• Aims This botanical briefing examines how molecular systematics has contributed to progress in understanding the history of Tertiary relict genera, i.e. those that that now occur disjunctly in parts of Eurasia and N America, and how progress in understanding Southern Hemisphere biogeography paradoxically makes unravelling Northern Hemisphere biogeography more complex.
• Scope Tertiary relict floras comprise genera of warm wet climates that were once circumboreal in distribution but are now confined to E Asia, south-eastern and western N America, and SW Eurasia. The intercontinental disjunctions among these genera have long been believed to result from land connections between Eurasia and N America, across Beringia and the N Atlantic. This view is reassessed in the light of new evidence for long dispersal of propagules across oceans being responsible for many plant disjunctions involving southern continents. The impact of molecular dating, which has been very different in Southern and Northern Hemisphere biogeography, is discussed.
• Conclusions For N America–Eurasia disjunctions involving Tertiary relict floras, land connections remain the more likely cause of disjunctions but data from fossils or infraspecific variation will be required to exclude long-dispersal explanations for disjunctions in any individual genus. Molecular dating of divergence between disjunctly distributed Tertiary relict floras can tell us which palaeoclimatic or palaeogeographic events impacted on them, and how, but only if migration over land and vicariance can be proved and molecular dating is sufficiently accurate.
Tertiary relict floras; plant disjunctions; biogeography; Bering land bridge; dispersal; vicariance; molecular dating; Northern Hemisphere; paleoclimate
Herbivores have been hypothesized to adapt locally to variation in plant defences and such adaptation could facilitate novel associations in the context of biological invasions. Here, we show that in the native range of the viburnum leaf beetle (VLB, Pyrrhalta viburni), two populations of geographically isolated hosts—Viburnum opulus and Viburnum tinus—have divergent defences against VLB oviposition: negative versus positive density-dependent egg-crushing wound responses, respectively. Populations of beetles coexisting with each host show an adaptive behavioural response: aggregative versus non-aggregative oviposition on V. opulus and V. tinus, respectively. In parallel, we show that in North America, where VLB is invasive, defences of three novel hosts are negatively density-dependent, and beetles' oviposition behaviour is aggregative. Thus, local adaptation to plant defences has the potential to facilitate the invasion of herbivores onto novel hosts.
insect oviposition strategy; invasion ecology; adaptive deme hypothesis; Chrysomelidae; plant–insect interactions; plant defence theory
Cortinarius species in section Calochroi display local, clinal and circumboreal patterns of distribution across the Northern Hemisphere where these ectomycorrhizal fungi occur with host trees throughout their geographical range within a continent, or have disjunct intercontinental distributions, the origins of which are not understood. We inferred evolutionary histories of four species, 1) C. arcuatorum, 2) C. aureofulvus, 3) C. elegantior and 4) C. napus, from populations distributed throughout the Old World, and portions of the New World (Central- and North America) based on genetic variation of 154 haplotype internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences from 83 population samples. By describing the population structure of these species across their geographical distribution, we attempt to identify their historical migration and patterns of diversification.
Models of population structure from nested clade, demographic and coalescent-based analyses revealed genetically differentiated and geographically structured haplotypes in C. arcuatorum and C. elegantior, while C. aureofulvus showed considerably less population structure and C. napus lacked sufficient genetic differentiation to resolve any population structure. Disjunct populations within C. arcuatorum, C. aureofulvus and C. elegantior show little or no morphological differentiation, whereas in C. napus there is a high level of homoplasy and phenotypic plasticity for veil and lamellae colour. The ITS sequences of the type specimens of C. albobrunnoides and C. albobrunnoides var. violaceovelatus were identical to one another and are treated as one species with a wider range of geographic distribution under C. napus.
Our results indicate that each of the Calochroi species has undergone a relatively independent evolutionary history, hypothesised as follows: 1) a widely distributed ancestral population of C. arcuatorum diverged into distinctive sympatric populations in the New World; 2) two divergent lineages in C. elegantior gave rise to the New World and Old World haplotypes, respectively; and 3) the low levels of genetic divergence within C. aureofulvus and C. napus may be the result of more recent demographic population expansions. The scenario of migration via the Bering Land Bridge provides the most probable explanation for contemporaneous disjunct geographic distributions of these species, but it does not offer an explanation for the low degree of genetic divergence between populations of C. aureofulvus and C. napus. Our findings are mostly consistent with the designation of New World allopatric populations as separate species from the European counterpart species C. arcuatorum and C. elegantior. We propose the synonymy of C. albobrunnoides, C. albobrunnoides var. violaceovelatus and C. subpurpureophyllus var. sulphureovelatus with C. napus. The results also reinforce previous observations that linked C. arcuatorum and C. aureofulvus displaying distributions in parts of North America and Europe. Interpretations of the population structure of these fungi suggest that host tree history has heavily influenced their modern distributions; however, the complex issues related to co-migration of these fungi with their tree hosts remain unclear at this time.
Understanding how past climate changes affected biodiversity is a key issue in contemporary ecology and conservation biology. These diversity changes are, however, difficult to reconstruct from paleoecological sources alone, because macrofossil and pollen records do not provide complete information about species assemblages. Ecologists therefore use information from modern analogues of past communities in order to get a better understanding of past diversity changes. Here we compare plant diversity, species traits and environment between late-glacial Abies, early-Holocene Quercus, and mid-Holocene warm-temperate Carpinus forest refugia on Jeju Island, Korea in order to provide insights into postglacial changes associated with their replacement. Based on detailed study of relict communities, we propose that the late-glacial open-canopy conifer forests in southern part of Korean Peninsula were rich in vascular plants, in particular of heliophilous herbs, whose dramatic decline was caused by the early Holocene invasion of dwarf bamboo into the understory of Quercus forests, followed by mid-Holocene expansion of strongly shading trees such as maple and hornbeam. This diversity loss was partly compensated in the Carpinus forests by an increase in shade-tolerant evergreen trees, shrubs and lianas. However, the pool of these species is much smaller than that of light-demanding herbs, and hence the total species richness is lower, both locally and in the whole area of the Carpinus and Quercus forests. The strongly shading tree species dominating in the hornbeam forests have higher leaf tissue N and P concentrations and smaller leaf dry matter content, which enhances litter decomposition and nutrient cycling and in turn favored the selection of highly competitive species in the shrub layer. This further reduced available light and caused almost complete disappearance of understory herbs, including dwarf bamboo.
Background and Aims
The response of forest herb regeneration from seed to temperature variations across latitudes was experimentally assessed in order to forecast the likely response of understorey community dynamics to climate warming.
Seeds of two characteristic forest plants (Anemone nemorosa and Milium effusum) were collected in natural populations along a latitudinal gradient from northern France to northern Sweden and exposed to three temperature regimes in growth chambers (first experiment). To test the importance of local adaptation, reciprocal transplants were also made of adult individuals that originated from the same populations in three common gardens located in southern, central and northern sites along the same gradient, and the resulting seeds were germinated (second experiment). Seedling establishment was quantified by measuring the timing and percentage of seedling emergence, and seedling biomass in both experiments.
Spring warming increased emergence rates and seedling growth in the early-flowering forb A. nemorosa. Seedlings of the summer-flowering grass M. effusum originating from northern populations responded more strongly in terms of biomass growth to temperature than southern populations. The above-ground biomass of the seedlings of both species decreased with increasing latitude of origin, irrespective of whether seeds were collected from natural populations or from the common gardens. The emergence percentage decreased with increasing home-away distance in seeds from the transplant experiment, suggesting that the maternal plants were locally adapted.
Decreasing seedling emergence and growth were found from the centre to the northern edge of the distribution range for both species. Stronger responses to temperature variation in seedling growth of the grass M. effusum in the north may offer a way to cope with environmental change. The results further suggest that climate warming might differentially affect seedling establishment of understorey plants across their distribution range and thus alter future understorey plant dynamics.
Anemone nemorosa; climate change; common garden; growth chambers; latitudinal gradient; local adaptation; Milium effusum; plant regeneration; range edges; recruitment; seedling establishment; temperature
Fine roots play an important role in nutrient and water absorption and hence overall tree performance. However, current understanding of the ecological role of belowground traits lags considerably behind those of aboveground traits. In this study, we used data on specific root length (SRL), fine root diameter (D) and branching intensity (BI) of two datasets to examine interspecific trait coordination as well as intraspecific trait variation across ontogenetic stage and soil conditions (i.e., plasticity). The first dataset included saplings of 12 North American temperate tree species grown in monocultures in a common garden experiment to examine interspecific trait coordination. The second dataset included adult and juvenile individuals of four species (present in both datasets) co-occurring in natural forests on contrasting soils (i.e., humid organic, mesic, and xeric podzolic).The three fine root traits investigated were strongly coordinated, with high SRL being related to low D and high BI. Fine root traits and aboveground life-strategies (i.e., relative growth rate) were weakly coordinated and never significant. Intraspecific responses to changes in ontogenetic stage or soil conditions were trait dependent. SRL was significantly higher in juveniles compared to adults for Abies balsamea and Acer rubrum, but did not vary with soil condition. BI did not vary significantly with either ontogeny or soil conditions, while D was generally significantly lower in juveniles and higher in humid organic soils. D also had the least total variability most of which was due to changes in the environment (plasticity). This study brings support for the emerging evidence for interspecific root trait coordination in trees. It also indicates that intraspecific responses to both ontogeny and soil conditions are trait dependent and less concerted. D appears to be a better indicator of environmental change than SRL and BI.
specific root length; fine root diameter; branching intensity; tree fine roots; phenotypic plasticity; functional traits
Strong latitudinal patterns in leaf form are well documented in floristic comparisons and palaeobotanical studies. However, there is little agreement about their functional significance; in fact, it is still unknown to what degree these patterns were generated by repeated evolutionary adaptation. We analysed leaf form in the woody angiosperm clade Viburnum (Adoxaceae) and document evolutionarily correlated shifts in leafing habit, leaf margin morphology, leaf shape and climate. Multiple independent shifts between tropical and temperate forest habitats have repeatedly been accompanied by a change between evergreen, elliptical leaves with entire margins and deciduous, more rounded leaves with toothed or lobed margins. These consistent shifts in Viburnum support repeated evolutionary adaptation as a major determinant of the global correlation between leaf form and mean annual temperature. Our results provide a new theoretical grounding for the inference of past climates using fossil leaf assemblages.
leaf margin analysis; leaf teeth; Viburnum; leaf shape; elliptical Fourier analysis; biogeography
Macroecology was developed as a big picture statistical approach to the study of ecology and evolution. By focusing on broadly occurring patterns and processes operating at large spatial and temporal scales rather than on localized and/or fine-scaled details, macroecology aims to uncover general mechanisms operating at organism, population, and ecosystem levels of organization. Macroecological studies typically involve the statistical analysis of fundamental species-level traits, such as body size, area of geographical range, and average density and/or abundance. Here, we briefly review the history of macroecology and use the body size of mammals as a case study to highlight current developments in the field, including the increasing linkage with biogeography and other disciplines. Characterizing the factors underlying the spatial and temporal patterns of body size variation in mammals is a daunting task and moreover, one not readily amenable to traditional statistical analyses. Our results clearly illustrate remarkable regularities in the distribution and variation of mammalian body size across both geographical space and evolutionary time that are related to ecology and trophic dynamics and that would not be apparent without a broader perspective.
macroecology; temporal scales; spatial scales; mammalian body mass; biogeography; the comparative method
Evolutionary responses are required for tree populations to be able to track climate change. Results of 250 years of common garden experiments show that most forest trees have evolved local adaptation, as evidenced by the adaptive differentiation of populations in quantitative traits, reflecting environmental conditions of population origins. On the basis of the patterns of quantitative variation for 19 adaptation-related traits studied in 59 tree species (mostly temperate and boreal species from the Northern hemisphere), we found that genetic differentiation between populations and clinal variation along environmental gradients were very common (respectively, 90% and 78% of cases). Thus, responding to climate change will likely require that the quantitative traits of populations again match their environments. We examine what kind of information is needed for evaluating the potential to respond, and what information is already available. We review the genetic models related to selection responses, and what is known currently about the genetic basis of the traits. We address special problems to be found at the range margins, and highlight the need for more modeling to understand specific issues at southern and northern margins. We need new common garden experiments for less known species. For extensively studied species, new experiments are needed outside the current ranges. Improving genomic information will allow better prediction of responses. Competitive and other interactions within species and interactions between species deserve more consideration. Despite the long generation times, the strong background in quantitative genetics and growing genomic resources make forest trees useful species for climate change research. The greatest adaptive response is expected when populations are large, have high genetic variability, selection is strong, and there is ecological opportunity for establishment of better adapted genotypes.
adaptive traits; conifers; local adaptation; natural selection; phenotypic plasticity; provenance trials; quantitative genetics
The rainforests are the great green heart of Africa, and present a unique combination of ecological, climatic and human interactions. In this synthesis paper, we review the past and present state processes of change in African rainforests, and explore the challenges and opportunities for maintaining a viable future for these biomes. We draw in particular on the insights and new analyses emerging from the Theme Issue on ‘African rainforests: past, present and future’ of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. A combination of features characterize the African rainforest biome, including a history of climate variation; forest expansion and retreat; a long history of human interaction with the biome; a relatively low plant species diversity but large tree biomass; a historically exceptionally high animal biomass that is now being severely hunted down; the dominance of selective logging; small-scale farming and bushmeat hunting as the major forms of direct human pressure; and, in Central Africa, the particular context of mineral- and oil-driven economies that have resulted in unusually low rates of deforestation and agricultural activity. We conclude by discussing how this combination of factors influences the prospects for African forests in the twenty-first century.
Africa; tropical rainforest; climate change; deforestation; hunting; logging
The struggle for existence occurs through the vital rates of population growth. This basic fact demonstrates the tight connection between ecology and evolution that defines the emerging field of eco-evolutionary dynamics. An effective synthesis of the interdependencies between ecology and evolution is grounded in six principles. The mechanics of evolution specifies the origin and rules governing traits and evolutionary strategies. Traits and evolutionary strategies achieve their selective value through their functional relationships with fitness. Function depends on the underlying structure of variation and the temporal, spatial and organizational scales of evolution. An understanding of how changes in traits and strategies occur requires conjoining ecological and evolutionary dynamics. Adaptation merges these five pillars to achieve a comprehensive understanding of ecological and evolutionary change. I demonstrate the value of this world-view with reference to the theory and practice of habitat selection. The theory allows us to assess evolutionarily stable strategies and states of habitat selection, and to draw the adaptive landscapes for habitat-selecting species. The landscapes can then be used to forecast future evolution under a variety of climate change and other scenarios.
adaptation; ecology; evolution; habitat selection; mammals; natural selection
A series of growth experiments and observations on natural populations have been carried out on dipterocarp species of contrasting ecology growing in artificial gaps and the forest understorey. These studies have demonstrated that although differences exist between species in photosynthetic and growth responses to the high-light environment, competition for light in canopy gaps is highly asymmetrical and tends to reinforce any pre-existing dominance hierarchy. We propose that differences in seedling persistence in forest canopy shade are highly influenced by species-specific biotic and abiotic interactions. Our experiments suggest that as seedlings, dipterocarp species trade off traits which enhance persistence and growth in shade against those that enhance their ability to exploit gaps. Less competitive species survive for progressively longer periods of time after a gregarious fruiting event. This leads to significant shifts with time in the number of species present in the seedling bank and hence in the importance of interspecific competition in determining which species dominates regrowth in gaps. We propose that this special case of dispersal limitation is more likely to account for coexistence of dipterocarp species than differences in growth responses to gaps of different size, with stochastic and environmental variables interacting to determine species distribution and abundance.
Forest systems are increasingly threatened by emergent, exotic diseases, yet management strategies for forest trees may be hindered by long generation times and scant background knowledge. We tested whether nursery disease resistance and growth traits have predictive value for the conservation of Notholithocarpus densiflorus, the host most susceptible to sudden oak death. We established three experimental populations to assess nursery growth and resistance to Phytophthora ramorum, and correlations between nursery-derived breeding values with seedling survival in a field disease trial. Estimates of nursery traits’ heritability were low to moderate, with lowest estimates for resistance traits. Within the field trial, survival likelihood was increased in larger seedlings and decreased with the development of disease symptoms. The seed-parent family wide likelihood of survival was likewise correlated with family predictors for size and resistance to disease in 2nd year laboratory assays, though not resistance in 1st year leaf assays. We identified traits and seedling families with increased survivorship in planted tanoaks, and a framework to further identify seed parents favored for restoration. The additive genetic variation and seedling disease dynamics we describe hold promise to refine current disease models and expand the understanding of evolutionary dynamics of emergent infectious diseases in highly susceptible hosts.
forest management; generalized linear mixed models; host–parasite interactions; invasive species; natural selection and contemporary evolution; quantitative genetics; sudden oak death; survival analysis
South America is one of the most species diverse continents in the world. Within South America diversity is not distributed evenly at both local and continental scales and this has led to the recognition of various areas with unique species assemblages. Several schemes currently exist which divide the continental-level diversity into large species assemblages referred to as biomes. Here we review five currently available biome maps for South America, including the WWF Ecoregions, the Americas basemap, the Land Cover Map of South America, Morrone's Biogeographic regions of Latin America, and the Ecological Systems Map. The comparison is performed through a case study on the Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest (SDTF) biome using herbarium data of habitat specialist species.
Current biome maps of South America perform poorly in depicting SDTF distribution. The poor performance of the maps can be attributed to two main factors: (1) poor spatial resolution, and (2) poor biome delimitation. Poor spatial resolution strongly limits the use of some of the maps in GIS applications, especially for areas with heterogeneous landscape such as the Andes. Whilst the Land Cover Map did not suffer from poor spatial resolution, it showed poor delimitation of biomes. The results highlight that delimiting structurally heterogeneous vegetation is difficult based on remote sensed data alone. A new refined working map of South American SDTF biome is proposed, derived using the Biome Distribution Modelling (BDM) approach where georeferenced herbarium data is used in conjunction with bioclimatic data.
Georeferenced specimen data play potentially an important role in biome mapping. Our study shows that herbarium data could be used as a way of ground-truthing biome maps in silico. The results also illustrate that herbarium data can be used to model vegetation maps through predictive modelling. The BDM approach is a promising new method in biome mapping, and could be particularly useful for mapping poorly known, fragmented, or degraded vegetation. We wish to highlight that biome delimitation is not an exact science, and that transparency is needed on how biomes are used as study units in macroevolutionary and ecological research.
The conservation efficiency of Protected Areas (PA) is influenced by the health and characteristics of the surrounding landscape matrix. Fragmentation of adjacent lands interrupts ecological flows within PAs and will decrease the ability of species to shift their distribution as climate changes. For five periods across the 21st century, we assessed changes to the extent of primary land, secondary land, pasture and crop land projected to occur within 50 km buffers surrounding IUCN-designated PAs. Four scenarios of land-use were obtained from the Land-Use Harmonization Project, developed for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The scenarios project the continued decline of primary lands within buffers surrounding PAs. Substantial losses are projected to occur across buffer regions in the tropical forest biomes of Indo-Malayan and the Temperate Broadleaf forests of the Nearctic. A number of buffer regions are projected to have negligible primary land remaining by 2100, including those in the Afrotropic's Tropical/Subtropical Grassland/Savanna/Shrubland. From 2010–2050, secondary land is projected to increase within most buffer regions, although, as with pasture and crops within tropical and temperate forests, projections from the four land-use scenarios may diverge substantially in magnitude and direction of change. These scenarios demonstrate a range of alternate futures, and show that although effective mitigation strategies may reduce pressure on land surrounding PAs, these areas will contain an increasingly heterogeneous matrix of primary and human-modified landscapes. Successful management of buffer regions will be imperative to ensure effectiveness of PAs and to facilitate climate-induced shifts in species ranges.
► The ‘bloody heart lichen’ Mycoblastus sanguinarius consists of two, widespread, cryptic species. ► Mycoblastus sanguinarioides, previously thought confined to Tasmania, is widely distributed. ► Low level clades within both of the cryptic species are correlated with fatty acid profiles. ► Early chemical differentiation may play a role in incipient speciation events.
Lichens are a prominent feature of northern conifer forests and a large number of species are thought to be circumboreal. Whether or not circumboreal lichen species really constitute monophyletic groups has seldom been tested. We investigated molecular phylogenetic patterns in the mycobiont of Mycoblastus sanguinarius, a well known epiphytic lichen species of the boreal forest, based on material collected from across the high latitude northern hemisphere. A three-locus dataset of internal transcribed spacer rDNA, translation elongation factor 1-α and replication licensing factor Mcm7 DNA sequences revealed that material treated until now as belonging to M. sanguinarius does indeed form a monophyletic group within the genus and is distinct from a strongly supported Mycoblastus affinis. The M. sanguinarius complex appears closely related to the rare Mycoblastus glabrescens, which is currently known only from the Pacific Northwest and was rediscovered during the present study. However, within M. sanguinarius s.lat. in the northern hemisphere, two deeply divergent and morphologically coherent species can be recovered, one of which matches the southern hemisphere species Mycoblastus sanguinarioides and turns out to be widespread in North America and Asia, and one of which corresponds to M. sanguinarius s.str. Both M. sanguinarius and M. sanguinarioides exhibit additional low-level genetic differentiation into geographically structured clades, the most prominent of which are distributed in East Asia/eastern North America and western North America/Europe, respectively. Individuals from these lowest-level clades are morphologically indistinguishable but chemical analyses by thin layer chromatography revealed that each clade possesses its own fatty acid profile, suggesting that chemical differentiation precedes morphological differentiation and may be a precursor to speciation.
Aliphatic compound; Ascomycete; Chemotaxonomy; Cryptic species; Internal transcribed spacer region; Lichen chemistry; Replication licensing factor Mcm7 gene; Translation elongation factor 1-α gene
Sisyrinchium micranthum Cav. is a member of the family Iridaceae, which is distributed over the American continent. In Brazil, this species is found, not only in disturbed areas and coastal regions, but is also very common in urban centers, such as public parks, during the spring. Chromosome counts for North American specimens are 2n = 32 and 2n = 48, whereas in southern Brazil, there is a polyploidy series with three chromosome numbers, 2n = 16, 2n = 32, and 2n = 48. Population analyses using DNA molecular markers are inexistent for this species, in spite of its wide distribution and morphological variation. To study the genetic population structure of S. micranthum, five natural populations were accessed in a conservation park within the Atlantic Rain Forest Biome in southern Brazil. Here, the chromosome numbers 2n = 16 and 2n = 48 had already been described. Molecular analysis showed that the populations are highly structured with low gene flow among them. The population with 2n = 48 was genetically less variable than and distinct from the other populations. Population genetics in relation to cytogenetic data provided new insights regarding the genetic diversification and mating system of S. micranthum.
Iridaceae; ISSR-PCR; mating system; population genetics; Sisyrinchium micranthum
Invasive species can show substantial genetic variation in ecologically important traits, across ranges as well within the introduced range. If these traits affect competition with native species, then management may benefit from considering the genetic landscape of the invader. Across their introduced range, Alliaria petiolata populations vary in their investment in allelopathic traits according to invasion history, which could lead to gradients of impact on native species. Red oak (Quercus rubra) seedlings were transplanted into eight A. petiolata-invaded sites that varied in their invasion history and allelochemical concentrations. At each site, an invader removal treatment was crossed with experimental inoculations of native soil biota, to test whether the benefits of these restoration actions differed across invader populations. Q. rubra seedlings grew faster in invader populations with a longer invasion history and lower allelochemical concentrations. Invader removal and soil inoculation interacted to determine seedling growth, with the benefits of soil inoculation increasing in younger and more highly allelopathic invader populations. A greenhouse experiment using soils collected from experimentally inoculated field plots found similar patterns. These results suggest that the impact of this invader varies across landscapes and that knowledge of this variation could improve the efficacy and efficiency of restoration activities.
Alliaria petiolata; glucosinolates; mycorrhizae; Quercus rubra; restoration
The ecological impacts of changing forest management practices in Europe are poorly understood despite European forests being highly managed. Furthermore, the effects of potential drivers of forest biodiversity decline are rarely considered in concert, thus limiting effective conservation or sustainable forest management. We present a trait-based framework that we use to assess the detrimental impact of multiple land-use and management changes in forests on bird populations across Europe. Major changes to forest habitats occurring in recent decades, and their impact on resource availability for birds were identified. Risk associated with these changes for 52 species of forest birds, defined as the proportion of each species' key resources detrimentally affected through changes in abundance and/or availability, was quantified and compared to their pan-European population growth rates between 1980 and 2009. Relationships between risk and population growth were found to be significantly negative, indicating that resource loss in European forests is an important driver of decline for both resident and migrant birds. Our results demonstrate that coarse quantification of resource use and ecological change can be valuable in understanding causes of biodiversity decline, and thus in informing conservation strategy and policy. Such an approach has good potential to be extended for predictive use in assessing the impact of possible future changes to forest management and to develop more precise indicators of forest health.
The success of germination, growth and final yield of every crop depends to a large extent on the quality of the seeds used to grow the crop. Seed quality is defined as the viability and vigor attribute of a seed that enables the emergence and establishment of normal seedlings under a wide range of environments. We attempt to dissect the mechanisms involved in the acquisition of seed quality, through a combined approach of physiology and genetics. To achieve this goal we explored the genetic variation found in a RIL population of Solanum lycopersicum (cv. Moneymaker) x Solanum pimpinellifolium through extensive phenotyping of seed and seedling traits under both normal and nutrient stress conditions and root system architecture (RSA) traits under optimal conditions. We have identified 62 major QTLs on 21 different positions for seed, seedling and RSA traits in this population. We identified QTLs that were common across both conditions, as well as specific to stress conditions. Most of the QTLs identified for seedling traits co-located with seed size and seed weight QTLs and the positive alleles were mostly contributed by the S. lycopersicum parent. Co-location of QTLs for different traits might suggest that the same locus has pleiotropic effects on multiple traits due to a common mechanistic basis. We show that seed weight has a strong effect on seedling vigor and these results are of great importance for the isolation of the corresponding genes and elucidation of the underlying mechanisms.
Promoting the seed regeneration potential of secondary forests undergoing gap disturbances is an important approach for achieving forest restoration and sustainable management. Seedling recruitment from seed banks strongly determines the seed regeneration potential, but the process is poorly understood in the gaps of secondary forests. The objectives of the present study were to evaluate the effects of gap size, seed availability, and environmental conditions on the seed regeneration potential in temperate secondary forests. It was found that gap formation could favor the invasion of more varieties of species in seed banks, but it also could speed up the turnover rate of seed banks leading to lower seed densities. Seeds of the dominant species, Fraxinus rhynchophylla, were transient in soil and there was a minor and discontinuous contribution of the seed bank to its seedling emergence. For Quercus mongolica, emerging seedling number was positively correlated with seed density in gaps (R = 0.32, P<0.01), especially in medium and small gaps (<500 m2). Furthermore, under canopies, there was a positive correlation between seedling number and seed density of Acer mono (R = 0.43, P<0.01). Gap formation could promote seedling emergence of two gap-dependent species (i.e., Q. mongolica and A. mono), but the contribution of seed banks to seedlings was below 10% after gap creation. Soil moisture and temperature were the restrictive factors controlling the seedling emergence from seeds in gaps and under canopies, respectively. Thus, the regeneration potential from seed banks is limited after gap formation.
Background and Aims
In seeds with deep simple epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy, warm and cold stratification are required to break dormancy of the radicle and shoot, respectively. Although the shoot remains inside the seed all winter, little is known about its growth and morphological development prior to emergence in spring. The aims of the present study were to determine the temperature requirements for radicle and shoot emergence in seeds of Viburnum betulifolium and V. parvifolium and to monitor growth of the epicotyl, plumule and cotyledons in root-emerged seeds.
Fresh and pre-treated seeds of V. betulifolium and V. parvifolium were incubated under various temperature regimes and monitored for radicle and shoot emergence. Growth of the epicotyl and cotyledons at different stages was observed with dissecting and scanning electron microscopes.
The optimum temperature for radicle emergence of seeds of both species, either kept continuously at a single regime or exposed to a sequence of regimes, was 20/10 °C. GA3 had no effect on radicle emergence. Cold stratification (5 °C) was required for shoot emergence. The shoot apical meristem in fresh seeds did not form a bulge until the embryo had grown to the critical length for radicle emergence. After radicle emergence, the epicotyl–plumule and cotyledons grew slowly at 5 and 20/10 °C, and the first pair of true leaves was initiated. However, the shoot emerged only from seeds that received cold stratification.
Seeds of V. betulifolium and V. parvifolium have deep simple epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy, C1bB (root)–C3 (epicotyl). Warm stratification was required to break the first part of physiological dormancy (PD), thereby allowing embryo growth and subsequently radicle emergence. Although cold stratification was not required for differentiation of the epicotyl–plumule, it was required to break the second part of PD, thereby allowing the shoot to emerge in spring.
Epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy; epicotyl–plumule growth; radicle emergence; seed germination; shoot growth; Viburnum
In temperate ecosystems, acidic forest soils are among the most nutrient-poor terrestrial environments. In this context, the long-term differentiation of the forest soils into horizons may impact the assembly and the functions of the soil microbial communities. To gain a more comprehensive understanding of the ecology and functional potentials of these microbial communities, a suite of analyses including comparative metagenomics was applied on independent soil samples from a spruce plantation (Breuil-Chenue, France). The objectives were to assess whether the decreasing nutrient bioavailability and pH variations that naturally occurs between the organic and mineral horizons affects the soil microbial functional biodiversity. The 14 Gbp of pyrosequencing and Illumina sequences generated in this study revealed complex microbial communities dominated by bacteria. Detailed analyses showed that the organic soil horizon was significantly enriched in sequences related to Bacteria, Chordata, Arthropoda and Ascomycota. On the contrary the mineral horizon was significantly enriched in sequences related to Archaea. Our analyses also highlighted that the microbial communities inhabiting the two soil horizons differed significantly in their functional potentials according to functional assays and MG-RAST analyses, suggesting a functional specialisation of these microbial communities. Consistent with this specialisation, our shotgun metagenomic approach revealed a significant increase in the relative abundance of sequences related glycoside hydrolases in the organic horizon compared to the mineral horizon that was significantly enriched in glycoside transferases. This functional stratification according to the soil horizon was also confirmed by a significant correlation between the functional assays performed in this study and the functional metagenomic analyses. Together, our results suggest that the soil stratification and particularly the soil resource availability impact the functional diversity and to a lesser extent the taxonomic diversity of the bacterial communities.
Recent decades have seen a major surge in the study of interspecific variation in functional traits in comparative plant ecology, as a tool to understanding and predicting ecosystem functions and their responses to environmental change. However, this research has been biased almost exclusively towards vascular plants. Very little is known about the role and applicability of functional traits of non-vascular cryptogams, particularly bryophytes and lichens, with respect to biogeochemical cycling. Yet these organisms are paramount determinants of biogeochemistry in several biomes, particularly cold biomes and tropical rainforests, where they: (1) contribute substantially to above-ground biomass (lichens, bryophytes); (2) host nitrogen-fixing bacteria, providing major soil N input (lichens, bryophytes); (3) control soil chemistry and nutrition through the accumulation of recalcitrant polyphenols (bryophytes) and through their control over soil and vegetation hydrology and temperatures; (4) both promote erosion (rock weathering by lichens) and prevent it (biological crusts in deserts); (5) provide a staple food to mammals such as reindeer (lichens) and arthropodes, with important feedbacks to soils and biota; and (6) both facilitate and compete with vascular plants.
Here we review current knowledge about interspecific variation in cryptogam traits with respect to biogeochemical cycling and discuss to what extent traits and measuring protocols needed for bryophytes and lichens correspond with those applied to vascular plants. We also propose and discuss several new or recently introduced traits that may help us understand and predict the control of cryptogams over several aspects of the biogeochemistry of ecosystems.
Whilst many methodological challenges lie ahead, comparative cryptogam ecology has the potential to meet some of the important challenges of understanding and predicting the biogeochemical and climate consequences of large-scale environmental changes driving shifts in the cryptogam components of vegetation composition.
Biogeochemical processes; carbon; cryptogam; decomposition; defence; functional trait; growth rate; interspecific variation; moss; lichen; liverwort; nutrients
As the climate warms, boreal tree species are expected to be gradually replaced by temperate species within the southern boreal forest. Warming will be accompanied by changes in above- and below-ground consumers: large moose (Alces alces) replaced by smaller deer (Odocoileus virginianus) above-ground, and small detritivores replaced by larger exotic earthworms below-ground. These shifts may induce a cascade of ecological impacts across trophic levels that could alter the boreal to temperate forest transition. Deer are more likely to browse saplings of temperate tree species, and European earthworms favour seedlings of boreal tree species more than temperate species, potentially hindering the ability of temperate tree species to expand northwards. We hypothesize that warming-induced changes in consumers will lead to novel plant communities by changing the filter on plant species success, and that above- and below-ground cascades of trophic interactions will allow boreal tree species to persist during early phases of warming, leading to an abrupt change at a later time. The synthesis of evidence suggests that consumers can modify the climate change-induced transition of ecosystems.
body mass; climate warming; exotic earthworms; trophic interactions; soil food webs