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Ecologies, Volume 2, Issue 1 (March 2021) – 10 articles

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Article
Effects of Water Content and Mesh Size on Tea Bag Decomposition
Ecologies 2021, 2(1), 175-186; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ecologies2010010 - 19 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 497
Abstract
The tea bag method provides a replicable and standardized method to study the effect of environmental variables on the decomposition of standard litter, which enables comparison of organic matter decomposition rates on a large scale. However, it remains uncertain whether tea bag decomposition [...] Read more.
The tea bag method provides a replicable and standardized method to study the effect of environmental variables on the decomposition of standard litter, which enables comparison of organic matter decomposition rates on a large scale. However, it remains uncertain whether tea bag decomposition in response to wetness is representative of that of local litters. We performed incubation experiments to examine whether the effect of soil water on tea bag decomposition becomes inhibitory at higher water contents, as is the case in local leaf litters. In addition, we performed field studies in a mixed forest and cedar plantation in Japan to compare two litter bag mesh sizes: 0.25-mm mesh, the size previously used by a major manufacturer of tea bags (Lipton), and nonwoven bags with mesh sizes finer than 0.25 mm, which are currently produced by Lipton. Both green tea and rooibos tea exhibited higher decomposition rates at higher water contents, but decomposition was inhibited at the highest water content; this was in contrast to our hypothesis based on a field observation but consistent with conceptual models of local litters. The nonwoven tea bags did not show lower decomposition rates, despite the finer mesh size. Rather, the nonwoven rooibos tea bags exhibited slightly higher decomposition rates than the 0.25-mm mesh bags in the cedar plantation, possibly due to a greater abundance of microorganisms that decompose litters in the nonwoven bags, due to the decrease in predation by mesofauna. Our findings provide essential information for future studies of tea bag decomposition. Full article
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Article
Plant Diversity in Sardinian Mountain Rangelands: Analysis of Its Relationships with Grazing, Land Management, and Pastoral Value
Ecologies 2021, 2(1), 164-174; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ecologies2010009 - 04 Mar 2021
Viewed by 524
Abstract
In this study, we analyzed the effects of grazing on native and endemic plant diversity, as well as its relationship with pastoral value along a gradient of abiotic and biotic factors and types of land management in a mountainous area of central-eastern Sardinia, [...] Read more.
In this study, we analyzed the effects of grazing on native and endemic plant diversity, as well as its relationship with pastoral value along a gradient of abiotic and biotic factors and types of land management in a mountainous area of central-eastern Sardinia, Italy. Plant diversity was estimated by conducting a floristic survey within plots. In total, 231 plant species were recorded in 63 plots distributed within the study area, and this total number included 20 endemic species. Species richness was mainly affected by the type of management, soil attributes, altitude, and bioclimate. Pastoral value was strongly affected by nutrient availability and bioclimate. Our results suggest that the cover of endemic species increases with altitude. Finally, in Sardinian rangelands, a negative effect of grazing pressure on endemic species was observed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Ecologies 2021)
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Article
Response of the Zygopteran Community (Odonata: Insecta) to Change in Environmental Integrity Driven by Urbanization in Eastern Amazonian Streams
Ecologies 2021, 2(1), 150-163; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ecologies2010008 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 771
Abstract
The accelerated and disordered growth of large urban centers has caused a significant loss of biodiversity and the negative effects are more significant in aquatic environments. Thus, the objective of this study is to assess the effects of environmental change due to urbanization [...] Read more.
The accelerated and disordered growth of large urban centers has caused a significant loss of biodiversity and the negative effects are more significant in aquatic environments. Thus, the objective of this study is to assess the effects of environmental change due to urbanization in the abundance and biomass patterns of species belonging to the Zygoptera suborder. We tested the hypothesis that, in altered streams, there will be a predominance of organisms with fast growth and small biomass (r-strategists), and intermediate streams will have an overlapping of r and k-strategists. In control streams, there will be a predominance of k-strategists, with slow growth, decreased abundance, and high biomass. Urban expansion in Amazonian streams will cause loss of Zygoptera species richness. Streams draining urban areas will have higher air temperatures than control streams. Thus, small-sized and less abundant species will be favored. We sampled 15 streams in the metropolitan area of Belém. Sites were classified, using the index of physical habitat integrity, as control, intermediate and altered. Comparisons between biomass and abundance were analyzed using W Statistics. Our analyses showed that: the effects of urbanization cause loss of k-strategists and favors r-strategists, once abundance was placed above biomass; in intermediate environments, contrary to what we expected, there was no overlapping of strategies, once r-strategists were also placed above k-strategists; in control environments, biomass was placed above abundance, suggesting these environments have a predominance of k-strategist species, as we suggested; and we observed increased levels of temperature favor the most abundant species, the ones having generalist biological mechanisms; however, contrary to what we expected, there was no difference in richness. With these results, we reinforce the need for public policies to create or maintain the riparian forest along streams running through urban areas and create or maintain urban parks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Ecologies 2021)
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Article
Temporary Water Holes May Benefit the Breeding of the Common Skipper Frog Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis (Anura: Dicroglossidae)
Ecologies 2021, 2(1), 138-149; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ecologies2010007 - 05 Feb 2021
Viewed by 962
Abstract
Seasonal fluctuations in adult Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis density were recorded in two permanent ponds in Southeastern Bangladesh. From a two-year dataset of seven habitat parameters, the seasonal suitability of two different pond habitats was examined to understand these fluctuations of frog density. The combined [...] Read more.
Seasonal fluctuations in adult Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis density were recorded in two permanent ponds in Southeastern Bangladesh. From a two-year dataset of seven habitat parameters, the seasonal suitability of two different pond habitats was examined to understand these fluctuations of frog density. The combined influence of the parameters on the density was significant in all three seasons. One combination was found to be optimal: water temperature of 24 °C, a pH of approximately 6, and a water depth of 2.29 m. These conditions supported more than 24 frogs per acre in the round pond. In the forestry pond, the optimal parameters were a water temperature of 27 °C and a water depth of less than 1 m, which accommodated 27 frogs per acre. The result indicates that a slight increase in any of these parameters was found to sharply lower the accommodation capacity of the studied ponds to less than half of the aforesaid densities, especially in the rainy season. During this season, the adults were found to breed in the small waterholes adjacent to the ponds. This may be the response of anuran to temporal unsuitability, for example, the depth of water and the pH of the permanent ponds. Full article
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Review
Safety Bubbles: A Review of the Proposed Functions of Froth Nesting among Anuran Amphibians
Ecologies 2021, 2(1), 112-137; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ecologies2010006 - 04 Feb 2021
Viewed by 529
Abstract
The adults of several anuran amphibian species deposit their eggs externally in mucus secretions that are purposely aerated to produce a froth nest. This type of clutch structure has evolved independently several times in this group and has been proposed to serve a [...] Read more.
The adults of several anuran amphibian species deposit their eggs externally in mucus secretions that are purposely aerated to produce a froth nest. This type of clutch structure has evolved independently several times in this group and has been proposed to serve a variety and often simultaneous adaptive functions associated with protecting offspring from sub-optimal conditions during embryogenesis and later stages after hatching has occurred. These functions range from buffering offspring from sub-optimal temperatures and desiccation, to defending against predation and improving oxygenation. This versatility has likely helped facilitate the reduced reliance of egg development on water and thus the penetration of anurans into environments where permanent aquatic systems are not always available. In this paper, I review the hypothesised functions of the anuran froth nest as a mucus-based solution to the environmental challenges offspring face during development, with consideration of the functions of froth nest breakdown and communal froth nesting, as well. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Ecologies 2021)
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Article
The Subnival Vegetation of Moquegua, South Peru: Chasmophytes, Grasslands and Cushion Communities
Ecologies 2021, 2(1), 71-111; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ecologies2010005 - 20 Jan 2021
Viewed by 902
Abstract
The present work is a phytosociological synthesis and syntaxonomic overview of the vegetation of the highest subnival parts (superpuna) of the open alpine vegetation of the high plateaus (puna) of the Andes of Moquegua, South West Peru, as related to the main environmental [...] Read more.
The present work is a phytosociological synthesis and syntaxonomic overview of the vegetation of the highest subnival parts (superpuna) of the open alpine vegetation of the high plateaus (puna) of the Andes of Moquegua, South West Peru, as related to the main environmental gradients. Using TWINSPAN and DCA ordination analysis, 153 phytosociological relevés were analyzed. For each association, subassociation and community, the syntaxonomy, floristic diversity and relation with environmental variables are described. The syntaxonomy and synecology of superpuna vegetation was studied in 19 localities at an altitude of 4450–4800 m. The study area has a pluviseasonal climate with yearly rainfall (December-April). Four main highland vegetation types were distinguished: 1. slope and scree chasmophyte vegetation composed of shrubs, cushions, ground rosettes and grasses, 2. grasslands (grazed and ungrazed) characterized by great species richness in shrubs, cushions, ground rosettes, grasses and herbs, 3. vegetation of plateaus with cushions, shrubs, ground rosettes, herbs and grasses and 4. nitrophilous vegetation with high cover and low species richness. Within the vegetation of the orotropical and cryorotropical bioclimatic belts three phytosociological classes can be distinguished: Argyrochosmetea niveae (chasmophytic vegetation), Calamagrostietea vicunarum (grasslands with cushions), Anthochloo lepidulae-Dielsiochloetea floribundae (highland slopes and plateaus) and a nitrophylous community. One new association from rock and scree slopes was described within the Saxifragion magellanicae (Argyrochosmetea niveae). Within the Calamagrostion minimae, which comprises grasslands with cushions and mat-forming plants, one new association with two subassociations could be distinguished. Within the grassland and cushion associations of the Azorello-Festucion (Calamagrostietea vicunarum), three new associations were described, comprising nine subassociations. In the Anthochloo-Dielsiochloetalia one new and one previously described association and one community are distinguished. In addition, the nitrophilous community of Tarasa nototrichoides and Urtica flabellata has been described. In total the vegetation comprised 172 vascular species belonging to 32 families. Our study provides the first syntaxonomic revision of chasmophytes, cushion associations and high-altitude grasslands in the Andes of North Moquegua. The proposed syntaxonomic scheme contains the associations distributed under similar habitat conditions throughout the Southern Andes of Peru, but also the associations reflecting the local floristic and environmental patterns. The subnival vegetation of Moquegua hosts some rare endangered and/or protected plant species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Ecologies 2021)
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Review
Acquisition of Adaptive Traits via Interspecific Association: Ecological Consequences and Applications
Ecologies 2021, 2(1), 43-70; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ecologies2010004 - 08 Jan 2021
Viewed by 885
Abstract
Adaptative traits enable organisms to survive and reproduce. Though these traits are often innate features (ones that may or may not exhibit variability in response to environmental cues or originate from horizontal gene transfer), this is not always the case. Many species endure [...] Read more.
Adaptative traits enable organisms to survive and reproduce. Though these traits are often innate features (ones that may or may not exhibit variability in response to environmental cues or originate from horizontal gene transfer), this is not always the case. Many species endure natural selection not with the traits they possess intrinsically but with exogenous substances and abilities that they acquire from other species, via ecological interactions akin to outsourcing, pillaging, and fraud. Here, I review the mechanisms of this exogenous trait acquisition and highlight some of their repercussions and usefulness for natural resource management, industry, and human health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Ecologies 2021)
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Article
Distribution of Five Aquatic Plants Native to South America and Invasive Elsewhere under Current Climate
Ecologies 2021, 2(1), 27-42; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ecologies2010003 - 07 Jan 2021
Viewed by 742
Abstract
Biological invasions and climate pose two of the most important challenges facing global biodiversity. Certainly, climate change may intensify the impacts of invasion by allowing invasive plants to increase in abundance and further expand their ranges. For example, most aquatic alien plants in [...] Read more.
Biological invasions and climate pose two of the most important challenges facing global biodiversity. Certainly, climate change may intensify the impacts of invasion by allowing invasive plants to increase in abundance and further expand their ranges. For example, most aquatic alien plants in temperate climate are of tropical and subtropical origins and the northern limits of their ranges are generally determined by minimum winter temperatures, and they will probably expand their distributions northwards if climate warms. The distribution of five invasive aquatic plants in freshwater systems across continents were investigated. Their global distributions in the current climate were modeled using a recently developed ensemble species distribution model approach, specifically designed to account for dispersal constraints on the distributions of range-expanding species. It was found that the species appear capable of substantial range expansion, and that low winter temperature is the strongest factor limiting their invasion. These findings can be used to identify areas at risk of recently introduction of neophytes, and develop future monitoring programs for aquatic ecosystems, prioritizing control efforts, which enables the effective use of ecological niche models to forecast aquatic invasion in other geographic regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Ecologies 2021)
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Article
Niche Partitioning at Emergence of Two Syntopic Dragonflies
Ecologies 2021, 2(1), 16-26; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ecologies2010002 - 03 Jan 2021
Viewed by 837
Abstract
We investigated the ecological requirements in the emergence phase of two congeneric species of Aeshnidae, Aeshna grandis (Linnaeus 1758) and A. juncea (Linnaeus 1758), occurring in syntopy at the southernmost limit of their range. We sampled the exuviae of the two species at [...] Read more.
We investigated the ecological requirements in the emergence phase of two congeneric species of Aeshnidae, Aeshna grandis (Linnaeus 1758) and A. juncea (Linnaeus 1758), occurring in syntopy at the southernmost limit of their range. We sampled the exuviae of the two species at the peak of their emergence in three lakes in NW Italy. In each lake we defined 30 to 50 sampling plots along the lake borders where we checked for the presence of exuviae and collected data on the microhabitat composition. By modeling the response of the exuviae presence and abundance against the environmental parameters, we could highlight a partial differentiation in the ecological requirements of the two species at emergence. In particular, A. grandis is more influenced by the structure of the aquatic vegetation than A. juncea and the niche space occupied by A. grandis is wider, almost totally encompassing the one of A. juncea. We argue that A. grandis exploits microhabitats rich in aquatic plants to avoid competition with A. juncea. We suggest the preservation of well-structured aquatic vegetation as a key management practice to preserve the three studied populations of A. grandis, a species which has been recognized as Vulnerable for Italy according to the IUCN criteria. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Ecologies 2021)
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Article
Do Agrochemical-Free Paddy Fields Serve as Refuge Habitats for Odonata?
Ecologies 2021, 2(1), 1-15; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ecologies2010001 - 31 Dec 2020
Viewed by 1685
Abstract
Agrochemical-free rice farming has attracted interest for restoring paddy field biodiversity and producing safe food. Odonata are commonly used as a biodiversity indicator in these low-input farms. However, the effect of agrochemical-free rice farming on odonate diversity has rarely been assessed over the [...] Read more.
Agrochemical-free rice farming has attracted interest for restoring paddy field biodiversity and producing safe food. Odonata are commonly used as a biodiversity indicator in these low-input farms. However, the effect of agrochemical-free rice farming on odonate diversity has rarely been assessed over the entire emergence period of these insects. We investigated whether different farming practices, such as conventional or natural (agrochemical-and fertilizer-free) cultivation, and associated water management strategies affect the emergence rates of Odonata in paddy field landscapes in central Japan. Weekly exuviae sampling in 2017 and 2019 suggested that odonate assemblages differed between conventional and natural paddy fields, with a higher number of taxa emerging from natural paddy fields. Contrary to expectations, conventional paddy fields had equivalent or higher emergence rates of all Odonata and two numerically dominant Sympetrum species. Peak emergence periods for numerically dominant taxa differed between the farming types, with the emergence of three Sympetrum species peaking in late June in conventional paddy fields and that of S. frequens peaking in early to mid-July in natural paddy fields. Our findings suggest that both conventional and natural paddy fields are important habitats for Odonata in Japan. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Ecologies 2021)
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