Microbial richness and composition independently drive soil multifunctionality

Manuel Delgado‐Baquerizo, Pankaj Trivedi, Chanda Trivedi, David J. Eldridge, Peter B. Reich, Thomas C. Jeffries, Brajesh K. Singh Unlike for plants or animals, we have only a limited understanding of the relationships between microbial diversity and composition and ecosystem functioning, particularly in terrestrial environments. Microbes are by far the most abundant and diverse life forms…

Biogenic silica accumulation varies across tussock tundra plant functional type

Joanna C. Carey, Thomas C. Parker, Ned Fetcher and Jianwu Tang Arctic ecosystems are experiencing the effects of climate change to a much larger degree than most other places on Earth. Rapid Arctic warming is changing the types of plants that proliferate in tundra ecosystems, with shrubs often outcompeting grass and sedge species, and permafrost…

Soil and vegetation carbon turnover times from tropical to boreal forests

Jinsong Wang, Jian Sun, Jianyang Xia, Nianpeng He, Meiling Li and Shuli Niu Part of an upcoming Special Feature on Functional Traits Along a Transect! Carbon (C) storage in terrestrial ecosystems is the balance between photosynthetic inputs and C losses by respiration. However, the large variations in the time that C stays in different ecosystem…

Linking the structure and dynamics of populations with ecosystem function

Steven E. McMurray, Joseph R. Pawlik, and Christopher M. Finelli It is often assumed that the functional roles of species within a community are fixed; however, these roles are often dynamic and influenced by the structure and dynamics of populations, including the abundance and size of organisms. Given recent and predicted changes in the populations…

Prairie species differ in the timing of rainfall necessary for flowering

Nathan P. Lemoine, John D. Dietrich, Melinda D. Smith The first European settlers of the midwestern United States were awestruck by the productivity of tallgrass prairies. The fertility of this region was apparent from the number and density of flowering stalks, which can reach over 1.5 m in height for many tallgrass species. Yet species…

Predicting peatland carbon fluxes from non-destructive plant traits

Ellie M. Goud, Tim R. Moore and Nigel T. Roulet Plant functional traits, including morphological, physiological, and phenological characteristics, can influence the ratio between carbon (C) gains and losses by ecosystems, through effects on photosynthesis, respiration and litter decomposition rates. There is growing evidence that rates of C gas (carbon dioxide and methane) exchange (fluxes)…

Review: Stable isotopes in tropical tree rings

Peter van der Sleen, Pieter A. Zuidema,  Thijs L. Pons Tree-ring research is a well-established field in temperate and other strongly seasonal climates. But during recent decades, the formation of annual growth rings has also been shown for a large and growing number of tropical trees, thus allowing tree-ring research in tropical climates. Even more…

Grasslands invaded by non-native species are fast cyclers

Laura Yahdjian, Pedro M. Tognetti, Enrique J. Chaneton Land-use changes often involve the abandonment and natural re-vegetation of former agricultural fields, a process perceived as an opportunity for conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration. In theory, the speed of plant litter decay and nutrient cycling should decelerate as weedy plant species…

Understanding the role of animal defecation in aquatic nutrient cycles

Halvor M. Halvorson, Delaney J. Hall, and Michelle A. Evans-White A central question in ecology is how organisms affect the ecosystems they inhabit. Ecologists have historically addressed this question from many angles; one of the most compelling over the last two decades has been a focus on animal wastes. This is because wastes depend on…