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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2025
  2. Adler, Frederick (Ed.)
  3. Abstract

    One mechanism proposed to explain high species diversity in tropical systems is strong negative conspecific density dependence (CDD), which reduces recruitment of juveniles in proximity to conspecific adult plants. Although evidence shows that plant-specific soil pathogens can drive negative CDD, trees also form key mutualisms with mycorrhizal fungi, which may counteract these effects. Across 43 large-scale forest plots worldwide, we tested whether ectomycorrhizal tree species exhibit weaker negative CDD than arbuscular mycorrhizal tree species. We further tested for conmycorrhizal density dependence (CMDD) to test for benefit from shared mutualists. We found that the strength of CDD varies systematically with mycorrhizal type, with ectomycorrhizal tree species exhibiting higher sapling densities with increasing adult densities than arbuscular mycorrhizal tree species. Moreover, we found evidence of positive CMDD for tree species of both mycorrhizal types. Collectively, these findings indicate that mycorrhizal interactions likely play a foundational role in global forest diversity patterns and structure.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  4. Abstract

    Plant succession is regulated by a combination of abiotic and biotic factors. However, previous studies of biotic drivers have focused overwhelmingly on direct pairwise species interactions, ignoring the likely prevalent higher-order interactions (HOIs) in natural systems. Climate also plays a significant role in determining successional dynamics with both direct effects and indirect effects via altered biotic interactions. Here we explored the relative effects of direct species interactions, HOIs, climate, and their interactions on population dynamics of herbaceous plants during 50 years of post-agricultural secondary succession and tested whether the inclusion of HOIs and climate data improved forecasts of population dynamics. Direct intraspecific interactions were competitive and prevalent across the 90 herbaceous plants examined, while direct interspecific interactions only affected populations of 29% species. HOIs, mainly arose from intraspecific HOIs of conspecifics, were mostly positive and thus largely mitigated the competitive effects of direct intraspecific interactions. Species with lower peak cover experienced stronger intraspecific competition and positive intraspecific HOIs of conspecifics. Direct interspecific interactions had neutral or facilitative effects on species with lower peak cover, and tended to have competitive effects on species with higher peak cover. Climate simultaneously influenced population dynamics both directly and indirectly via altered species interactions. Forecast performance was significantly improved with the inclusion of HOIs or climate for about half and one-third of species, respectively. Our study emphasizes the importance of HOIs, which largely mitigated direct competitive effects on population dynamics of herbaceous plants during succession. Teasing apart HOIs from direct species interactions substantially refined our understanding of successional dynamics of herbaceous plants and improved the accuracy of forecasting population dynamics during succession in a changing world.

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  5. Abstract

    Enhancing tree diversity may be important to fostering resilience to drought‐related climate extremes. So far, little attention has been given to whether tree diversity can increase the survival of trees and reduce its variability in young forest plantations.

    We conducted an analysis of seedling and sapling survival from 34 globally distributed tree diversity experiments (363,167 trees, 168 species, 3744 plots, 7 biomes) to answer two questions: (1) Do drought and tree diversity alter the mean and variability in plot‐level tree survival, with higher and less variable survival as diversity increases? and (2) Do species that survive poorly in monocultures survive better in mixtures and do specific functional traits explain monoculture survival?

    Tree species richness reduced variability in plot‐level survival, while functional diversity (Rao's Q entropy) increased survival and also reduced its variability. Importantly, the reduction in survival variability became stronger as drought severity increased. We found that species with low survival in monocultures survived comparatively better in mixtures when under drought. Species survival in monoculture was positively associated with drought resistance (indicated by hydraulic traits such as turgor loss point), plant height and conservative resource‐acquisition traits (e.g. low leaf nitrogen concentration and small leaf size).

    Synthesis.The findings highlight: (1) The effectiveness of tree diversity for decreasing the variability in seedling and sapling survival under drought; and (2) the importance of drought resistance and associated traits to explain altered tree species survival in response to tree diversity and drought. From an ecological perspective, we recommend mixing be considered to stabilize tree survival, particularly when functionally diverse forests with drought‐resistant species also promote high survival of drought‐sensitive species.

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  6. Pascual, Mercedes (Ed.)
    When Darwin visited the Galapagos archipelago, he observed that, in spite of the islands’ physical similarity, members of species that had dispersed to them recently were beginning to diverge from each other. He postulated that these divergences must have resulted primarily from interactions with sets of other species that had also diverged across these otherwise similar islands. By extrapolation, if Darwin is correct, such complex interactions must be driving species divergences across all ecosystems. However, many current general ecological theories that predict observed distributions of species in ecosystems do not take the details of between-species interactions into account. Here we quantify, in sixteen forest diversity plots (FDPs) worldwide, highly significant negative density-dependent (NDD) components of both conspecific and heterospecific between-tree interactions that affect the trees’ distributions, growth, recruitment, and mortality. These interactions decline smoothly in significance with increasing physical distance between trees. They also tend to decline in significance with increasing phylogenetic distance between the trees, but each FDP exhibits its own unique pattern of exceptions to this overall decline. Unique patterns of between-species interactions in ecosystems, of the general type that Darwin postulated, are likely to have contributed to the exceptions. We test the power of our null-model method by using a deliberately modified data set, and show that the method easily identifies the modifications. We examine how some of the exceptions, at the Wind River (USA) FDP, reveal new details of a known allelopathic effect of one of the Wind River gymnosperm species. Finally, we explore how similar analyses can be used to investigate details of many types of interactions in these complex ecosystems, and can provide clues to the evolution of these interactions. 
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  7. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) and ectomycorrhizal (EcM) associations are critical for host-tree performance. However, how mycorrhizal associations correlate with the latitudinal tree beta-diversity remains untested. Using a global dataset of 45 forest plots representing 2,804,270 trees across 3840 species, we test how AM and EcM trees contribute to total beta-diversity and its components (turnover and nestedness) of all trees. We find AM rather than EcM trees predominantly contribute to decreasing total beta-diversity and turnover and increasing nestedness with increasing latitude, probably because wide distributions of EcM trees do not generate strong compositional differences among localities. Environmental variables, especially temperature and precipitation, are strongly correlated with beta-diversity patterns for both AM trees and all trees rather than EcM trees. Results support our hypotheses that latitudinal beta-diversity patterns and environmental effects on these patterns are highly dependent on mycorrhizal types. Our findings highlight the importance of AM-dominated forests for conserving global forest biodiversity. 
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