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  1. Abstract

    While biological invasions have the potential for large negative impacts on local communities and ecological interactions, increasing evidence suggests that species once considered major problems can decline over time. Declines often appear driven by natural enemies, diseases or evolutionary adaptations that selectively reduce populations of naturalised species and their impacts. Using permanent long‐term monitoring locations, we document declines ofAlliaria petiolata(garlic mustard) in eastern North America with distinct local and regional dynamics as a function of patch residence time. Projected site‐specific population growth rates initially indicated expanding populations, but projected population growth rates significantly decreased over time and at the majority of sites fell below 1, indicating declining populations. Negative soil feedback provides a potential mechanism for the reported disappearance of ecological dominance ofA. petiolatain eastern North America.

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  2. Abstract

    When populations colonize new habitats, they are likely to experience novel environmental conditions, and as a consequence may experience strong selection. While selection and the resulting evolutionary responses may have important implications for establishment success in colonizing populations, few studies have estimated selection in such scenarios. Here we examined evidence of selection in recently established plant populations in two prairie restorations in close proximity (<15 km apart) using two approaches: (1) we tested for evidence of past selection on a suite of traits in twoChamaecrista fasciculatapopulations by comparing the restored populations to each other and their shared source population in common gardens to quantify evolutionary responses and (2) we measured selection in the field. We found evidence of past selection on flowering time, specific leaf area, and root nodule production in one of the populations, but detected contemporary selection on only one trait (plant height). Our findings demonstrate that while selection can occur in colonizing populations, resulting in significant trait differences between restored populations in fewer than six generations, evolutionary responses differ across even nearby populations sown with the same source population. Because contemporary measures of selection differed from evolutionary responses to past selection, our findings also suggest that selection likely differs over the early stages of succession that characterize young prairies.

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  3. Abstract

    Ecosystems across the United States are changing in complex and unpredictable ways and analysis of these changes requires coordinated, long‐term research. This paper is a product of a synthesis effort of the U.S. National Science Foundation funded Long‐Term Ecological Research (LTER) network addressing the LTER core research area of “populations and communities.” This analysis revealed that each LTER site had at least one compelling “story” about what their site would look like in 50–100 yr. As the stories were prepared, themes emerged, and the stories were group into papers along five themes: state change, connectivity, resilience, time lags, and cascading effects. This paper addresses the cascading effects theme and includes stories from the Bonanza Creek (boreal), Kellogg Biological Station (agricultural and freshwater), Palmer (Antarctica), and Harvard Forest (temperate forest) LTER sites. We define cascading effects very broadly to include a wide array of unforeseen chains of events that result from a variety of actions or changes in a system. While climate change is having important direct effects on boreal forests, indirect effects mediated by fire activity—severity, size, and return interval—have large cascading effects over the long term. In northeastern temperate forests, legacies of human management and disturbance affect the composition of current forests, which creates a cascade of effects that interact with the climate‐facilitated invasion of an exotic pest. In Antarctica, declining sea ice creates a cascade of effects including declines in Adèlie and increases in Gentoo penguins, changes in phytoplankton, and consequent changes in zooplankton populations. An invasion of an exotic species of lady beetle is likely to have important future effects on pest control and conservation of native species in agricultural landscapes. New studies of zebra mussels, a well‐studied invader, have established links between climate, the heat tolerance of the mussels, and harmful algal blooms. Collectively, these stories highlight the need for long‐term studies to sort out the complexities of different types of ecological cascades. The diversity of sites within the LTER network facilitates the emergence of overarching concepts about trophic interactions as an important driver of ecosystem structure, function, services, and futures.

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  4. Summary

    Microbial communities will experience novel climates in the future. Dispersal is now recognized as a driver of microbial diversity and function, but our understanding of how dispersal influences responses to novel climates is limited. We experimentally tested how the exclusion of aerially dispersed fungi and bacteria altered the compositional and functional response of soil microbial communities to drought. We manipulated dispersal and drought by collecting aerially deposited microbes after precipitation events and subjecting soil mesocosms to either filter‐sterilized rain (no dispersal) or unfiltered rain (dispersal) and to either drought (25% ambient) or ambient rainfall for 6 months. We characterized community composition by sequencing 16S and ITS rRNA regions and function using community‐level physiological profiles. Treatments without dispersal had lower soil microbial biomass and metabolic diversity but higher bacterial and fungal species richness. Dispersal also altered soil community response to drought; drought had a stronger effect on bacterial (but not fungal) community composition, and induced greater functional loss, when dispersal was present. Surprisingly, neither immigrants nor drought‐tolerant taxa had higher abundance in dispersal treatments. We show experimentally that natural aerial dispersal rate alters soil microbial responses to disturbance. Changes in dispersal rates should be considered when predicting microbial responses to climate change.

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  5. Abstract

    It is important to understand how point measurements across spatially heterogeneous ecosystems are scaled to represent these systems. Stream biogeochemistry presents an illustrative example because water quality concerns within stream networks and recipient water bodies motivate heterogeneous watershed studies. Measurements of the stream water‐groundwater (SW‐GW) interface (i.e., the shallow stream subsurface) are well‐documented for point‐scale sampling density measurements (i.e., cm2–m2features), but poorly characterized for network‐scale sampling density measurements (i.e., km2; stream reaches and networks). Sampling the SW‐GW interface is more time and labor intensive than surface water sampling, meaning sample point selection must be made with care for network‐scale analyses. In this study, we endeavor to determine which of two common spatial sampling schemes is appropriate for characterizing SW‐GW interface biogeochemistry across a third‐order stream network, focusing on dissolved organic carbon. The first scheme, called Local Sampling, focuses on characterizing small‐scale (< 10 m2) variability produced by the local physical and biogeochemical heterogeneity, with fewer points across the stream network. The second scheme, called Longitudinal Sampling, has approximately the same number of measurements distributed over many more points across the stream network with less local variability characterization. This comparison reveals that selection of a Local Sampling versus a Longitudinal Sampling scheme influences the biogeochemical pattern interpretation at the stream network scale. Additionally, this study found that increasing observation efforts at the local scale added limited information for reach‐ to network‐scale biogeochemical patterns, suggesting that emphasis should be placed on characterizing variability across broader spatial scales with the Longitudinal Sampling approach.

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  6. Highlights

    We developed a new approach to calibration for 2‐D soil zymography.

    The approach accounted for spatial nonuniformity of soil zymograms.

    Standard calibration resulted in systematic underestimation of enzyme activity.

    Soil zymography requires pixel‐based calibration with nonuniformly saturated membranes.

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  7. Abstract

    Groundwater irrigation of cropland is expanding worldwide with poorly known implications for climate change. This study compares experimental measurements of the net global warming impact of a rainfed versus a groundwater‐irrigated corn (maize)–soybean–wheat, no‐till cropping system in the Midwest US, the region that produces the majority of U.S. corn and soybean. Irrigation significantly increased soil organic carbon (C) storage in the upper 25 cm, but not by enough to make up for the CO2‐equivalent (CO2e) costs of fossil fuel power, soil emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O), and degassing of supersaturated CO2and N2O from the groundwater. A rainfed reference system had a net mitigating effect of −13.9 (±31) g CO2e m−2 year−1, but with irrigation at an average rate for the region, the irrigated system contributed to global warming with net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 27.1 (±32) g CO2e m−2 year−1. Compared to the rainfed system, the irrigated system had 45% more GHG emissions and 7% more C sequestration. The irrigation‐associated increase in soil N2O and fossil fuel emissions contributed 18% and 9%, respectively, to the system's total emissions in an average irrigation year. Groundwater degassing of CO2and N2O are missing components of previous assessments of the GHG cost of groundwater irrigation; together they were 4% of the irrigated system's total emissions. The irrigated system's net impact normalized by crop yield (GHG intensity) was +0.04 (±0.006) kg CO2e kg−1yield, close to that of the rainfed system, which was −0.03 (±0.002) kg CO2e kg−1yield. Thus, the increased crop yield resulting from irrigation can ameliorate overall GHG emissions if intensification by irrigation prevents land conversion emissions elsewhere, although the expansion of irrigation risks depletion of local water resources.

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  8. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Excessive phosphorus (P) applications to croplands can contribute to eutrophication of surface waters through surface runoff and subsurface (leaching) losses. We analyzed leaching losses of total dissolved P (TDP) from no-till corn, hybrid poplar ( Populus nigra X P. maximowiczii ), switchgrass ( Panicum virgatum ), miscanthus ( Miscanthus giganteus ), native grasses, and restored prairie, all planted in 2008 on former cropland in Michigan, USA. All crops except corn (13 kg P ha −1  year −1 ) were grown without P fertilization. Biomass was harvested at the end of each growing season except for poplar. Soil water at 1.2 m depth was sampled weekly to biweekly for TDP determination during March–November 2009–2016 using tension lysimeters. Soil test P (0–25 cm depth) was measured every autumn. Soil water TDP concentrations were usually below levels where eutrophication of surface waters is frequently observed (> 0.02 mg L −1 ) but often higher than in deep groundwater or nearby streams and lakes. Rates of P leaching, estimated from measured concentrations and modeled drainage, did not differ statistically among cropping systems across years; 7-year cropping system means ranged from 0.035 to 0.072 kg P ha −1  year −1 with large interannual variation. Leached P was positively related to STP, which decreased over the 7 years in all systems. These results indicate that both P-fertilized and unfertilized cropping systems may leach legacy P from past cropland management. 
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