Browsing by Subject "TROPHIC CASCADES"

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  • Setälä, Heikki; Szlavecz, Katalin; Pullen, Jamie D.; Parker, John D.; Huang, Yumei; Chang, Chih-Han (2022)
    Acute resource pulses can have dramatic legacies for organismal growth, but the legacy effects of resource pulses on broader aspects of community structure and ecosystem processes are less understood. Mass emergence of periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) provides an excellent opportunity to shed light on the influence of resource pulses on community and ecosystem dynamics: the adults emerge every 13 or 17 years in vast numbers over much of eastern North America, with a smaller but still significant number becoming incorporated into forest food webs. To study the potential effects of such arthropod resource pulse on primary production and belowground food webs, we added adult cicada bodies to the soil surface surrounding sycamore trees and assessed soil carbon and nitrogen concentrations, plant-available nutrients, abundance and community composition of soil fauna occupying various trophic levels, decomposition rate of plant litter after 50 and 100 days, and tree performance for 4 years. Contrary to previous studies, we did not find significant cicada effects on tree performance despite observing higher plant-available nutrient levels on cicada addition plots. Cicada addition did change the community composition of soil nematodes and increased the abundance of bacterial- and fungal-feeding nematodes, while plant feeders, omnivores, and predators were not influenced. Altogether, acute resource pulses from decomposing cicadas propagated belowground to soil microbial-feeding invertebrates and stimulated nutrient mineralization in the soil, but these effects did not transfer up to affect tree performance. We conclude that, despite their influence on soil food web and processes they carry out, even massive resource pulses from arthropods do not necessarily translate to NPP, supporting the view that ephemeral nutrient pulses can be attenuated relatively quickly despite being relatively large in magnitude.
  • Voss, Rudi; Quaas, Martin F.; Schmidt, Joern O.; Tahvonen, Olli; Lindegren, Martin; Moellmann, Christian (2014)
  • Marjakangas, Emma-Liina; Santangeli, Andrea; Johnston, Alison; Michel, Nicole L.; Princé, Karine; Lehikoinen, Aleksi (2022)
    Climate change alters ecological communities by affecting individual species and interactions between species. However, the impacts of climate change may be buffered by community diversity: diverse communities may be more resistant to climate-driven perturbations than simple communities. Here, we assess how diversity influences long-term thermal niche variation in communities under climate change. We use 50-year continental-scale data on bird communities during breeding and non-breeding seasons to quantify the communities’ thermal variability. Thermal variability is measured as the temporal change in the community’s average thermal niche and it indicates community’s response to climate change. Then, we study how the thermal variability varies as a function of taxonomic, functional, and evolutionary diversity using linear models. We find that communities with low thermal niche variation have higher functional diversity, with this pattern being measurable in the non-breeding but not in the breeding season. Given the expected increase in seasonal variation in the future climate, the differences in bird communities’ thermal variability between breeding and non-breeding seasons may grow wider. Importantly, our results suggest that functionally diverse wildlife communities can mitigate effects of climate change by hindering changes in thermal niche variability, which underscores the importance of addressing the climate and biodiversity crises together.
  • Tverin, Malin; Westberg, Melissa; Kokkonen, Iiris; Tang, Patrik; Lehmann, Philipp; Lundström, Karl; Kakelä, Reijo (2019)
    The biochemistry of marine mammal blubber differs vertically from skin to muscle, which forms a challenge for using fatty acids (FAs) from differently sampled blubber as a proxy for dietary studies required for ecosystem-based management of coastal resources. In the blubber of some phocid seal individuals, the vertical stratification of several FAs is pronounced whereas in others the FAs distribute almost evenly through the blubber column. Using gas chromatography, we analysed the blubber vertical FA profiles of 30 adult male grey seals from the Baltic Sea, and examined which factors induced the largest vertical change of FA composition detected at the depth of 15-18mm (outer and middle blubber boundaries). It was revealed that the degree of this compositional shift did not depend on the blubber thickness. Seal age only affected the vertical distribution of the FAs 16:0 and 16:1n-7. However, the outer blubber ratio of 9-desaturated monounsaturated FAs (MUFAs) to their saturated FA (SFA) precursors was not increased by grey seal age, contrasting earlier findings for ringed seals. A major determinant of the degree of FA stratification between the outer and middle blubber was the mismatch between the individually varying FA composition of the innermost blubber, regarded to reflect the dietary FA supply the most, and the uniform FA composition of endogenously regulated MUFA-rich outer blubber. Thus, discarding a fixed-depth layer of the grey seal outermost blubber, which we here show to span 0-18mm from skin and which to a lesser extent reflects the diet of the individual, may in the case of small pinnipeds improve the sensitivity of the FA analysis in assessing spatial, temporal and individual dietary differences. When studying the outer blubber samples using only the diet-derived PUFA variables (SFAs and MUFAs omitted), the sensitivity of the analysis was better than when using this sample type with all main FA variables included.
  • Jansson, Anna; Klais-Peets, Riina; Griniene, Evelina; Rubene, Gunta; Semenova, Anna; Lewandowska, Aleksandra; Engstrom-Öst, Jonna (2020)
    Functional traits are becoming more common in the analysis of marine zooplankton community dynamics associated with environmental change. We used zooplankton groups with common functional properties to assess long-term trends in the zooplankton caused by certain environmental conditions in a highly eutrophicated gulf. Time series of zooplankton traits have been collected since the 1960s in the Gulf of Riga, Baltic Sea, and were analyzed using a combination of multivariate methods (principal coordinate analysis) and generalized additive models. One of the most significant changes was the considerable increase in the amount of the zooplankton functional groups (FGR) in coastal springtime communities, and dominance shifts from more complex to simpler organism groups-cladocerans and rotifers. The results also show that functional trait organism complexity (body size) decreased considerably due to cladoceran and rotifer increase following elevated water temperature. Salinity and oxygen had negligible effects on the zooplankton community.
  • Eriksson, Britas Klemens; Yanos, Casey; Bourlat, Sarah J.; Donadi, Serena; Fontaine, Michael C.; Hansen, Joakim P.; Jakubaviciute, Egle; Kiragosyan, Karine; Maan, Martine E.; Merilä, Juha; Austin, Åsa N.; Olsson, Jens; Reiss, Katrin; Sundblad, Göran; Bergström, Ulf; Eklöf, Johan S. (2021)
    Declines of large predatory fish due to overexploitation are restructuring food webs across the globe. It is now becoming evident that restoring these altered food webs requires addressing not only ecological processes, but evolutionary ones as well, because human-induced rapid evolution may in turn affect ecological dynamics. We studied the potential for niche differentiation between different plate armor phenotypes in a rapidly expanding population of a small prey fish, the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). In the central Baltic Sea, three-spined stickleback abundance has increased dramatically during the past decades. The increase in this typical mesopredator has restructured near-shore food webs, increased filamentous algal blooms, and threatens coastal biodiversity. Time-series data covering 22 years show that the increase coincides with a decline in the number of juvenile perch (Perca fluviatilis), the most abundant predator of stickleback along the coast. We investigated the distribution of different stickleback plate armor phenotypes depending on latitude, environmental conditions, predator and prey abundances, nutrients, and benthic production; and described the stomach content of the stickleback phenotypes using metabarcoding. We found two distinct lateral armor plate phenotypes of stickleback, incompletely and completely plated. The proportion of incompletely plated individuals increased with increasing benthic production and decreasing abundances of adult perch. Metabarcoding showed that the stomach content of the completely plated individuals more often contained invertebrate herbivores (amphipods) than the incompletely plated ones. Since armor plates are defense structures favored by natural selection in the presence of fish predators, the phenotype distribution suggests that a novel low-predation regime favors stickleback with less armor. Our results suggest that morphological differentiation of the three-spined stickleback has the potential to affect food web dynamics and influence the persistence and resilience of the stickleback take-over in the Baltic Sea.
  • Selonen, Olavi; Brommer, Jon E.; Holopainen, Sini; Kauhala, Kaarina; Krüger, Heidi; Poutanen, Johanna; Väänänen, Veli-Matti; Laaksonen, T. (2022)
    The role of an alien predator in the community depends on its interaction with native predators. The absence of apex predators may facilitate outbreaks of invasive mesopredators, but the effect of apex predators may vary between species and environments. We analysed the occurrence of a common invasive mesopredator in Europe, the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides), and native mesopredators, the red fox and the Eurasian badger, in camera-trap data from Finland. The observations in cameras were analysed in relation to the presence of apex predators in the landscape (grey wolf and Eurasian lynx), human density, and habitat. We observed negative effect of increasing presence of wolves and lynxes on the occurrence of raccoon dogs. This effect appeared clear compared to the effects of habitat and human density. The effect of lynxes on raccoon dogs was clearer in areas with short growth season. For the occurrence of badgers, the presence of wolves had a weak negative effect and the presence of lynxes had a positive effect. For the occurrence of red foxes, wolves had a positive effect when agricultural fields were sparse in the landscape and lynxes had no effect. We also observed that the invasive raccoon dog currently appears to be the most common mesopredator within the study area. We conclude that the effect of apex predators on mesopredators depends on the environment and, in our case, was more suppressive on the alien mesopredator than on the native mesopredators. Thus, apex predators can play an important role in controlling invasive mesopredators.
  • Tomczak, Maciej T.; Mueller-Karulis, Barbel; Blenckner, Thorsten; Ehrnsten, Eva; Eero, Margit; Gustafsson, Bo; Norkko, Alf; Otto, Saskia A.; Timmermann, Karen; Humborg, Christoph (2022)
    The occurrence of regime shifts in marine ecosystems has important implications for environmental legislation that requires setting reference levels and targets of quantitative restoration outcomes. The Baltic Sea ecosystem has undergone large changes in the 20(th) century related to anthropogenic pressures and climate variability, which have caused ecosystem reorganization. Here, we compiled historical information and identified relationships in our dataset using multivariate statistics and modeling across 31 biotic and abiotic variables from 1925 to 2005 in the Central Baltic Sea. We identified a series of ecosystem regime shifts in the 1930s, 1970s, and at the end of the 1980s/beginning of the 1990s. In the long term, the Central Baltic Sea showed a regime shift from a benthic to pelagic-dominated state. Historically, benthic components played a significant role in trophic transfer, while in the more recent productive system pelagic-benthic coupling was weak and pelagic components dominated. Our analysis shows that for the entire time period, productivity, climate, and hydrography mainly affected the functioning of the food web, whereas fishing became important more recently. Eutrophication had far-reaching direct and indirect impacts from a long-term perspective and changed not only the trophic state of the system but also affected higher trophic levels. Our study also suggests a switch in regulatory drivers from salinity to oxygen. The "reference ecosystem" identified in our analysis may guide the establishment of an ecosystem state baseline and threshold values for ecosystem state indicators of the Central Baltic Sea.
  • Reusch, Thorsten B. H.; Dierking, Jan; Andersson, Helen C.; Bonsdorff, Erik; Carstensen, Jacob; Casini, Michele; Czajkowski, Mikolaj; Hasler, Berit; Hinsby, Klaus; Hyytiainen, Kari; Johannesson, Kerstin; Jomaa, Seifeddine; Jormalainen, Veijo; Kuosa, Harri; Kurland, Sara; Laikre, Linda; MacKenzie, Brian R.; Margonski, Piotr; Melzner, Frank; Oesterwind, Daniel; Ojaveer, Henn; Refsgaard, Jens Christian; Sandstrom, Annica; Schwarz, Gerald; Tonderski, Karin; Winder, Monika; Zandersen, Marianne (2018)
    Coastal global oceans are expected to undergo drastic changes driven by climate change and increasing anthropogenic pressures in coming decades. Predicting specific future conditions and assessing the best management strategies to maintain ecosystem integrity and sustainable resource use are difficult, because of multiple interacting pressures, uncertain projections, and a lack of test cases for management. We argue that the Baltic Sea can serve as a time machine to study consequences and mitigation of future coastal perturbations, due to its unique combination of an early history of multistressor disturbance and ecosystem deterioration and early implementation of cross-border environmental management to address these problems. The Baltic Sea also stands out in providing a strong scientific foundation and accessibility to long-term data series that provide a unique opportunity to assess the efficacy of management actions to address the breakdown of ecosystem functions. Trend reversals such as the return of top predators, recovering fish stocks, and reduced input of nutrient and harmful substances could be achieved only by implementing an international, cooperative governance structure transcending its complex multistate policy setting, with integrated management of watershed and sea. The Baltic Sea also demonstrates how rapidly progressing global pressures, particularly warming of Baltic waters and the surrounding catchment area, can offset the efficacy of current management approaches. This situation calls for management that is (i) conservative to provide a buffer against regionally unmanageable global perturbations, (ii) adaptive to react to new management challenges, and, ultimately, (iii) multisectorial and integrative to address conflicts associated with economic trade-offs.