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  1. DNA barcode data hosted in the Data Portal of the Barcode of Life Data Systems. Records consist of specimen metadata, specimen images, and sequence data. 
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  2. Do hotspots of plant biodiversity translate into hotspots in the abundance and diversity of large mammalian herbivores? A common expectation in community ecology is that the diversity of plants and animals should be positively correlated in space, as with the latitudinal diversity gradient and the geographic mosaic of biodiversity. Whether this pattern ‘scales down’ to landscape-level linkages between the diversity of plants or the activities of highly mobile megafauna has received less attention. We investigated spatial associations between plants and large herbivores by integrating data from a plant-DNA-barcode phylogeny, camera traps, and a comprehensive map of woody plants across the 1.2-km2 Mpala Forest Global Earth Observatory (ForestGEO) plot, Kenya. Plant and large herbivore communities were strongly associated with an underlying soil gradient, but the richness of large herbivore species was negatively correlated with the richness of woody plants. Results suggest thickets and steep terrain create associational refuges for plants by deterring megaherbivores from browsing on otherwise palatable species. Recent work using dietary DNA metabarcoding has demonstrated that large herbivores often directly control populations of the plant species they prefer to eat, and our results reinforce the important role of megaherbivores in shaping vegetation across landscapes. 
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  3. Abstract

    Current understanding of the distribution of vegetation and large mammalian herbivores (LMH) is based on a combination of biogeographic studies and highly controlled field experiments, but a more complete understanding of these patterns requires study of their natural co‐occurrence patterns at intermediate spatial scales. The study was conducted in the 120‐ha Mpala Forest Global Earth Observatory (ForestGEO) plot, Kenya. We examined differences in herbaceous plant communities and habitat use by LMH among three topographic habitats with distinct soil types, namely steep slopes, valley and plateau. Each pair of habitats differed in plant and animal composition. The steep slopes and plateau respectively had ≥1‐fold higher percentage herbaceous cover than the valley, whereas the steep slopes and valley had >1.5‐fold greater grass species richness and diversity than the plateau. The activity of LMH was ≥1.7‐fold higher in the valley than the steep slopes and plateau, reflecting a positive relationship between LMH activity index and richness and diversity of grass species. Results indicate that fine‐scale variation in topography and soil are associated with both the distribution of herbaceous vegetation and LMH, suggesting a need to account for local habitat characteristics when examining the distributions of plants, animals, and plant‐herbivore interactions in natural systems.

     
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  4. null (Ed.)
  5. 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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  6. 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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