271 research outputs found

    Effect of Biodiversity Changes in Disease Risk: Exploring Disease Emergence in a Plant-Virus System

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    The effect of biodiversity on the ability of parasites to infect their host and cause disease (i.e. disease risk) is a major question in pathology, which is central to understand the emergence of infectious diseases, and to develop strategies for their management. Two hypotheses, which can be considered as extremes of a continuum, relate biodiversity to disease risk: One states that biodiversity is positively correlated with disease risk (Amplification Effect), and the second predicts a negative correlation between biodiversity and disease risk (Dilution Effect). Which of them applies better to different host-parasite systems is still a source of debate, due to limited experimental or empirical data. This is especially the case for viral diseases of plants. To address this subject, we have monitored for three years the prevalence of several viruses, and virus-associated symptoms, in populations of wild pepper (chiltepin) under different levels of human management. For each population, we also measured the habitat species diversity, host plant genetic diversity and host plant density. Results indicate that disease and infection risk increased with the level of human management, which was associated with decreased species diversity and host genetic diversity, and with increased host plant density. Importantly, species diversity of the habitat was the primary predictor of disease risk for wild chiltepin populations. This changed in managed populations where host genetic diversity was the primary predictor. Host density was generally a poorer predictor of disease and infection risk. These results support the dilution effect hypothesis, and underline the relevance of different ecological factors in determining disease/infection risk in host plant populations under different levels of anthropic influence. These results are relevant for managing plant diseases and for establishing conservation policies for endangered plant species

    Nutrient Availability Controls the Impact of Mammalian Herbivores on Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Pools in Grasslands

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    Grasslands are subject to considerable alteration due to human activities globally, including widespread changes in populations and composition of large mammalian herbivores and elevated supply of nutrients. Grassland soils remain important reservoirs of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N). Herbivores may affect both C and N pools and these changes likely interact with increases in soil nutrient availability. Given the scale of grassland soil fluxes, such changes can have striking consequences for atmospheric C concentrations and the climate. Here, we use the Nutrient Network experiment to examine the responses of soil C and N pools to mammalian herbivore exclusion across 22 grasslands, under ambient and elevated nutrient availabilities (fertilized with NPK + micronutrients). We show that the impact of herbivore exclusion on soil C and N pools depends on fertilization. Under ambient nutrient conditions, we observed no effect of herbivore exclusion, but under elevated nutrient supply, pools are smaller upon herbivore exclusion. The highest mean soil C and N pools were found in grazed and fertilized plots. The decrease in soil C and N upon herbivore exclusion in combination with fertilization correlated with a decrease in aboveground plant biomass and microbial activity, indicating a reduced storage of organic matter and microbial residues as soil C and N. The response of soil C and N pools to herbivore exclusion was contingent on temperature – herbivores likely cause losses of C and N in colder sites and increases in warmer sites. Additionally, grasslands that contain mammalian herbivores have the potential to sequester more N under increased temperature variability and nutrient enrichment than ungrazed grasslands. Our study highlights the importance of conserving mammalian herbivore populations in grasslands worldwide. We need to incorporate local‐scale herbivory, and its interaction with nutrient enrichment and climate, within global‐scale models to better predict land–atmosphere interactions under future climate change

    General Destabilizing Effects of Eutrophication on Grassland Productivity at Multiple Spatial Scales

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    Eutrophication is a widespread environmental change that usually reduces the stabilizing effect of plant diversity on productivity in local communities. Whether this effect is scale dependent remains to be elucidated. Here, we determine the relationship between plant diversity and temporal stability of productivity for 243 plant communities from 42 grasslands across the globe and quantify the effect of chronic fertilization on these relationships. Unfertilized local communities with more plant species exhibit greater asynchronous dynamics among species in response to natural environmental fluctuations, resulting in greater local stability (alpha stability). Moreover, neighborhood communities that have greater spatial variation in plant species composition within sites (higher beta diversity) have greater spatial asynchrony of productivity among communities, resulting in greater stability at the larger scale (gamma stability). Importantly, fertilization consistently weakens the contribution of plant diversity to both of these stabilizing mechanisms, thus diminishing the positive effect of biodiversity on stability at differing spatial scales. Our findings suggest that preserving grassland functional stability requires conservation of plant diversity within and among ecological communities

    Herbivory and eutrophication mediate grassland plant nutrient responses across a global climatic gradient

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    Plant stoichiometry, the relative concentration of elements, is a key regulator of ecosystem functioning and is also being altered by human activities. In this paper we sought to understand the global drivers of plant stoichiometry and compare the relative contribution of climatic vs. anthropogenic effects. We addressed this goal by measuring plant elemental (C, N, P and K) responses to eutrophication and vertebrate herbivore exclusion at eighteen sites on six continents. Across sites, climate and atmospheric N deposition emerged as strong predictors of plot‐level tissue nutrients, mediated by biomass and plant chemistry. Within sites, fertilization increased total plant nutrient pools, but results were contingent on soil fertility and the proportion of grass biomass relative to other functional types. Total plant nutrient pools diverged strongly in response to herbivore exclusion when fertilized; responses were largest in ungrazed plots at low rainfall, whereas herbivore grazing dampened the plant community nutrient responses to fertilization. Our study highlights (1) the importance of climate in determining plant nutrient concentrations mediated through effects on plant biomass, (2) that eutrophication affects grassland nutrient pools via both soil and atmospheric pathways and (3) that interactions among soils, herbivores and eutrophication drive plant nutrient responses at small scales, especially at water‐limited sites

    Nutrients cause grassland biomass to outpace herbivory

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    Human activities are transforming grassland biomass via changing climate, elemental nutrients, and herbivory. Theory predicts that food-limited herbivores will consume any additional biomass stimulated by nutrient inputs ('consumer-controlled'). Alternatively, nutrient supply is predicted to increase biomass where herbivores alter community composition or are limited by factors other than food ('resource-controlled'). Using an experiment replicated in 58 grasslands spanning six continents, we show that nutrient addition and vertebrate herbivore exclusion each caused sustained increases in aboveground live biomass over a decade, but consumer control was weak. However, at sites with high vertebrate grazing intensity or domestic livestock, herbivores consumed the additional fertilization-induced biomass, supporting the consumer-controlled prediction. Herbivores most effectively reduced the additional live biomass at sites with low precipitation or high ambient soil nitrogen. Overall, these experimental results suggest that grassland biomass will outstrip wild herbivore control as human activities increase elemental nutrient supply, with widespread consequences for grazing and fire risk

    General destabilizing effects of eutrophication on grassland productivity at multiple spatial scales

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    Eutrophication is a widespread environmental change that usually reduces the stabilizing effect of plant diversity on productivity in local communities. Whether this effect is scale dependent remains to be elucidated. Here, we determine the relationship between plant diversity and temporal stability of productivity for 243 plant communities from 42 grasslands across the globe and quantify the effect of chronic fertilization on these relationships. Unfertilized local communities with more plant species exhibit greater asynchronous dynamics among species in response to natural environmental fluctuations, resulting in greater local stability (alpha stability). Moreover, neighborhood communities that have greater spatial variation in plant species composition within sites (higher beta diversity) have greater spatial asynchrony of productivity among communities, resulting in greater stability at the larger scale (gamma stability). Importantly, fertilization consistently weakens the contribution of plant diversity to both of these stabilizing mechanisms, thus diminishing the positive effect of biodiversity on stability at differing spatial scales. Our findings suggest that preserving grassland functional stability requires conservation of plant diversity within and among ecological communities

    Expert perspectives on global biodiversity loss and its drivers and impacts on people

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    Despite substantial progress in understanding global biodiversity loss, major taxonomic and geographic knowledge gaps remain. Decision makers often rely on expert judgement to fill knowledge gaps, but are rarely able to engage with sufficiently large and diverse groups of specialists. To improve understanding of the perspectives of thousands of biodiversity experts worldwide, we conducted a survey and asked experts to focus on the taxa and freshwater, terrestrial, or marine ecosystem with which they are most familiar. We found several points of overwhelming consensus (for instance, multiple drivers of biodiversity loss interact synergistically) and important demographic and geographic differences in specialists’ perspectives and estimates. Experts from groups that are underrepresented in biodiversity science, including women and those from the Global South, recommended different priorities for conservation solutions, with less emphasis on acquiring new protected areas, and provided higher estimates of biodiversity loss and its impacts. This may in part be because they disproportionately study the most highly threatened taxa and habitats

    Nutrient Enrichment and Food Web Composition Affect Ecosystem Metabolism in an Experimental Seagrass Habitat

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    Food web composition and resource levels can influence ecosystem properties such as productivity and elemental cycles. In particular, herbivores occupy a central place in food webs as the species richness and composition of this trophic level may simultaneously influence the transmission of resource and predator effects to higher and lower trophic levels, respectively. Yet, these interactions are poorly understood.Using an experimental seagrass mesocosm system, we factorially manipulated water column nutrient concentrations, food chain length, and diversity of crustacean grazers to address two questions: (1) Does food web composition modulate the effects of nutrient enrichment on plant and grazer biomasses and stoichiometry? (2) Do ecosystem fluxes of dissolved oxygen and nutrients more closely reflect above-ground biomass and community structure or sediment processes? Nutrient enrichment and grazer presence generally had strong effects on biomass accumulation, stoichiometry, and ecosystem fluxes, whereas predator effects were weaker or absent. Nutrient enrichment had little effect on producer biomass or net ecosystem production but strongly increased seagrass nutrient content, ecosystem flux rates, and grazer secondary production, suggesting that enhanced production was efficiently transferred from producers to herbivores. Gross ecosystem production (oxygen evolution) correlated positively with above-ground plant biomass, whereas inorganic nutrient fluxes were unrelated to plant or grazer biomasses, suggesting dominance by sediment microbial processes. Finally, grazer richness significantly stabilized ecosystem processes, as predators decreased ecosystem production and respiration only in the zero- and one- species grazer treatments.Overall, our results indicate that consumer presence and species composition strongly influence ecosystem responses to nutrient enrichment, and that increasing herbivore diversity can stabilize ecosystem flux rates in the face of perturbations

    Jet energy measurement with the ATLAS detector in proton-proton collisions at root s=7 TeV

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    The jet energy scale and its systematic uncertainty are determined for jets measured with the ATLAS detector at the LHC in proton-proton collision data at a centre-of-mass energy of √s = 7TeV corresponding to an integrated luminosity of 38 pb-1. Jets are reconstructed with the anti-kt algorithm with distance parameters R=0. 4 or R=0. 6. Jet energy and angle corrections are determined from Monte Carlo simulations to calibrate jets with transverse momenta pT≥20 GeV and pseudorapidities {pipe}η{pipe}<4. 5. The jet energy systematic uncertainty is estimated using the single isolated hadron response measured in situ and in test-beams, exploiting the transverse momentum balance between central and forward jets in events with dijet topologies and studying systematic variations in Monte Carlo simulations. The jet energy uncertainty is less than 2. 5 % in the central calorimeter region ({pipe}η{pipe}<0. 8) for jets with 60≤pT<800 GeV, and is maximally 14 % for pT<30 GeV in the most forward region 3. 2≤{pipe}η{pipe}<4. 5. The jet energy is validated for jet transverse momenta up to 1 TeV to the level of a few percent using several in situ techniques by comparing a well-known reference such as the recoiling photon pT, the sum of the transverse momenta of tracks associated to the jet, or a system of low-pT jets recoiling against a high-pT jet. More sophisticated jet calibration schemes are presented based on calorimeter cell energy density weighting or hadronic properties of jets, aiming for an improved jet energy resolution and a reduced flavour dependence of the jet response. The systematic uncertainty of the jet energy determined from a combination of in situ techniques is consistent with the one derived from single hadron response measurements over a wide kinematic range. The nominal corrections and uncertainties are derived for isolated jets in an inclusive sample of high-pT jets. Special cases such as event topologies with close-by jets, or selections of samples with an enhanced content of jets originating from light quarks, heavy quarks or gluons are also discussed and the corresponding uncertainties are determined. © 2013 CERN for the benefit of the ATLAS collaboration
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