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    Shifting phenology in response to climate is one mechanism that can promote population persistence and geographic spread; therefore, species with limited ability to phenologically track changing environmental conditions may be more susceptible to population declines. Alternatively, apparently nonresponding species may demonstrate divergent responses to multiple environmental conditions experienced across seasons.


    Capitalizing on herbarium records from across the midwestern United States and on detailed botanical surveys documenting local extinctions over the past century, we investigated whether extirpated and extant taxa differ in their phenological responses to temperature and precipitation during winter and spring (during flowering and the growing season before flowering) or in the magnitude of their flowering time shift over the past century.


    Although warmer temperatures across seasons advanced flowering, extirpated and extant species differed in the magnitude of their phenological responses to winter and spring warming. Extirpated species demonstrated inconsistent phenological responses to warmer spring temperatures, whereas extant species consistently advanced flowering in response to warmer spring temperatures. In contrast, extirpated species advanced flowering more than extant species in response to warmer winter temperatures. Greater spring precipitation tended to delay flowering for both extirpated and extant taxa. Finally, both extirpated and extant taxa delayed flowering over time.


    This study highlights the importance of understanding phenological responses to seasonal warming and indicates that extirpated species may demonstrate more variable phenological responses to temperature than extant congeners, a finding consistent with the hypothesis that appropriate phenological responses may reduce species’ likelihood of extinction.

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  2. Abstract

    Adaptation to environmental change requires that populations harbor the necessary genetic variation to respond to selection. However, dispersal‐limited species with fragmented populations and reduced genetic diversity may lack this variation and are at an increased risk of local extinction. In freshwater fish species, environmental change in the form of increased stream temperatures places many cold‐water species at‐risk. We present a study of rainbow darters (Etheostoma caeruleum) in which we evaluated the importance of genetic variation on adaptive potential and determined responses to extreme thermal stress. We compared fine‐scale patterns of morphological and thermal tolerance differentiation across eight sites, including a unique lake habitat. We also inferred contemporary population structure using genomic data and characterized the relationship between individual genetic diversity and stress tolerance. We found site‐specific variation in thermal tolerance that generally matched local conditions and morphological differences associated with lake‐stream divergence. We detected patterns of population structure on a highly local spatial scale that could not be explained by isolation by distance or stream connectivity. Finally, we showed that individual thermal tolerance was positively correlated with genetic variation, suggesting that sites with increased genetic diversity may be better at tolerating novel stress. Our results highlight the importance of considering intraspecific variation in understanding population vulnerability and stress response.

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  3. Abstract

    Changes in trophic niche—the pathways through which an organism obtains energy and nutrients—are a fundamental way in which organisms respond to environmental conditions. But the capacity for species to alter their trophic niches in response to global change, and the ways they do so when able, remain largely unknown.

    Here we examine food webs in three long‐term and large‐scale experiments to test how resource availability and nutritional requirements interact to determine an organism's trophic niche in the context of one of the largest global trends in land use—the rise in bioenergy production.

    We use carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analyses to characterize arthropod food webs across three biofuel crops representing a gradient in plant resource richness (corn monocultures, fields dominated by native switchgrass and restored prairie), and to quantify changes in the trophic niche of a widespread generalist ant species across habitats. In doing so, we measure the effects of basal resource richness on food chain length, niche breadth and trophic position. We frame our results in the context of two hypotheses that explain variation in trophic niche—the niche variation hypothesis which emphasizes the importance of resource diversity and ecological opportunity, and the optimal diet hypothesis which emphasizes dietary constraints and the availability of optimal resources.

    Increasing plant richness lengthened food chains by 10%–20% compared to monocultures. Niche breadths of generalist ants did not vary with resource richness, suggesting they were limited by optimal diet requirements and constraints rather than by ecological opportunity. The ants instead responded to changes in plant richness by shifting their estimated trophic position. In resource‐poor monocultures, the ants were top predators, sharing a trophic position with predatory spiders. In resource‐rich environments, in contrast, the ants were omnivores, relying on a mix of animal prey and plant‐based resources.

    In addition to highlighting novel ecosystem impacts of alternate bioenergy landscapes, our results suggest that niche breadth and trophic diversification depend more on the presence of optimal resources than on ecological opportunity alone.

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  4. Agricultural landscapes can be managed to protect biodiversity and maintain ecosystem services. One approach to achieve this is to restore native perennial vegetation within croplands. Where rowcrops have displaced prairie, as in the US Midwest, restoration of native perennial vegetation can align with crops in so called “prairie strips.” We tested the effect of prairie strips in addition to other management practices on a variety of taxa and on a suite of ecosystem services. To do so, we worked within a 33-year-old experiment that included treatments that varied methods of agricultural management across a gradient of land use intensity. In the two lowest intensity crop management treatments, we introduced prairie strips that occupied 5% of crop area. We addressed three questions: (1) What are the effects of newly established prairie strips on the spillover of biodiversity and ecosystem services into cropland? (2) How does time since prairie strip establishment affect biodiversity and ecosystem services? (3) What are the tradeoffs and synergies among biodiversity conservation, non-provisioning ecosystem services, and provisioning ecosystem services (crop yield) across a land use intensity gradient (which includes prairie strips)? Within prairie strip treatments, where sampling effort occurred within and at increasing distance from strips, dung beetle abundance, spider abundance and richness, active carbon, decomposition, and pollination decreased with distance from prairie strips, and this effect increased between the first and second year. Across the entire land use intensity gradient, treatments with prairie strips and reduced chemical inputs had higher butterfly abundance, spider abundance, and pollination services. In addition, soil organic carbon, butterfly richness, and spider richness increased with a decrease in land use intensity. Crop yield in one treatment with prairie strips was equal to that of the highest intensity management, even while including the area taken out of production. We found no effects of strips on ant biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions (N 2 O and CH 4 ). Our results show that, even in early establishment, prairie strips and lower land use intensity can contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services without a disproportionate loss of crop yield. 
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