Friday, 12 March 2010

F1000 review - candidates for April

Already Ive come across some likely candidates for our next f1000 review, so I thought Id post the articles I find this month prior to meeting up with Mark Lonsdale to choose our favourite for review...
Managing plant symbiosis: fungal endophyte genotype alters plant community composition Jennifer A. Rudgers, Susan Fischer, Keith Clay Journal of Applied Ecology,Volume 47 Issue 2 (April 2010) pp 468-477 
DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01788.x
I came across this in Nature News: Applied ecology: Grass and the X factor (Nature 464, 172 (11 March 2010) | doi:10.1038/464172b) This is an interesting article as it takes the examination of genotypes and their impacts on plant community composition one step further, by testing whether genotypes of plant symbionts influence plant community composition. The plant they examine is Tall Fescue, an invasive grass species.  Their findings therefore have applications for conserving wild and unmanaged grassland habitats and for managing agronomic systems to reduce the spread of invasive plants.

An Experimental Test of Darwin’s Naturalization Hypothesis Lin Jiang, Jiaqi Tan, and Zhichao Pu
The American Naturalist, vol. 175, no. 4 (April 2010) pp. 415–423 DOI: 10.1086/650720
The authors conduct an experiment to test Darwin's hypothesis which posits that naturalization of nonnative species is more likely in communities in which their close relatives are absent (Darwin,1859).  Although field observations have tested this hypothesis before, they have been on exotics in relatively complex communities at a large spatial scale, and were influenced by confounding factors such as habitat suitability.  Thus the paper claims to be the first experimental test of the hypothesis, by subjecting simple microbial communities containing one or multiple species of naturally co-occurring bacteria with and without a bacterivorous protist species to the invasion of an alien bacterial species.  The experiments turn out in favour of the hypothesis, though the generality of their findings is not clear. 

Use of Abundance of One Species as a Surrogate for Abundance of Others  Samuel Cushman, Kevin McKelvey, Barry Noon and Kevin McGarigal Conservation Biology Early View Published Online: 7 Jan 2010 DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01396.x
Although a little off-topic, I like this paper as it adds weight to the evidence that the use of 'indicator', 'keystone' and 'umbrella' species in conservation biology is controversial at best. The conclusions offer guidance to the monitoring and conservation of ecosystems, as the results suggest that certain types of surrogacy are unlikely to reliably exist. For example, groups formed on the basis of migratory status, microhabitat association, and functional group did not receive any support. 

Productivity, herbivory, and species traits rather than diversity influence invasibility of experimental phytoplankton communities Erik Sperfeld, Andrea Schmidtke, Ursula Gaedke and Guntram Weithoff Oecologia DOI 10.1007/s00442-010-1594-4 Early View Published Online: 7 Mar 2010
This paper examines experimentally how invasibility of a community is affected by the interplay of (1) productivity of the habitat, (2) diversity, (3) herbivory, and (4) the characteristics of both invasive and resident species.  They experimented with aquatic microcosms to test the relative influence of these factors.  Their conclusions are: Invasibility was not affected by species richness; instead, it was driven by the functional
traits of the resident and/or invasive species mediated by herbivore density. Overall, herbivory was the driving factor for invasibility of phytoplankton communities, which implies that other factors affecting the intensity of herbivory (e.g., productivity or edibility of primary producers) indirectly influence invasions.

Experimental species removal alters ecological dynamics in a natural ecosystem Wootton, JT ECOLOGY, 91 (1): 42-48; JAN 2010
A long standing theory on species invasions is that they can affect the temporal dynamics of ecological communities by altering feedback patterns and species interactions.  However, novel experimental evidence from an inter-tidal community given in this paper shows that the main impact of the removal of the dominant species in the system is amplified environmental stochasticity, rather than changed feedback pathways as is emphasized in most theoretical predictions and laboratory studies.

Ultraviolet radiation affects invasibility of lake ecosystems by warm-water fish
Andrew J. Tucker et al.  Ecology March 2010, Vol. 91, No. 3: 882-890.
The authors examine how underwater UVR is regulating the success of a warm-water fish invasion of exotic bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) in Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada, USA. They find that the water quality has an impact on the ability of the bluegill sunfish to survive, though other factors such as a species' own ability to adapt are important in general terms.  Other studies have shown that UVR can have an important influence on species distribution and community composition.  This article now shows that UVR along with other abiotic factors in aquatic systems is potentially also an important control on the invasibility of the system.

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