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  • Virkkala, Raimo; Lehikoinen, Aleksi (2017)
    Species richness is predicted to increase in the northern latitudes in the warming climate due to ranges of many southern species expanding northwards. We studied changes in the composition of the whole avifauna and in bird species richness in a period of already warming climate in Finland (in northern Europe) covering 1,100km in south-north gradient across the boreal zone (over 300,000km(2)). We compared bird species richness and species-specific changes (for all 235 bird species that occur in Finland) in range size (number of squares occupied) and range shifts (measured as median of area of occupancy) based on bird atlas studies between 1974-1989 and 2006-2010. In addition, we tested how the habitat preference and migration strategy of species explain species-specific variation in the change of the range size. The study was carried out in 10km squares with similar research intensity in both time periods. The species richness did not change significantly between the two time periods. The composition of the bird fauna, however, changed considerably with 37.0% of species showing an increase and 34.9% a decrease in the numbers of occupied squares, that is, about equal number of species gained and lost their range. Altogether 95.7% of all species (225/235) showed changes either in the numbers of occupied squares or they experienced a range shift (or both). The range size of archipelago birds increased and long-distance migrants declined significantly. Range loss observed in long-distance migrants is in line with the observed population declines of long-distance migrants in the whole Europe. The results show that there is an ongoing considerable species turnover due to climate change and due to land use and other direct human influence. High bird species turnover observed in northern Europe may also affect the functional diversity of species communities.
  • Gammal, Johanna; Hewitt, Judi; Norkko, Joanna; Norkko, Alf; Thrush, Simon (2020)
    The biodiversity crisis has increased interest in understanding the role of biodiversity for ecosystem functioning. Functional traits are often used to infer ecosystem functions to increase our understanding of these relationships over larger spatial scales. The links between specific traits and ecosystem functioning are, however, not always well established. We investigated how the choice of analyzing either individual species, selected modalities, or trait combinations affected the spatial patterns observed on a sandflat and how this was related to the natural variability in ecosystem functioning. A large dataset of 400 benthic macrofauna samples was used to explore distribution patterns. We hypothesized that (1) if multiple species (redundancy) represent a trait combination or a modality their spatial patterns would be smoothed out, and (2) the lost spatial variability within a trait combination or modality, due to the smoothing effect, would potentially affect their utility for predicting ecosystem functioning (tested on a dataset of 24 samples). We predicted that species would show heterogeneous small spatial patterns, while modalities and trait combinations would show larger and more homogeneous patterns because they would represent a collection of many distributions. If modalities and trait combinations are better predictors of ecosystem functioning than species, then the smoother spatial patterns of modalities and trait combinations would result in a more homogeneous landscape of ecosystem function and the number of species exhibiting specific traits would provide functional redundancy. Our results showed some smoothing of spatial patterns progressing from species through modalities to trait combinations, but generally spatial patterns reflected a few dominant key species. Moreover, some individual modalities and species explained more or equal proportions of the variance in the ecosystem functioning than the combined traits. The findings thus suggest that only some spatial variability is lost when species are combined into modalities and trait combinations and that a homogeneous landscape of ecosystem function is not likely.
  • Kaikkonen, Laura; Virtanen, Elina A.; Kostamo, Kirsi; Lappalainen, Juho; Kotilainen, Aarno T. (2019)
    Ferromanganese (FeMn) concretions are mineral precipitates found on soft sediment seafloors both in the deep sea and coastal sea areas. These mineral deposits potentially form a three-dimensional habitat for marine organisms, and contain minerals targeted by an emerging seabed mining industry. While FeMn concretions are known to occur abundantly in coastal sea areas, specific information on their spatial distribution and significance for marine ecosystems is lacking. Here, we examine the distribution of FeMn concretions in Finnish marine areas. Drawing on an extensive dataset of 140,000 sites visited by the Finnish Inventory Programme for the Underwater Marine Environment (VELMU), we examine the occurrence of FeMn concretions from seabed mapping, and use spatial modeling techniques to estimate the potential coverage of FeMn concretions. Using seafloor characteristics and hydrographical conditions as predictor variables, we demonstrate that the extent of seafloors covered by concretions in the northern Baltic Sea is larger than anticipated, as concretions were found at similar to 7000 sites, and were projected to occur on over 11% of the Finnish sea areas. These results provide new insights into seafloor complexity in coastal sea areas, and further enable examining the ecological role and resource potential of seabed mineral concretions.
  • Virkkala, Raimo; Pöyry, Juha; Heikkinen, Risto K.; Lehikoinen, Aleksi; Valkama, Jari (2014)
  • Harvey, Michael G.; Bravo, Gustavo A.; Claramunt, Santiago; Cuervo, Andres M.; Derryberry, Graham E.; Battilana, Jaqueline; Seeholzer, Glenn F.; McKay, Jessica Shearer; O'Meara, Brian C.; Faircloth, Brant C.; Edwards, Scott; Perez-Eman, Jorge; Moyle, Robert G.; Sheldon, Frederick H.; Aleixo, Alexandre; Smith, Brian Tilston; Chesser, R. Terry; Silveira, Luis Fabio; Cracraft, Joel; Brumfield, Robb T.; Derryberry, Elizabeth P. (2020)
    The tropics are the source of most biodiversity yet inadequate sampling obscures answers to fundamental questions about how this diversity evolves. We leveraged samples assembled over decades of fieldwork to study diversification of the largest tropical bird radiation, the suboscine passerines. Our phylogeny, estimated using data from 2389 genomic regions in 1940 individuals of 1287 species, reveals that peak suboscine species diversity in the Neotropics is not associated with high recent speciation rates but rather with the gradual accumulation of species over time. Paradoxically, the highest speciation rates are in lineages from regions with low species diversity, which are generally cold, dry, unstable environments. Our results reveal a model in which species are forming faster in environmental extremes but have accumulated in moderate environments to form tropical biodiversity hotspots.
  • Scheinin, Matias; Asmala, Eero (2020)
    Productivity and trophic status of aquatic systems is traditionally quantified by chlorophyll a measurements. Environmental conditions and ecological interactions cause variability in chlorophyll a abundance. In coastal ecosystems, shallow and complex bathymetry reduces vertical heterogeneity, but promotes horizontal heterogeneity. However, coastal monitoring programs and scientific surveys are primarily focused on the vertical dimension. Here we demonstrate the spatial patchiness of chlorophyll a in coastal waters. We collected horizontally detailed and extensive in situ chlorophyll a data from the coastal Baltic Sea (SW Finland), covering the ice-free season of an annual cycle. Altogether, more than 200,000 observations were logged by an automated underway measurement system equipped with an optical sensor connected to a flow-through system. We analyzed the spatial heterogeneity of calibrated chlorophyll a data by using multiple statistical approaches, and quantified the chlorophyll a patches using a rolling average filter. We were able to identify patches and quantify their abundance and size for each of the 11 sampling campaigns. On average, 285 patches, ranging from 0.6 to 3142 m in size, were observed on the 830 km sampling transect. The average size of the patches was 237 (95% CI 226-248) m, most patches being between 10 and 1000 m. Our results show that patches of chlorophyll a can be effectively identified and quantified by modern in situ optical instrumentation. Such information is both theoretically and practically relevant. First, these results increase our understanding of the overall heterogeneity of the coastal environment. Further, they demonstrate the value of knowing the magnitude and occurrence of chlorophyll a patchiness in accurate detection of changes in coastal ecosystems caused by increased inputs of nutrients.