Intensification of livestock production has reduced heterogeneity in vegetative structure in managed grasslands, which has been linked to widespread declines in grassland songbird populations throughout North America. Patch-burn grazing management aims to restore some of that heterogeneity in vegetative structure by burning discrete pasture sections, so that cattle preferentially graze in recently burned areas. Although patch-burn grazing can increase reproductive success of grassland songbirds, we know little about possible interactions with regional variation in predator communities or brood parasite abundance, or annual variation in weather conditions. Using six years of data from two tallgrass prairie sites in eastern Kansas, USA, we tested effects of patch-burn grazing on the rates of brood parasitism, clutch size, nest survival, and fledging success of three common grassland songbirds, Dickcissels (Spiza americana), Eastern Meadowlarks (Sturnella magna), and Grasshopper Sparrows (Ammodramus savannarum), among pastures managed with patch-burn grazing versus pastures that were annually burned and either grazed or ungrazed. Dickcissel nests experienced lower parasitism (72.8 ± 4.6% SE vs. 89.1 ± 2.2%) and Eastern Meadowlarks had higher nest survival (63.2 ± 20.5% vs. 16.5 ± 3.5%) in annually burned and ungrazed pastures than pastures managed with patch-burn grazing. However, average number of host fledglings per nesting attempt did not differ among management treatments for any species. Annual variation in weather conditions had a large effect on vegetation structure, but not on reproductive success. Probability of brood parasitism was consistently high (25.5‒84.7%) and nest survival was consistently low (9.9–16.9%) for all species pooled across treatments, sites, and years, indicating that combined effects of predation, parasitism and drought can offset potential benefits of patch-burn grazing management previously found in tallgrass prairies. Although differences in reproductive success among management treatments were minimal, patch-burn grazing management could still benefit population dynamics of grassland songbirds in areas where nest predators and brood parasites are locally abundant by providing suitable nesting habitat for bird species that require greater amounts of vegetation cover and litter, generally not present in burned pastures.
Pine sawflies (Hymenoptera: Diprionidae) are eruptive herbivores found throughout eastern North America. The Diprionidae family, which contains at least 140 species, constitutes the most persistent threat to conifers as population outbreaks can cause widespread defoliation. Because some species are more prone to large, destructive outbreaks than others, species identification is critical to effective management. Although existing taxonomic keys are primarily based on internal adult morphology, substantial variation among species in larval color traits, geographic location, overwintering strategy, host plant, and egg patterns can be diagnostic at the species level. Here, we focus on the Pinaceae-feeding subfamily Diprioninae, of which there are 25 species in eastern North America. We describe the general biology, life cycle, and host-use ecology of Diprioninae, with an emphasis on the variation among these traits within this subfamily. In addition, we provide tools for species identification, including a taxonomic key that utilizes external diagnostic characteristics. Finally, we discuss available management strategies.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Oxford University Press
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Integrated Pest Management
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Mountains provide uniquely informative systems for examining how biodiversity is distributed and identifying the causes of those patterns. Elevational patterns of species richness are well‐documented for many taxa but comparatively few studies have investigated patterns in multiple dimensions of biodiversity along mountainsides, which can reveal the underlying processes at play. Here, we use trait‐based diversity patterns to determine the role of abiotic filters and competition in the assembly of communities of small mammals across elevation and evaluate the surrogacy of taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic dimensions of diversity.
Great Basin ecoregion, western North America.
Rodents and shrews.
The elevational distributions of 34 species were determined from comprehensive field surveys conducted in three arid, temperate mountain ranges. Elevation–diversity relationships and community assembly processes were inferred from phylogenetic (PD) and functional diversity (FD) patterns of mean pairwise and mean nearest‐neighbor distances while accounting for differences in species richness. FD indices were calculated separately for traits related to either abiotic filtering (β‐niche traits) or biotic interactions (α‐niche traits) to test explicit predictions of the role of each across elevation.
Trait‐based tests of processes indicated that abiotic filtering tied to a strong aridity gradient drives the assembly of both low‐ and high‐elevation communities. Support for competition was not consistent with theoretical expectations under the stress‐dominance hypothesis, species interactions‐abiotic stress hypothesis, or guild assembly rule. Mid‐elevation peaks in species richness contrasted with overall FD and PD, which generally increased with elevation. PD and total FD were correlated on two of three mountains.
The functional diversity of small mammal communities in these arid, temperate mountains is most consistent with abiotic filters, whereas support for competition is weak. Decomposing FD into traits related to separate assembly processes and examining ecoregional variation in diversity were critical for uncovering the generality of mechanisms. Divergent patterns among dimensions revealed species richness to be a poor surrogate for PD and FD across elevation and reflect the effect of biogeographic and evolutionary history. This first analysis of elevational multidimensional diversity gradients for temperate mammals provides a versatile framework for future comparative studies.
Making the most of biodiversity data requires linking observations of biological species from multiple sources both efficiently and accurately (Bisby 2000, Franz et al. 2016). Aggregating occurrence records using taxonomic names and synonyms is computationally efficient but known to experience significant limitations on accuracy when the assumption of one-to-one relationships between names and biological entities breaks down (Remsen 2016, Franz and Sterner 2018). Taxonomic treatments and checklists provide authoritative information about the correct usage of names for species, including operational representations of the meanings of those names in the form of range maps, reference genetic sequences, or diagnostic traits. They increasingly provide taxonomic intelligence in the form of precise description of the semantic relationships between different published names in the literature. Making this authoritative information Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR; Wilkinson et al. 2016) would be a transformative advance for biodiversity data sharing and help drive adoption and novel extensions of existing standards such as the Taxonomic Concept Schema and the OpenBiodiv Ontology (Kennedy et al. 2006, Senderov et al. 2018). We call for the greater, global Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) and taxonomy community to commit to extending and expanding on how FAIR applies to biodiversity data and include practical targets and criteria for the publication and digitization of taxonomic concept representations and alignments in taxonomic treatments, checklists, and backbones. As a motivating case, consider the abundantly sampled North American deer mouse— Peromyscus maniculatus (Wagner 1845)—which was recently split from one continental species into five more narrowly defined forms, so that the name P. maniculatus is now only applied east of the Mississippi River (Bradley et al. 2019, Greenbaum et al. 2019). That single change instantly rendered ambiguous ~7% of North American mammal records in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (n=242,663, downloaded 2021-06-04; GBIF.org 2021) and ⅓ of all National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) small mammal samples (n=10,256, downloaded 2021-06-27). While this type of ambiguity is common in name-based databases when species are split, the example of P. maniculatus is particularly striking for its impact upon biological questions ranging from hantavirus surveillance in North America to studies of climate change impacts upon rodent life-history traits. Of special relevance to NEON sampling is recent evidence suggesting deer mice potentially transmit SARS-CoV-2 (Griffin et al. 2021). Automating the updating of occurrence records in such cases and others will require operational representations of taxonomic concepts—e.g., range maps, reference sequences, and diagnostic traits—that are FAIR in addition to taxonomic concept alignment information (Franz and Peet 2009). Despite steady progress, it remains difficult to find, access, and reuse authoritative information about how to apply taxonomic names even when it is already digitized. It can also be difficult to tell without manual inspection whether similar types of concept representations derived from multiple sources, such as range maps or reference sequences selected from different research articles or checklists, are in fact interoperable for a particular application. The issue is therefore different from important ongoing efforts to digitize trait information in species circumscriptions, for example, and focuses on how already digitized knowledge can best be packaged to inform human experts and artifical intelligence applications (Sterner and Franz 2017). We therefore propose developing community guidelines and criteria for FAIR taxonomic concept representations as "semantic artefacts" of general relevance to linked open data and life sciences research (Le Franc et al. 2020).more » « less
Canopy structural complexity, which describes the degree of heterogeneity in vegetation density, is strongly tied to a number of ecosystem functions, but the community and structural characteristics that give rise to variation in complexity at site to subcontinental scales are poorly defined. We investigated how woody plant taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity, maximum canopy height, and leaf area index (LAI) relate to canopy rugosity, a measure of canopy structural complexity that is correlated with primary production, light capture, and resource‐use efficiency.
Our analysis used 122 plots distributed across 10 ecologically and climatically variable forests spanning a > 1,500 km latitudinal gradient within the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) of the USA.
We used univariate and multivariate modelling to examine relationships between canopy rugosity, and community and structural characteristics hypothesized to drive site and subcontinental variation in complexity.
Spatial variation in canopy rugosity within sites and across the subcontinent was strongly and positively related to maximum canopy height (
r2 = .87 subcontinent‐wide), with the addition of species richness in a multivariate model resolving another 2% of the variation across the subcontinent. Individually, woody plant species richness and phylogenetic diversity ( r2 = .17 to .44, respectively) and LAI ( r2 = .16) were weakly to moderately correlated with canopy rugosity at the subcontinental scale, and inconsistently explained spatial variation in canopy rugosity within sites. Main conclusions
We conclude that maximum canopy height is a substantially stronger predictor of complexity than diversity or LAI within and across forests of eastern North America, suggesting that canopy volume places a primary constraint on the development of structural complexity. Management and land‐use practices that encourage and sustain tall temperate forest canopies may support greater complexity and associated increases in ecosystem functioning.
The spatial overlap of multiple ecological disturbances in close succession has the capacity to alter trajectories of ecosystem recovery. Widespread bark beetle outbreaks and wildfire have affected many forests in western North America in the past two decades in areas of important habitat for native ungulates. Bark beetle outbreaks prior to fire may deplete seed supply of the host species, and differences in fire‐related regeneration strategies among species may shift the species composition and structure of the initial forest trajectory. Subsequent browsing of postfire tree regeneration by large ungulates, such as elk (
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