skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Spasojevic, Marko J."

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

    Bacterial and fungal root endophytes can impact the fitness of their host plants, but the relative importance of drivers for root endophyte communities is not well known. Host plant species, the composition and density of the surrounding plants, space, and abiotic drivers could significantly affect bacterial and fungal root endophyte communities. We investigated their influence in endophyte communities of alpine plants across a harsh high mountain landscape using high-throughput sequencing. There was less compositional overlap between fungal than bacterial root endophyte communities, with four ‘cosmopolitan’ bacterial OTUs found in every root sampled, but no fungal OTUs found across all samples. We found that host plant species, which included nine species from three families, explained the greatest variation in root endophyte composition for both bacterial and fungal communities. We detected similar levels of variation explained by plant neighborhood, space, and abiotic drivers on both communities, but the plant neighborhood explained less variation in fungal endophytes than expected. Overall, these findings suggest a more cosmopolitan distribution of bacterial OTUs compared to fungal OTUs, a structuring role of the plant host species for both communities, and largely similar effects of the plant neighborhood, abiotic drivers, and space on both communities.

    more » « less
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 5, 2023
  3. While altered precipitation regimes can greatly impact biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, we lack a comprehensive view of how these impacts are mediated by changes to the seasonality of precipitation (i.e., whether it rains more/less in one season relative to another). Over 2 years, we examined how altered seasonal precipitation influenced annual plant biomass and species richness, Simpson’s diversity, and community composition of annual plant communities in a dryland ecosystem that receives both winter and summer rainfall and has distinct annual plant communities in each season. Using a rainfall exclusion, collection, and distribution system, we excluded precipitation and added water during each season individually and compared responses to control plots which received ambient summer and winter precipitation. In control plots, we found five times greater annual plant biomass, twice as many species, and higher diversity in winter relative to summer. Adding water increased annual plant biomass in summer only, did not change richness or diversity in either summer or winter, and modestly shifted community composition. Excluding precipitation in either season reduced annual plant biomass, richness, and Simpson’s diversity. However, in the second winter season, biomass was higher in the plots where precipitation was excluded in the previous summer seasons suggesting that reduced productivity in the summer may facilitate biomass in the winter. Our results suggest that increased precipitation in summer may have stronger short-term impacts on annual plant biodiversity and ecosystem function relative to increased winter precipitation. In contrast, decreasing precipitation may have ubiquitous negative effects on annual plants across both summer and winter but may lead to increased biomass in the following off-seasons. These patterns suggest that annual plant communities exhibit asymmetries in their community and ecosystem responses to altered seasonal precipitation and that considering the seasonality of precipitation is important for predicting the effects of altered precipitation regimes. 
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    Climate refugia, where local populations of species can persist through periods of unfavorable regional climate, play a key role in the maintenance of regional biodiversity during times of environmental change. However, the ability of refugia to buffer biodiversity change may be mediated by the landscape context of refugial habitats. Here, we examined how plant communities restricted to refugial sky islands of alpine tundra in the Colorado Rockies are changing in response to rapid climate change in the region (increased temperature, declining snowpack, and earlier snow melt-out) and if these biodiversity changes are mediated by the area or geographic isolation of the sky island. We resampled plant communities in 153 plots at seven sky islands distributed across the Colorado Rockies at two time points separated by 12 years (2007/2008–2019/2020) and found changes in taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional diversity over time. Specifically, we found an increase in species richness, a trend toward increased phylogenetic diversity, a shift toward leaf traits associated with the stress-tolerant end of leaf economics spectrum (e.g., lower specific leaf area, higher leaf dry matter content), and a decrease in the functional dispersion of specific leaf area. Importantly, these changes were partially mediated by refugial area but not by geographic isolation, suggesting that dispersal from nearby areas of tundra does not play a strong role in mediating these changes, while site characteristics associated with a larger area (e.g., environmental heterogeneity, larger community size) may be relatively more important. Taken together, these results suggest that considering the landscape context (area and geographic isolation) of refugia may be critical for prioritizing the conservation of specific refugial sites that provide the most conservation value. 
    more » « less
  5. null (Ed.)
  6. Abstract

    Climate change is increasing the variability of precipitation, altering the frequency of soil drying‐wetting events and the distribution of seasonal precipitation. These changes in precipitation can alter nitrogen (N) cycling and stimulate nitric oxide (NO) emissions (an air pollutant at high concentrations), which may vary according to legacies of past precipitation and represent a pathway for ecosystem N loss. To identify whether precipitation legacies affect NO emissions, we excluded or added precipitation during the winter growing season in a Pinyon–Juniper dryland and measured in situ NO emissions following experimental wetting. We found that the legacy of both excluding and adding winter precipitation increased NO emissions early in the following summer; cumulative NO emissions from the winter precipitation exclusion plots (2750 ± 972 μg N‐NO m−2) and winter water addition plots (2449 ± 408 μg N‐NO m−2) were higher than control plots (1506 ± 397 μg N‐NO m−2). The increase in NO emissions with previous precipitation exclusion was associated with inorganic N accumulation, while the increase in NO emissions with previous water addition was associated with an upward trend in microbial biomass. Precipitation legacies can accelerate soil NO emissions and may amplify ecosystem N loss in response to more variable precipitation.

    more » « less
  7. Abstract

    A major goal of community ecology is understanding the processes responsible for generating biodiversity patterns along spatial and environmental gradients. In stream ecosystems, system‐specific conceptual frameworks have dominated research describing biodiversity change along longitudinal gradients of river networks. However, support for these conceptual frameworks has been mixed, mainly applicable to specific stream ecosystems and biomes, and these frameworks have placed less emphasis on general mechanisms driving biodiversity patterns. Rethinking biodiversity patterns and processes in stream ecosystems with a focus on the overarching mechanisms common across ecosystems will provide a more holistic understanding of why biodiversity patterns vary along river networks. In this study, we apply the theory of ecological communities (TEC) conceptual framework to stream ecosystems to focus explicitly on the core ecological processes structuring communities: dispersal, speciation, niche selection, and ecological drift. Using a unique case study from high‐elevation networks of connected lakes and streams, we sampled stream invertebrate communities in the Sierra Nevada, California, USA to test established stream ecology frameworks and compared them with the TEC framework. Local diversity increased and β‐diversity decreased moving downstream from the headwaters, consistent with the river continuum concept and the small but mighty framework of mountain stream biodiversity. Local diversity was also structured by distance below upstream lakes, where diversity increased with distance below upstream lakes, in support of the serial discontinuity concept. Despite some support for the biodiversity patterns predicted from the stream ecology frameworks, no single framework was fully supported, suggesting “context dependence.” By framing our results under the TEC, we found that species diversity was structured by niche selection, where local diversity was highest in environmentally favorable sites. Local diversity was also highest in sites with small community sizes, countering the predicted effects of ecological drift. Moreover, higher β‐diversity in the headwaters was influenced by dispersal and niche selection, where environmentally harsh and spatially isolated sites exhibit higher community variation. Taken together our results suggest that combining system‐specific ecological frameworks with the TEC provides a powerful approach for inferring the mechanisms driving biodiversity patterns and provides a path toward generalization of biodiversity research across ecosystems.

    more » « less
  8. Climate strongly shapes plant diversity over large spatial scales, with relatively warm and wet (benign, productive) regions supporting greater numbers of species. Unresolved aspects of this relationship include what causes it, whether it permeates to community diversity at smaller spatial scales, whether it is accompanied by patterns in functional and phylogenetic diversity as some hypotheses predict, and whether it is paralleled by climate-driven changes in diversity over time. Here, studies of Californian plants are reviewed and new analyses are conducted to synthesize climate–diversity relationships in space and time. Across spatial scales and organizational levels, plant diversity is maximized in more productive (wetter) climates, and these consistent spatial relationships are mirrored in losses of taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic diversity over time during a recent climatic drying trend. These results support the tolerance and climatic niche conservatism hypotheses for climate–diversity relationships, and suggest there is some predictability to future changes in diversity in water-limited climates.

    more » « less
  9. Abstract Background

    The central thesis of plant ecology is that climate determines the global distribution of vegetation. Within a vegetation type, however, finer‐scale environmental features, such as the physical and chemical properties of soil (edaphic variation), control patterns of plant diversity and distributions.


    Here, we review the literature to provide a mechanistic framework for the edaphic control of plant diversity. First, we review three examples where soils have known, prevalent effects on plant diversity: during soil formation, on unusual soils and in regions with high edaphic heterogeneity. Second, we synthesize how edaphic factors mediate the relative importance of the four key processes of community assembly (speciation, ecological drift, dispersal and niche selection). Third, we review the potential effects of climate change in edaphically heterogeneous regions. Finally, we outline key knowledge gaps for understanding the edaphic control of plant diversity. In our review, we emphasize floras of unusual edaphic areas (i.e., serpentine, limestone, granite), because these areas contribute disproportionately to the biodiversity hotspots of the world.


    Terrestrial plants.




    Edaphic variation is a key driver of biodiversity patterns and influences the relative importance of speciation, dispersal, ecological drift, niche selection and interactions among these processes. Research is still needed to gain a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms by which edaphic variation influences these community assembly processes, and unusual soils provide excellent natural systems for such tests. Furthermore, the incorporation of edaphic variation into climate change research will help to increase the predictive power of species distribution models, identify potential climate refugia and identify species with adaptations that buffer them from climate change.

    more » « less
  10. Snow is an important driver of ecosystem processes in cold biomes. Snow accumulation determines ground temperature, light conditions, and moisture availability during winter. It also affects the growing season’s start and end, and plant access to moisture and nutrients. Here, we review the current knowledge of the snow cover’s role for vegetation, plant-animal interactions, permafrost conditions, microbial processes, and biogeochemical cycling. We also compare studies of natural snow gradients with snow experimental manipulation studies to assess time scale difference of these approaches. The number of tundra snow studies has increased considerably in recent years, yet we still lack a comprehensive overview of how altered snow conditions will affect these ecosystems. Specifically, we found a mismatch in the timing of snowmelt when comparing studies of natural snow gradients with snow manipulations. We found that snowmelt timing achieved by snow addition and snow removal manipulations (average 7.9 days advance and 5.5 days delay, respectively) were substantially lower than the temporal variation over natural spatial gradients within a given year (mean range 56 days) or among years (mean range 32 days). Differences between snow study approaches need to be accounted for when projecting snow dynamics and their impact on ecosystems in future climates. 
    more » « less