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  1. Abstract

    Adaptive capacity can present challenges for modelling as it encompasses multiple ecological and evolutionary processes such as natural selection, genetic drift, gene flow and phenotypic plasticity. Spatially explicit, individual‐based models provide an outlet for simulating these complex interacting eco‐evolutionary processes. We expanded the existing Cost‐Distance Meta‐POPulation (CDMetaPOP) framework with inducible plasticity modelled as a habitat selection behaviour, using temperature or habitat quality variables, with a genetically based selection threshold conditioned on past individual experience. To demonstrate expected results in the new module, we simulated hypothetical populations and then evaluated model performance in populations of redband trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri) across three watersheds where temperatures induce physiological stress in parts of the stream network. We ran simulations using projected warming stream temperature data under four scenarios for alleles that: (1) confer thermal tolerance, (2) bestow plastic habitat selection, (3) give both thermal tolerance and habitat selection preference and (4) do not provide either thermal tolerance or habitat selection. Inclusion of an adaptive allele decreased declines in population sizes, but this impact was greatly reduced in the relatively cool stream networks. As anticipated with the new module, high‐temperature patches remained unoccupied by individuals with the allele operating plastically after exposure to warm temperatures. Using complete habitat avoidance above the stressful temperature threshold, habitat selection reduced the overall population size due to the opportunity cost of avoiding areas with increased, but not guaranteed, mortality. Inclusion of plasticity within CDMetaPOP will provide the potential for genetic or plastic traits and ‘rescue’ to affect eco‐evolutionary dynamics for research questions and conservation applications.

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  2. Abstract

    The structure and composition of plant communities in drylands are highly variable across scales, from microsites to landscapes. Fine spatial resolution field surveys of dryland plants are essential to unravel the impact of climate change; however, traditional field data collection is challenging considering sampling efforts and costs. Unoccupied aerial systems (UAS) can alleviate this challenge by providing standardized measurements of plant community attributes with high resolution. However, given widespread heterogeneity in plant communities in drylands, and especially across environmental gradients, the transferability of UAS imagery protocols is unclear. Plant functional types (PFTs) are a classification scheme that aggregates the diversity of plant structure and function. We mapped and modeled PFTs and fractional photosynthetic cover using the same UAS imagery protocol across three dryland communities, differentiated by a landscape‐scale gradient of elevation and precipitation. We compared the accuracy of the UAS products between the three dryland sites. PFT classifications and modeled photosynthetic cover had highest accuracies at higher elevations (2241 m) with denser vegetation. The lowest site (1101 m), with more bare ground, had the least agreement with the field data. Notably, shrub cover was well predicted across the gradient of elevation and precipitation (~230–1100 mm/year). UAS surveys captured the heterogeneity of plant cover across sites and presented options to measure leaf‐level composition and structure at landscape levels. Our results demonstrate that some PFTs (i.e., shrubs) can readily be detected across sites using the same UAS imagery protocols, while others (i.e., grasses) may require site‐specific flight protocols for best accuracy. As UAS are increasingly used to monitor dryland vegetation, developing protocols that maximize information and efficiency is a research and management priority.

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  3. Abstract

    Accurate predictions of ecological restoration outcomes are needed across the increasingly large landscapes requiring treatment following disturbances. However, observational studies often fail to account for nonrandom treatment application, which can result in invalid inference. Examining a spatiotemporally extensive management treatment involving post-fire seeding of declining sagebrush shrubs across semiarid areas of the western USA over two decades, we quantify drivers and consequences of selection biases in restoration using remotely sensed data. From following more than 1,500 wildfires, we find treatments were disproportionately applied in more stressful, degraded ecological conditions. Failure to incorporate unmeasured drivers of treatment allocation led to the conclusion that costly, widespread seedings were unsuccessful; however, after considering sources of bias, restoration positively affected sagebrush recovery. Treatment effects varied with climate, indicating prioritization criteria for interventions. Our findings revise the perspective that post-fire sagebrush seedings have been broadly unsuccessful and demonstrate how selection biases can pose substantive inferential hazards in observational studies of restoration efficacy and the development of restoration theory.

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  4. Abstract

    Snake River Sockeye SalmonOncorhynchus nerka, listed as an endangered species in 1991, currently inhabit three nursery lakes (Redfish, Pettit, and Alturas lakes) in the Sawtooth Valley, Idaho. Conspecific kokanee (lacustrine Sockeye Salmon) are also present in the lakes. Snake River Sockeye Salmon recovery efforts, initially focused on genetic conservation, are now attempting to rebuild naturally spawning populations using hatchery supplementation. However, in Sockeye Salmon nursery lakes, density dependence is frequently observed when elevatedO. nerkaabundance leads to declines in zooplankton biomass, body size, and shifts in community composition. In turn, these changes lead to reductions in juvenileO. nerkagrowth rates, survival, and adult returns. We examined a long‐term data set ofO. nerkapopulation metrics and associated zooplankton community metrics. We found evidence of density dependence within and among nursery lakes. We detected differences in zooplankton biomass, lengths of preferred zooplankton prey (Daphniaspp. and cyclopoid copepods), parr growth rates, and age‐1 smolt size among the three lakes. We found negative relationships betweenO. nerkadensity and zooplankton biomass and size. We identified positive relationships between zooplankton biomass and two response variables: smolt size at migration and growth rates of hatchery parr. The relationships were generally similar among lakes. Variable outcomes were a result of differences inO. nerkadensity (or zooplankton biomass), controlled primarily by the relative proportion of spawning and rearing habitat in each lake. Understanding unique lake habitats, ecological interactions, and the role of density dependence is germane to management of Snake River Sockeye Salmon populations.

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  5. Abstract

    Open science and open data within scholarly research programs are growing both in popularity and by requirement from grant funding agencies and journal publishers. A central component of open data management, especially on collaborative, multidisciplinary, and multi-institutional science projects, is documentation of complete and accurate metadata, workflow, and source code in addition to access to raw data and data products to uphold FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) principles. Although best practice in data/metadata management is to use established internationally accepted metadata schemata, many of these standards are discipline-specific making it difficult to catalog multidisciplinary data and data products in a way that is easily findable and accessible. Consequently, scattered and incompatible metadata records create a barrier to scientific innovation, as researchers are burdened to find and link multidisciplinary datasets. One possible solution to increase data findability, accessibility, interoperability, reproducibility, and integrity within multi-institutional and interdisciplinary projects is a centralized and integrated data management platform. Overall, this type of interoperable framework supports reproducible open science and its dissemination to various stakeholders and the public in a FAIR manner by providing direct access to raw data and linking protocols, metadata and supporting workflow materials.

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  6. Abstract

    Interannual variation, especially weather, is an often‐cited reason for restoration “failures”; yet its importance is difficult to experimentally isolate across broad spatiotemporal extents, due to correlations between weather and site characteristics. We examined post‐fire treatments within sagebrush‐steppe ecosystems to ask: (1) Is weather following seeding efforts a primary reason why restoration outcomes depart from predictions? and (2) Does the management‐relevance of weather differ across space and with time since treatment? Our analysis quantified range‐wide patterns of sagebrush (Artemisiaspp.) recovery, by integrating long‐term records of restoration and annual vegetation cover estimates from satellite imagery following thousands of post‐fire seeding treatments from 1984 to 2005. Across the Great Basin, sagebrush growth increased in wetter, cooler springs; however, the importance of spring weather varied with sites' long‐term climates, suggesting differing ecophysiological limitations across sagebrush's range. Incorporation of spring weather, including from the “planting year,” improved predictions of sagebrush recovery, but these advances were small compared to contributions of time‐invariant site characteristics. Given extreme weather conditions threatening this ecosystem, explicit consideration of weather could improve the allocation of management resources, such as by identifying areas requiring repeated treatments; but improved forecasts of shifting mean conditions with climate change may more significantly aid the prediction of sagebrush recovery.

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  7. Summary

    Plant‐associated microbial communities can profoundly affect plant health and success, and research is still uncovering factors driving the assembly of these communities. Here, we examine how geography versus host species affects microbial community structure and differential abundances of individual taxa. We use metabarcoding to characterize the bacteria and eukaryotes associated with five, often co‐occurring species ofSarraceniapitcher plants (Sarraceniaceae) and three natural hybrids along the longitudinal gradient of the U.S. Gulf Coast, as well as samples fromS.purpureain Massachusetts. To tease apart the effects of geography versus host species, we focus first on sites with co‐occurring species and then on species located across different sites. Our analyses show that bacterial and eukaryotic community structures are clearly and consistently influenced by host species identity, with geographic factors also playing a role. Naturally occurring hybrids appear to also host unique communities, which are in some ways intermediate between their parent species. We see significant effects of geography (site and longitude), but these generally explain less of the variation among pitcher communities. Overall, inSarraceniapitchers, host plant phenotype significantly affects the pitcher microbiomes and other associated organisms.

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  8. Abstract

    How intensely animals use habitat features depends on their functional properties (i.e., how the feature influences fitness) and the spatial and temporal scale considered. For herbivores, habitat use is expected to reflect the competing risks of starvation, predation, and thermal stress, but the relative influence of each functional property is expected to vary in space and time. We examined how a dietary and habitat specialist, the pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis), used these functional properties of its sagebrush habitat—food quality, security, and thermal refuge—at two hierarchical spatial scales (microsite and patch) across two seasons (winter and summer). At the microsite and patch scales, we determined which plant functional traits predicted the number of bites (i.e., foraging) by pygmy rabbits and the number of their fecal pellets (i.e., general habitat use). Pygmy rabbits used microsites and patches more intensely that had higher crude protein and aerial concealment cover and were closer to burrows. Food quality was more influential when rabbits used microsites within patches. Security was more influential in winter than summer, and more at Cedar Gulch than Camas. However, the influence of functional properties depended on phytochemical and structural properties of sagebrush and was not spatiotemporally consistent. These results show function‐dependent habitat use that varied according to specific activities by a central‐place browsing herbivore. Making spatially explicit predictions of the relative value of habitat features that influence different types of habitat use (i.e., foraging, hiding, and thermoregulating) will improve how we predict patterns of habitat use by herbivores and how we monitor and manage functional traits within habitats for wildlife.

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  9. Abstract

    Interactions between neighboring plants are critical for biodiversity maintenance in plant populations and communities. Intraspecific trait variation and genome duplication are common in plant species and can drive eco‐evolutionary dynamics through genotype‐mediated plant–plant interactions. However, few studies have examined how species‐wide intraspecific variation may alter interactions between neighboring plants. We investigate how subspecies and ploidy variation in a genetically diverse species, big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), can alter the demographic outcomes of plant interactions. Using a replicated, long‐term common garden experiment that represents range‐wide diversity ofA. tridentata, we ask how intraspecific variation, environment, and stand age mediate neighbor effects on plant growth and survival. Spatially explicit models revealed that ploidy variation and subspecies identity can mediate plant–plant interactions but that the effect size varied in time and across experimental sites. We found that demographic impacts of neighbor effects were strongest during early stages of stand development and in sites with greater growth rates. Within subspecies, tetraploid populations showed greater tolerance to neighbor crowding compared to their diploid variants. Our findings provide evidence that intraspecific variation related to genome size and subspecies identity impacts spatial demography in a genetically diverse plant species. Accounting for intraspecific variation in studies of conspecific density dependence will improve our understanding of how local populations will respond to novel genotypes and biotic interaction regimes. As introduction of novel genotypes into local populations becomes more common, quantifying demographic processes in genetically diverse populations will help predict long‐term consequences of plant–plant interactions.

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  10. Abstract

    Many species that undergo long breeding migrations, such as anadromous fishes, face highly heterogeneous environments along their migration corridors and at their spawning sites. These environmental challenges encountered at different life stages may act as strong selective pressures and drive local adaptation. However, the relative influence of environmental conditions along the migration corridor compared with the conditions at spawning sites on driving selection is still unknown. In this study, we performed genome–environment associations (GEA) to understand the relationship between landscape and environmental conditions driving selection in seven populations of the anadromous Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)—a species of important economic, social, cultural, and ecological value—in the Columbia River basin. We extracted environmental variables for the shared migration corridors and at distinct spawning sites for each population, and used a Pool‐seq approach to perform whole genome resequencing. Bayesian and univariate GEA tests with migration‐specific and spawning site‐specific environmental variables indicated many more candidate SNPs associated with environmental conditions at the migration corridor compared with spawning sites. Specifically, temperature, precipitation, terrain roughness, and elevation variables of the migration corridor were the most significant drivers of environmental selection. Additional analyses of neutral loci revealed two distinct clusters representing populations from different geographic regions of the drainage that also exhibit differences in adult migration timing (summer vs. fall). Tests for genomic regions under selection revealed a strong peak on chromosome 28, corresponding to the GREB1L/ROCK1 region that has been identified previously in salmonids as a region associated with adult migration timing. Our results show that environmental variation experienced throughout migration corridors imposed a greater selective pressure on Chinook salmon than environmental conditions at spawning sites.

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