites. We found that although taxonomic and functional diversity were always coupled, taxonomical and functional turnovers were coupled only in the oligotrophic sites suggesting that the ecological functions operated by chironomids in these low-productivity sites may not be as resilient to future environmental change.
  • Malumbres-Olarte, Jagoba; Crespo, Luis Carlos; Domenech, Marc; Cardoso, Pedro; Moya-Larano, Jordi; Ribera, Carles; Arnedo, Miquel A. (2020)
    Understanding the causes behind species richness and endemicity is fundamental to explain biodiversity and assist conservation management, especially in biodiversity hotspots like the Mediterranean Basin. Here we investigate the patterns in Iberian forest spider communities and the processes behind their assembly, by testing hypotheses about the effects of climate and habitat on species richness, endemicity and structure of communities at different spatial scales, and about how microhabitat and dispersal affect the level of endemicity of species. We studied 16 spider communities in IberianQuercusforests from different climatic zones, applying a standardised sampling protocol. We examined the contribution of habitat, climate, and geography to the differences in the composition of spider communities across spatial scales using distance-based redundancy analysis models (dbRDA) and principal coordinates of neighbour matrices (PCNM). We assessed the effects of the same variables on the endemicity of communities (measured by a weighted index), and tested the correlation between the microhabitat and the ballooning frequency (obtained from bibliography), and the endemicity of species through generalised linear models. Spider communities formed two groups-one southern and one northern-based on similarity in species composition. Precipitation and temperature were inversely related with the number of species while geography and forest type explained the compositional similarities between communities at different spatial scales. Endemicity of communities increased with temperature and decreased with precipitation, whereas species endemicity decreased with ballooning frequency. Our findings illustrate how niche-related processes may drive spider diversity while dispersal determines species distribution and identity and, ultimately, community composition. From a conservation viewpoint, when maximising species richness is incompatible with prioritising endemicity, the criteria to follow may depend on the geographic scale at which decisions are made.
  • Happonen, Konsta; Aalto, Juha; Kemppinen, Julia; Niittynen, Pekka; Virkkala, Anna-Maria; Luoto, Miska (2019)
    The functional composition of plant communities is a critical modulator of climate change impacts on ecosystems, but it is not a simple function of regional climate. In the Arctic tundra, where climate change is proceeding the most rapidly, communities have not shifted their trait composition as predicted by spatial temperature-trait relationships. Important causal pathways are thus missing from models of trait composition change. Here, we study causes of plant community functional variation in an oroarctic tundra landscape in Kilpisjarvi, Finland. We consider the community-weighted means of plant vegetative height, as well as two traits related to the leaf economic spectrum. Specifically, we model their responses to locally measured summer air temperature, snow conditions, and soil resource levels. For each of the traits, we also quantify the importance of intraspecific trait variation (ITV) for between-community functional differences and trait-environment matching. Our study shows that in a tundra landscape (1) snow is the most influential abiotic variable affecting functional composition, (2) vegetation height is under weak local environmental control, whereas leaf economics is under strong local environmental control, (3) the relative magnitude of ITV differs between traits, and (4) ITV is not very consequential for community-level trait-environment relationships. Our analyses highlight the importance of winter conditions for community functional composition in seasonal areas. We show that winter climate change can either amplify or counter the effects summer warming, depending on the trait.
  • Weigel, Benjamin; Bonsdorff, Erik (2018)
    Increasing environmental pressures and human impacts are reshaping community structures and species interactions throughout all trophic levels. The morphological and behavioural characteristics of species communities contain key ecological information on why prey species appear attractive to predators but are rarely applied when exploring predator-prey (PP) relationships. Expanding our knowledge on how changing prey communities can alter the food resource suitability (RS) for predators is vital for understanding PP dynamics in changing ecosystems. Detailed predator diet data are commonly restricted to commercially important species and often not available over long temporal scales. To find out whether structural changes of prey communities impact the food RS for predator communities over space and time, we apply a novel framework to describe and interpret changes in predator diet-suitability based on predation-relevant traits of prey. We use information on described feeding links from the literature to compile the prey spectrum for each predator and subsequently translate the prey-species into a prey-trait spectrum. For each predator, we then calculate a frequency-based prey-trait affinity score and relate it to the available food resource pool, the community weighted means of prey traits, resulting in a prey-suitability measure. We aim to reveal whether a described multi-decadal change in the community structure of zoobenthos had an impact on the food suitability for the benthic-feeding fish in a coastal system of the Baltic Sea. We assess the direction of change in resource quality from the perspective of benthic-feeding fish and describe predator-specific responses to examine which species are likely to profit or be disadvantaged by changes in their prey spectrum. Furthermore, we test the relationship between functional diversity of prey communities and food suitability for predators, and whether predation linkage-structures are affected through prey community-changes. Our results show that changes in zoobenthic communities had a positive effect on the food suitability for most benthic-feeding fish, implying more suitable food resources. Species-specific responses of predators suggest varying plasticity to cope with prey assemblages of different trait compositions. Additionally, the functional diversity of zoobenthos had a positive effect on the food suitability for predator fish. The changing trait compositions of prey influenced the PP linkage-structure, indicating varying specialisation of benthic feeding fish towards available food resources. Our findings suggest that changing morphological characteristics of prey can impact food RS features for its predators. This approach enables long-term evaluation of prey quality characteristics where no detailed diet data is available and allows for cross-system comparison as it is not relying on taxonomic identities per se.