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Title: A Subcontinental Analysis of Forest Fragmentation Effects on Insect and Disease Invasion
The influences of human and physical factors on species invasions have been extensively examined by ecologists across many regions. However, how habitat fragmentation per se may affect forest insect and disease invasion has not been well studied, especially the related patterns over regional or subcontinental scales. Here, using national survey data on forest pest richness and fragmentation data across United States forest ecosystems, we examine how forest fragmentation and edge types (neighboring land cover) may affect pest richness at the county level. Our results show that habitat fragmentation and edge types both affected pest richness. In general, specialist insects and pathogens were more sensitive to fragmentation and edge types than generalists, while pathogens were much less sensitive to fragmentation and edge types than insect pests. Most importantly, the developed land edge type contributed the most to the richness of nonnative insects and diseases, whether measured by the combination of all pest species or by separate guilds or species groups (i.e., generalists vs. specialists, insects vs. pathogens). This observation may largely reflect anthropogenic effects, including propagule pressure associated with human activities. These results shed new insights into the patterns of forest pest invasions, and it may have significant implications for forest more » restoration and management. « less
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  1. Abstract Context

    Habitat fragmentation is a leading threat to biodiversity, yet the impacts of fragmentation on most taxa, let alone interactions among those taxa, remain largely unknown.


    We studied how three consequences of fragmentation—reduced patch connectivity, altered patch shape, and edge proximity—impact plant-dwelling mite communities and mite-plant-fungus interactions within a large-scale habitat fragmentation experiment.


    We sampled mite communities from the leaves ofQuercus nigra(a plant species that has foliar domatia which harbor fungivorous and predacious mites) near and far from edge within fragments of varying edge-to-area ratio (shape) and connectivity via corridors. We also performed a mite-exclusion experiment across these fragmentation treatments to test the effects of mite presence and fungal hyphal abundance on leaf surfaces.


    Habitat edges influenced the abundance and richness of leaf-dwelling mites; plants closer to the edge had higher mite abundance and species richness. Likewise, hyphal counts were higher on leaves near patch edges. Despite both mite and fungal abundance being higher at patch edges, leaf hyphal counts were not impacted by mite abundance on those leaves. Neither patch shape nor connectivity influenced mite abundance, mite species richness, or the influence of mites on leaf surface fungal abundance.


    Our results suggest that mites and foliar fungi may bemore »independently affected by edge-structured environmental gradients, like temperature, rather than trophic effects. We demonstrate that large-scale habitat fragmentation and particularly edge effects can have impacts on multiple levels of microscopic communities, even in the absence of cascading trophic effects.

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  2. Nonnative pests often cause cascading ecological impacts, leading to detrimental socioeconomic consequences; however, how plant diversity may influence insect and disease invasions remains unclear. High species diversity in host communities may promote pest invasions by providing more niches (i.e., facilitation), but it can also diminish invasion success because low host dominance may make it more difficult for pests to establish (i.e., dilution). Most studies to date have focused on small-scale, experimental, or individual pest/disease species, while large-scale empirical studies, especially in natural ecosystems, are extremely rare. Using subcontinental-level data, we examined the role of tree diversity on pest invasion across the conterminous United States and found that the tree-pest diversity relationships are hump-shaped. Pest diversity increases with tree diversity at low tree diversity (because of facilitation or amplification) and is reduced at higher tree diversity (as a result of dilution). Thus, tree diversity likely regulates forest pest invasion through both facilitation and dilution that operate simultaneously, but their relative strengths vary with overall diversity. Our findings suggest the role of native species diversity in regulating nonnative pest invasions.

  3. Abstract
    Excessive phosphorus (P) applications to croplands can contribute to eutrophication of surface waters through surface runoff and subsurface (leaching) losses. We analyzed leaching losses of total dissolved P (TDP) from no-till corn, hybrid poplar (Populus nigra X P. maximowiczii), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), miscanthus (Miscanthus giganteus), native grasses, and restored prairie, all planted in 2008 on former cropland in Michigan, USA. All crops except corn (13 kg P ha−1 year−1) were grown without P fertilization. Biomass was harvested at the end of each growing season except for poplar. Soil water at 1.2 m depth was sampled weekly to biweekly for TDP determination during March–November 2009–2016 using tension lysimeters. Soil test P (0–25 cm depth) was measured every autumn. Soil water TDP concentrations were usually below levels where eutrophication of surface waters is frequently observed (> 0.02 mg L−1) but often higher than in deep groundwater or nearby streams and lakes. Rates of P leaching, estimated from measured concentrations and modeled drainage, did not differ statistically among cropping systems across years; 7-year cropping system means ranged from 0.035 to 0.072 kg P ha−1 year−1 with large interannual variation. Leached P was positively related to STP, which decreased over the 7 years in all systems. These results indicate that both P-fertilized and unfertilized cropping systems mayMore>>
  4. Forest insects and pathogens have significant impacts on U.S. forests, annually affecting an area nearly three times that of wildfires and timber harvesting combined. However, coupled with these direct effects of forest insects and pathogens are the indirect impacts through influencing forest management practices, such as harvesting. In an earlier study, we surveyed private woodland owners in the northeastern U.S. and 84% of respondents indicated they intended to harvest in at least one of the presented insect invasion scenarios. This harvest response to insects represents a potentially significant shift in the timing, extent, and species selection of harvesting. Here we used the results from the landowner survey, regional forest inventory data, and characteristics of the emerald ash borer (Species: Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire, 1888) invasion to examine the potential for a rapidly spreading invasive insect to alter harvest regimes and affect regional forest conditions. Our analysis suggests that 25% of the woodland parcels in the Connecticut River Watershed in New England may intend to harvest in response to emerald ash borer. If the emerald ash borer continues to spread at its current rate within the region, and therefore the associated management response occurs in the next decade, this could result inmore »an increase in harvest frequencies, from 2.6% year−1 (historically) to 3.7% year−1 through to approximately 2030. If harvest intensities remain at levels found in remeasured Forest Inventory and Analysis plots, this insect-initiated harvesting would result in the removal of 12%–13% of the total aboveground biomass. Eighty-one percent of the removed biomass would be from species other than ash, creating a forest disturbance that is over twice the magnitude than that created by emerald ash borer alone, with the most valuable co-occurring species most vulnerable to biomass loss.« less
  5. Abstract
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