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  1. Abstract

    Estimates of primary productivity in aquatic ecosystems are commonly based on variation in , rather than . The photosynthetic quotient (PQ) is used to convert primary production estimates from units of to C. However, there is a mismatch between the theory and application of the PQ. Aquatic ecologists use PQ = 1–1.4. Meanwhile, PQ estimates from the literature support PQ = 0.1–4.2. Here, we describe the theory on why PQ may vary in aquatic ecosystems. We synthesize the current understanding of how processes such as assimilation and photorespiration can affect the PQ. We test these ideas with a case study of the Clark Fork River, Montana, where theory predicts that PQ could vary in space and time due to variation in environmental conditions. Finally, we highlight research needs to improve our understanding of the PQ. We suggest departing from fixed PQ values and instead use literature‐based sensitivity analyses to infer C dynamics from primary production estimated using .

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  2. Abstract

    Vegetation pattern formation is a widespread phenomenon in resource-limited environments, but the driving mechanisms are largely unconfirmed empirically. Combining results of field studies and mathematical modeling, empirical evidence for a generic pattern-formation mechanism is demonstrated with the clonal shrub Guilandina bonduc L. (hereafter Guilandina) on the Brazilian island of Trindade. The mechanism is associated with water conduction by laterally spread roots and root augmentation as the shoot grows—a crucial element in the positive feedback loop that drives spatial patterning. Assuming precipitation-dependent root–shoot relations, the model accounts for the major vegetation landscapes on Trindade Island, substantiating lateral root augmentation as the driving mechanism of Guilandina patterning. Guilandina expands into surrounding communities dominated by the Trindade endemic, Cyperus atlanticus Hemsl. (hereafter Cyperus). It appears to do so by decreasing the water potential in soils below Cyperus through its dense lateral roots, leaving behind a patchy Guilandina-only landscape. We use this system to highlight a novel form of invasion, likely to apply to many other systems where the invasive species is pattern-forming. Depending on the level of water stress, the invasion can take two distinct forms: (i) a complete invasion at low stress that culminates in a patchy Guilandina-only landscape through a spot-replication process, and (ii) an incomplete invasion at high stress that begins but does not spread, forming isolated Guilandina spots of fixed size, surrounded by bare-soil halos, in an otherwise uniform Cyperus grassland. Thus, drier climates may act selectively on pattern-forming invasive species, imposing incomplete invasion and reducing the negative effects on native species.

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  3. Abstract

    Reverse Osmosis (RO) is a promising technology that will increase access to clean and safe water sources throughout the world. However, the impact of RO filtration of natural waters is severely hindered by biofouling. Formation of complex biofilms on RO membranes dramatically decreases output due to release of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) by the microorganisms. We present a polydopamine-copper (PD-Cu) coating for RO feed spacer materials to prevent biofouling and enhance longevity of Cu ions. The following spacers were tested in a continuous flow bench scale RO system: (1) Polypropylene (PP) feed spacers coated with PD-Cu, (2) a pristine PP, control spacer, (3), a PD control spacer and (4) a Cu control spacer. Results showed the PD-Cu spacers exhibited higher Cu ion chelation, retaining 71 ± 2% more Cu ions compared to a Cu-only spacer after 13 h. In a stirring beaker, PD-Cu spacers lost loosely attached Cu ions until the optimum Cu concentration was achieved, approximately 30.6 ± 0.3% of total composition, within 6 h, and the remaining Cu ions bonded with PD covalently. In addition, PD-Cu spacers showed a 17.5% higher permeate flux and a 58% biofilm biovolume decrease as compared to a pristine spacer over 24 h.

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  4. Abstract

    The concept of adaptive capacity has received significant attention within social-ecological and environmental change research. Within both the resilience and vulnerability literatures specifically, adaptive capacity has emerged as a fundamental concept for assessing the ability of social-ecological systems to adapt to environmental change. Although methods and indicators used to evaluate adaptive capacity are broad, the focus of existing scholarship has predominately been at the individual- and household- levels. However, the capacities necessary for humans to adapt to global environmental change are often a function of individual and societal characteristics, as well as cumulative and emergent capacities across communities and jurisdictions. In this paper, we apply a systematic literature review and co-citation analysis to investigate empirical research on adaptive capacity that focus on societal levels beyond the household. Our review demonstrates that assessments of adaptive capacity at higher societal levels are increasing in frequency, yet vary widely in approach, framing, and results; analyses focus on adaptive capacity at many different levels (e.g. community, municipality, global region), geographic locations, and cover multiple types of disturbances and their impacts across sectors. We also found that there are considerable challenges with regard to the ‘fit’ between data collected and analytical methods used in adequately capturing the cross-scale and cross-level determinants of adaptive capacity. Current approaches to assessing adaptive capacity at societal levels beyond the household tend to simply aggregate individual- or household-level data, which we argue oversimplifies and ignores the inherent interactions within and across societal levels of decision-making that shape the capacity of humans to adapt to environmental change across multiple scales. In order for future adaptive capacity research to be more practice-oriented and effectively guide policy, there is a need to develop indicators and assessments that are matched with the levels of potential policy applications.

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  5. Abstract

    Temporally heterogeneous environments may drive rapid and continuous plastic responses, leading to highly variable plasticity in traits. However, direct experimental evidence for such meta‐plasticity due to environmental heterogeneity is rare.

    Our objective was to investigate the effects of early experience with temporally heterogeneous water availability on the subsequent plasticity of plant species in response to water conditions.

    We subjected eight plant species from three habitats, four exotic and four native to North America, to initial exposure to either a first round of alternating drought and inundation treatment (Ehet, temporally heterogeneous experience) or a consistently moderate water supply (Ehom, homogeneous experience), and to a second round of drought, moderate watering or inundation treatments. Afterwards the performance in a series of traits of these species, after the first and second rounds of treatments, was measured.

    Compared withEhom,Ehetincreased final mean total mass of all species considered together but did not affect mean mortality.Ehetrelative toEhom, decreased the initial total mass of native species as a group, but increased the mass of exotic species or species from hydric habitats;Ehetalso increased the late growth of natives, but did not for exotics, and increased the late growth of mesic species more than xeric and hydric species.

    Our results suggest that previous exposure to temporal heterogeneity in water supply may be not beneficial immediately, but can be beneficial for plant growth and response to water stress later in a plant's lifetime. Heterogeneous experiences may not necessarily enhance the degree of plasticity but may improve the expression of plasticity in terms of better performance later, effects of which differ for different groups of species, suggesting species‐specific strategies for dealing with fluctuating abiotic environments.

    Synthesis. Previous temporally heterogeneous experience can benefits plant growth later in life though modulating the expression of plasticity, leading to adaptive meta‐plasticity. Studies of meta‐plasticity may improve our understanding not only on the importance of variable plasticity in relation to how plants cope with environmental challenges but also on the costs versus benefits of plastic responses and its limits over the long term.

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  6. Abstract

    The size and frequency of resource pulses can affect plant interactions and increase the abundance of invasive species relative to native species. We examined resource pulses generated during the desiccation and rehydration of communities of native biological soil crust (biocrust)‐forming mosses, in the context of positive associations between biocrusts and the invasive forb,Centaurea stoebe.

    We surveyedCentaureaand biocrust cover and evaluated how interactions amongCentaurea, biocrusts and water pulses influenced plant biomass and soil nitrogen in a field experiment.Centaureaseedling and biocrust interactions were also compared in a greenhouse experiment to evaluate differences related to life stage.

    In field surveys,Centaureaand biocrusts were positively associated. Across water pulse treatments, biocrust biomass decreased whenCentaureawas removed, indicating thatCentaureafacilitated biocrusts. Biocrusts did not affect adultCentaureain the field, butCentaureaseedling biomass was greater when grown with biocrusts in the greenhouse. Water pulses did not affect plant biomass, but interactions betweenCentaureaand biocrusts corresponded with variation in the effect of water pulses on soil nitrogen which were not evident whenCentaureaor biocrusts were grown alone. Twenty‐four hours after large water pulses were added, soilwas nine times higher in plots where biocrusts andCentaureaco‐occurred compared with small water pulse plots. In these same plots, soiltended to be lower at the end of the experiment.

    These results highlight positive interactions between an invasive exotic forb and native moss biocrust. Water pulses influenced soil nitrogen availability when both plants co‐occurred, but did not affect plant biomass, suggesting that resource pulses and species interactions can interact to affect ecosystem processes.

    A freePlain Language Summarycan be found within the Supporting Information of this article.

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  7. Abstract

    The plastic responses of plants to abiotic and biotic environmental factors have generally been addressed separately; thus we have a poor understanding of how these factors interact. For example, little is known about the effects of plant–plant interactions on the plasticity of plants in response to water availability. Furthermore, few studies have compared the effects of intra‐ and interspecific interactions on plastic responses to abiotic factors. To explore the effects of intraspecific and interspecific plant–plant interactions on plant responses to water availability, we grewLeucanthemumvulgareandPotentillarectawith a conspecific or the other species, and grew pairs of each species as controls in pots with the roots, but not shoots, physically separated. We subjected these competitive arrangements to mesic and dry conditions, and then measured shoot mass, root mass, total mass and root : shoot ratio and calculated plasticity in these traits. The total biomass of both species was highly suppressed by both intra‐ and interspecific interactions in mesic soil conditions. However, in drier soil, intraspecific interactions for both species and the effect ofP. rectaonLvulgarewere facilitative. For plasticity in response to water supply, when adjusted for total biomass, drought increased shoot mass, and decreased root mass and root : shoot ratios for both species in intraspecific interactions. When grown alone, there were no plastic responses in any trait except total mass, for either species. Our results suggested that plants interacting with other plants often show improved tolerance for drought than those grown alone, perhaps because of neighbor‐induced shifts in plasticity in biomass allocation. Facilitative effects might also be promoted by plasticity to drought in root : shoot ratios.

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  8. Abstract

    After 25 years of biodiversity experiments, it is clear that higher biodiversity (B) plant communities are usually more productive and often have greater ecosystem functioning (EF) than lower diversity communities. However, the mechanisms underlying this positive biodiversityecosystem functioning (BEF) relationship are still poorly understood.

    The vast majority of past work in BEF research has focused on the roles of mathematically partitioned complementarity and selection effects. While these mathematical approaches have provided insights into underlying mechanisms, they have focused strongly on competition and resource partitioning.

    Importantly, mathematically partitioned complementarity effects include multiple facilitative mechanisms, including dilution of species‐specific pathogens, positive changes in soil nutrient cycling, associational defence and microclimate amelioration.

    Synthesis. This Special Feature takes an experimental and mechanistic approach to teasing out the facilitative mechanisms that underlie positive BEF relationships. As an example, we demonstrate diversity‐driven changes in microclimate amelioration. Articles in this Special Feature explore photoinhibition, experimental manipulations of microclimate, lidar examinations of plant canopy effects and higher‐order trophic interactions as facilitative mechanisms behind classic BEF processes. We emphasize the need for future BEF experiments to disentangle the facilitative mechanisms that are interlinked with niche complementarity to better understand the fundamental processes by which diversity regulates life on Earth.

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  9. Abstract

    Total alkalinity (AT) is an important parameter in the study of aquatic biogeochemical cycles, chemical speciation modeling, and many other important fundamental and anthropogenic (e.g., industrial) processes. We know little about its short‐term variability, however, because studies are based on traditional bottle sampling typically with coarse temporal resolution. In this work, an autonomous ATsensor, named the Submersible Autonomous Moored Instrument for Alkalinity (SAMI‐alk), was tested for freshwater applications. A comprehensive evaluation was conducted in the laboratory using freshwater standards. The results demonstrated excellent precision and accuracy (± 0.1%–0.4%) over the ATrange from 800 to 3000 μmol L−1. The system had no drift over an 8 d test and also demonstrated limited sensitivity to variations in temperature and ionic strength. Three SAMI‐alks were deployed for 23 d in the Clark Fork River, Montana, with a suite of other sensors. Compared to discrete samples, in situ accuracy for the three instruments were within 10–20 μmol L−1(0.3–0.6%), indicating good performance considering the challenges of in situ measurements in a high sediment, high biofouling riverine environment with large and rapid changes in temperature. These data reveal the complex ATdynamics that are typically missed by coarse sampling. We observed ATdiel cycles as large as 60–80 μmol L−1, as well as a rapid change caused by a runoff event. Significant errors in inorganic carbon system modeling result if these short‐term variations are not considered. This study demonstrates both the feasibility of the technology and importance of high‐resolution ATmeasurements.

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  10. Abstract

    Why only a small proportion of exotic species become invasive is an unresolved question. Escape from the negative effects of soil biota in the native range can be important for the success of many invasives, but comparative effects of soil biota on less successful exotic species are poorly understood. Studies of other mechanisms suggest that such comparisons might be fruitful. Seeds of three closely relatedCentaureaspecies with overlapping distributions in both their native range of Spain and their nonnative range of California were grown to maturity in pots to obtain an F1 generation of full sibling seeds with reduced maternal effects. Full sibling F1 seeds from both ranges were subsequently grown in pots with inoculations of soil from either the native or nonnative ranges in a fully orthogonal factorial design. We then compared plant biomass among species, regions, and soil sources. Our results indicate that escape from soil pathogens may unleash the highly invasiveCentaurea solstitialis, which was suppressed by native Spanish soils but not by soils from California. In contrast, the two non‐invasiveCentaureaspecies grew the same on all soils. These results add unprecedented phylogenetically controlled insight into why some species invade and others do not.

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