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  1. 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
  2. Abstract We introduce the FunAndes database, a compilation of functional trait data for the Andean flora spanning six countries. FunAndes contains data on 24 traits across 2,694 taxa, for a total of 105,466 entries. The database features plant-morphological attributes including growth form, and leaf, stem, and wood traits measured at the species or individual level, together with geographic metadata (i.e., coordinates and elevation). FunAndes follows the field names, trait descriptions and units of measurement of the TRY database. It is currently available in open access in the FIGSHARE data repository, and will be part of TRY’s next release. Open access trait data from Andean plants will contribute to ecological research in the region, the most species rich terrestrial biodiversity hotspot. 
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  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  4. null (Ed.)
    Abstract It is largely unknown how South America’s Andean forests affect the global carbon cycle, and thus regulate climate change. Here, we measure aboveground carbon dynamics over the past two decades in 119 monitoring plots spanning a range of >3000 m elevation across the subtropical and tropical Andes. Our results show that Andean forests act as strong sinks for aboveground carbon (0.67 ± 0.08 Mg C ha −1 y −1 ) and have a high potential to serve as future carbon refuges. Aboveground carbon dynamics of Andean forests are driven by abiotic and biotic factors, such as climate and size-dependent mortality of trees. The increasing aboveground carbon stocks offset the estimated C emissions due to deforestation between 2003 and 2014, resulting in a net total uptake of 0.027 Pg C y −1 . Reducing deforestation will increase Andean aboveground carbon stocks, facilitate upward species migrations, and allow for recovery of biomass losses due to climate change. 
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  5. Blonder, Benjamin (Ed.)
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  6. Abstract

    Recent studies showing bias in the measurement of density dependence have the potential to sow confusion in the field of ecology. We provide clarity by elucidating key conceptual and statistical errors with null‐model approaches used in recent studies of density dependence. Importantly, we show that neither a relabeling null model nor a more biologically appropriate null model reproduces differences in density‐dependent recruitment between tropical and temperate forests, indicating that the latitudinal gradient in negative density dependence is not an artifact of statistical bias. We also suggest a path forward that combines observational comparisons of density dependence in multiple fitness components across localities with mechanistic and geographically replicated experiments.

     
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  7. Tree fecundity and recruitment have not yet been quantified at scales needed to anticipate biogeographic shifts in response to climate change. By separating their responses, this study shows coherence across species and communities, offering the strongest support to date that migration is in progress with regional limitations on rates. The southeastern continent emerges as a fecundity hotspot, but it is situated south of population centers where high seed production could contribute to poleward population spread. By contrast, seedling success is highest in the West and North, serving to partially offset limited seed production near poleward frontiers. The evidence of fecundity and recruitment control on tree migration can inform conservation planning for the expected long-term disequilibrium between climate and forest distribution. 
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  8. Abstract

    Understanding how abiotic disturbance and biotic interactions determine pollinator and flowering‐plant diversity is critically important given global climate change and widespread pollinator declines. To predict responses of pollinators and flowering‐plant communities to changes in wildfire disturbance, a mechanistic understanding of how these two trophic levels respond to wildfire severity is needed.

    We compared site‐to‐site variation in community composition (β‐diversity), species richness and abundances of pollinators and flowering plants among landscapes with no recent wildfire (unburned), mixed‐severity wildfire and high‐severity wildfire in three sites across the Northern Rockies Ecoregion, USA. We used variation partitioning to assess the relative contributions of wildfire, other abiotic variables (climate, soils and topography) and biotic associations among plant and pollinator composition to community assembly of both trophic levels.

    Wildfire disturbance generally increased species richness and total abundance, but decreasedβ‐diversity, of both pollinators and flowering plants. However, reductions inβ‐diversity from wildfire appeared to result from increased abundances following fires, resulting in higher local species richness of pollinators and flowers in burned than unburned landscapes. After accounting for differences in abundance, standardized effect sizes ofβ‐diversity were higher in burned than unburned landscapes, suggesting that wildfire enhances non‐random assortment of pollinator and flowering‐plant species among local communities.

    Wildfire disturbance mediated the relative importance of mutualistic associations toβ‐diversity of pollinators and flowering plants. The influence of pollinatorβ‐diversity on flowering‐plantβ‐diversity increased with wildfire severity, whereas the influence of flowering‐plantβ‐diversity on pollinatorβ‐diversity was greater in mixed‐severity than high‐severity wildfire or unburned landscapes. Moreover, biotic associations among pollinator and plant species explained substantial variation inβ‐diversity of both trophic levels beyond what could be explained by wildfire and all other abiotic and spatial factors combined.

    Synthesis. Wildfire disturbance and plant–pollinator interactions both strongly influenced the assembly of pollinator and flowering‐plant communities at local and regional scales. However, biotic interactions were generally more important drivers of community assembly in disturbed than undisturbed landscapes. As wildfire regimes continue to change globally, predicting its effects on biodiversity will require a deeper understanding of the ecological processes that mediate biotic interactions among linked trophic levels.

     
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  9. Abstract The relationships that control seed production in trees are fundamental to understanding the evolution of forest species and their capacity to recover from increasing losses to drought, fire, and harvest. A synthesis of fecundity data from 714 species worldwide allowed us to examine hypotheses that are central to quantifying reproduction, a foundation for assessing fitness in forest trees. Four major findings emerged. First, seed production is not constrained by a strict trade-off between seed size and numbers. Instead, seed numbers vary over ten orders of magnitude, with species that invest in large seeds producing more seeds than expected from the 1:1 trade-off. Second, gymnosperms have lower seed production than angiosperms, potentially due to their extra investments in protective woody cones. Third, nutrient-demanding species, indicated by high foliar phosphorus concentrations, have low seed production. Finally, sensitivity of individual species to soil fertility varies widely, limiting the response of community seed production to fertility gradients. In combination, these findings can inform models of forest response that need to incorporate reproductive potential. 
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