skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "McMahon, Sean M."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    Numerous studies have shown reduced performance in plants that are surrounded by neighbours of the same species1,2, a phenomenon known as conspecific negative density dependence (CNDD)3. A long-held ecological hypothesis posits that CNDD is more pronounced in tropical than in temperate forests4,5, which increases community stabilization, species coexistence and the diversity of local tree species6,7. Previous analyses supporting such a latitudinal gradient in CNDD8,9have suffered from methodological limitations related to the use of static data10–12. Here we present a comprehensive assessment of latitudinal CNDD patterns using dynamic mortality data to estimate species-site-specific CNDD across 23 sites. Averaged across species, we found that stabilizing CNDD was present at all except one site, but that average stabilizing CNDD was not stronger toward the tropics. However, in tropical tree communities, rare and intermediate abundant species experienced stronger stabilizing CNDD than did common species. This pattern was absent in temperate forests, which suggests that CNDD influences species abundances more strongly in tropical forests than it does in temperate ones13. We also found that interspecific variation in CNDD, which might attenuate its stabilizing effect on species diversity14,15, was high but not significantly different across latitudes. Although the consequences of these patterns for latitudinal diversity gradients are difficult to evaluate, we speculate that a more effective regulation of population abundances could translate into greater stabilization of tropical tree communities and thus contribute to the high local diversity of tropical forests.

    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 21, 2025

    Lianas, climbing woody plants, influence the structure and function of tropical forests. Climbing traits have evolved multiple times, including ancestral groups such as gymnosperms and pteridophytes, but the genetic basis of the liana strategy is largely unknown. Here, we use a comparative transcriptomic approach for 47 tropical plant species, including ten lianas of diverse taxonomic origins, to identify genes that are consistently expressed or downregulated only in lianas. Our comparative analysis of full-length transcripts enabled the identification of a core interactomic network common to lianas. Sets of transcripts identified from our analysis reveal features related to functional traits pertinent to leaf economics spectrum in lianas, include upregulation of genes controlling epidermal cuticular properties, cell wall remodeling, carbon concentrating mechanism, cell cycle progression, DNA repair and a large suit of downregulated transcription factors and enzymes involved in ABA-mediated stress response as well as lignin and suberin synthesis. All together, these genes are known to be significant in shaping plant morphologies through responses such as gravitropism, phyllotaxy and shade avoidance.

    more » « less
  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.

    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  4. null (Ed.)

    Maples (the genusAcer) represent important and beloved forest, urban, and ornamental trees distributed throughout the Northern hemisphere. They exist in a diverse array of native ranges and distributions, across spectrums of tolerance or decline, and have varying levels of susceptibility to biotic and abiotic stress. AmongAcerspecies, several stand out in their importance to economic interest. Here we report the first two chromosome‐scale genomes for North American species,Acer negundoandAcer saccharum. Both assembled genomes contain scaffolds corresponding to 13 chromosomes, withA. negundoat a length of 442 Mb, an N50 of 32 Mb, and 30 491 genes, andA. saccharumat a length of 626 Mb, an N50 of 46 Mb, and 40 074 genes. No recent whole genome duplications were detected, thoughA. saccharumhas local gene duplication and more recent bursts of transposable elements, as well as a large‐scale translocation between two chromosomes. Genomic comparison revealed thatA. negundohas a smaller genome with recent gene family evolution that is predominantly contracted and expansions that are potentially related to invasive tendencies and tolerance to abiotic stress. Examination of RNA sequencing data obtained fromA. saccharumgiven long‐term aluminum and calcium soil treatments at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest provided insights into genes involved in the aluminum stress response at the systemic level, as well as signs of compromised processes upon calcium deficiency, a condition contributing to maple decline.

    more » « less