Habitat heterogeneity induces rapid changes in the feeding behaviour of generalist arthropod predators

Karin Staudacher, Oskar Rennstam Rubbmark, Klaus Birkhofer, Gerard Malsher, Daniela Sint, Mattias Jonsson & Michael Traugott The habitat heterogeneity hypothesis predicts that complex ecosystems will be inhabited by a more diverse set of species than simple ones. Moreover, increased habitat heterogeneity can affect the functioning of communities, but this is not well understood as species…

Biotic and abiotic modifications of leaf litter during dry periods affect litter mass loss and nitrogen loss during wet periods

Daniel Gliksman, Sabine Haenel, José M. Grünzweig Decomposition of organic matter is a key factor determining the global carbon cycle, and thus affects the on-going changes in climate. The decay of above-ground plant material (litter) in drylands is not well understood, reducing the accuracy of predictions for the carbon cycle.  Recently, water vapour and dew…

Soil diversity promotes plant diversity

E.R. Jasper Wubs and T. Martijn Bezemer A long-standing question in ecology is how biodiversity is maintained. While there are many hypotheses, recently plant ecologists have focused their attention on the diversity of organisms in the soil as a key mechanism. The idea is simple and elegant: each plant species has its own specific enemies…

Linking intra-specific trait variation to community abundance dynamics improves ecological predictability by revealing a growth-defence trade-off.

Jason I. Griffiths, Owen L. Petchey, Frank Pennekamp & Dylan Z. Childs   Trait change in one species can influence the population dynamics of another, by modifying the strength of ecological interactions between them. For example, inducible defences such as thorns, toxins and armament reduce predation rates, allowing prey populations to increase. In turn, population…

Fungal inoculants in the field – is the reward greater than the risk?

Miranda M. Hart, Pedro M. Antunes, V. Bala Chaudhary and Lynette K. Abbott Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are root dwelling fungi that are marketed as biofertilizers to improve plant growth. Despite the increased use of AMF inocula by growers around the world, there is little evidence that they promote plant or soil health in all…

Trophic consequences of introduced species: impacts of increased inter-specific versus intra-specific competitive interactions

Robert Britton, Ana Ruiz-Navarro, Hugo Verreycken and Fatima Amat-Trigo Species are regularly moved from regions where they are found naturally into new regions. These ‘non-native’ species can then cause considerable ecological disruption (‘impact’). For example, when non-native and native species share the same food items then they compete (‘inter-specific’ competition). This can impact both species,…

Drivers of productivity, biomass and soil organic matter

Masha T. van der Sande, Eric J. M. M. Arets, Marielos Peña-Claros, Marcel R. Hoosbeek, Yasmani Cáceres-Siani, Peter van der Hout and Lourens Poorter Tropical forests remove and store large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, and therefore fulfil an important role in reducing climate change. However, we poorly understand how the…

Soil organic matter availability and climate drive latitudinal patterns in bacterial diversity from tropical to cold-temperate forests

Jing Tiana, Nianpeng He, Lauren Hale, Shuli Niu, Guirui Yua, Yuan Liu, Evgenia Blagodatskaya, Yakov Kuzyakov, Qun Gao and Jizhong Zhou Patterns of variation in plant diversity at local, regional and global scales have been extensively studied. But despite the crucial role of bacteria for terrestrial ecosystem functioning, our understanding of their large-scale biogeography patterns…

Fish contests and community structure

Kai C. Paijmans and Marian Y.L. Wong Contests are a method by which animals resolve conflict over access to resources such as food, shelter and mates. Contest theory is a complex set of models which explain the mechanisms, dynamics and outcomes of animal contests. Because competition for limiting resources is an established mechanism by which…