Project description:Species assemblages are the results of various processes, including dispersion and habitat filtering. Disentangling the effects of these different processes is challenging for statistical analysis, especially when biotic interactions should be considered. In this study, we used plants (producers) and leafhoppers (phytophagous) as model organisms, and we investigated the relative importance of abiotic versus biotic factors that shape community assemblages, and we infer on their biotic interactions by applying three-step statistical analysis. We applied a novel statistical analysis, that is, multiblock Redundancy Analysis (mbRA, step 1) and showed that 51.8% and 54.1% of the overall variation in plant and leafhopper assemblages are, respectively, explained by the two multiblock models. The most important blocks of variables to explain the variations in plant and leafhopper assemblages were local topography and biotic factors. Variation partitioning analysis (step 2) showed that pure abiotic filtering and pure biotic processes were relatively less important than their combinations, suggesting that biotic relationships are strongly structured by abiotic conditions. Pairwise co-occurrence analysis (step 3) on generalist leafhoppers and the most common plants identified 40 segregated species pairs (mainly between plant species) and 16 aggregated pairs (mainly between leafhopper species). Pairwise analysis on specialist leafhoppers and potential host plants clearly revealed aggregated patterns. Plant segregation suggests heterogeneous resource availability and competitive interactions, while leafhopper aggregation suggests host feeding differentiation at the local level, different feeding microhabitats on host plants, and similar environmental requirements of the species. Using the novel mbRA, we disentangle for the first time the relative importance of more than five distinct groups of variables shaping local species communities. We highlighted the important role of abiotic processes mediated by bottom-up effects of plants on leafhopper communities. Our results revealed that in-field structure diversification and trophic interactions are the main factors causing the co-occurrence patterns observed.
Project description:Microorganisms play a crucial role in biogeochemical cycles and ecosystem processes, but the key factors driving microbial community structure are poorly understood, particularly in alpine environments. In this study, we aim to disentangle the relative contribution of abiotic and biotic factors shaping bacterial and fungal community structure at large and small spatial and integration scales in an alpine system dominated by a stress-tolerant cushion species Thylacospermum ceaspitosum. These effects were assessed in two mountain ranges of northwest China and for two contrasting phenotypes of the cushion species inhabiting two different microtopographic positions. The large- and small-scale abiotic effects include the site and microhabitat effects, respectively, while the large- and small-scale biotic effects include the effects of cushion presence and cushion phenotype, respectively. Soil microbial communities were characterized by Illumina Miseq sequencing. Uni- and multivariate statistics were used to test the effects of abiotic and biotic factors at both scales. Results indicated that the site effect representing the soil pH and abiotic hydrothermal conditions mainly affected bacterial community structure, whereas fungal community structure was mainly affected by biotic factors with an equal contribution of cushion presence and cushion phenotype effects. Future studies should analyze the direct factors contributing to shaping microbial community structure in particular of the cushion phenotypes.
Project description:Climate change is expected to increase climate variability and the occurrence of extreme climatic events, with potentially devastating effects on aquatic ecosystems. However, little is known about the role of climate extremes in structuring aquatic communities or the interplay between climate and local abiotic and biotic factors. Here, we examine the relative influence of climate and local abiotic and biotic conditions on biodiversity and community structure in lake invertebrates. We sampled aquatic invertebrates and measured environmental variables in 19 lakes throughout California, USA, to test hypotheses of the relationship between climate, local biotic and environmental conditions, and the taxonomic and functional structure of aquatic invertebrate communities. We found that, while local biotic and abiotic factors such as habitat availability and conductivity were the most consistent predictors of alpha diversity, extreme climate conditions such as maximum summer temperature and dry-season precipitation were most often associated with multivariate taxonomic and functional composition. Specifically, sites with high maximum temperatures and low dry-season precipitation housed communities containing high abundances of large predatory taxa. Furthermore, both climate dissimilarity and abiotic dissimilarity determined taxonomic turnover among sites (beta diversity). These findings suggest that while local-scale environmental variables may predict alpha diversity, climatic variability is important to consider when projecting broad-scale aquatic community responses to the extreme temperature and precipitation events that are expected for much of the world during the next century.
Project description:Archaeorhizomycetes, a widespread fungal class with a dominant presence in many soil environments, contains cryptic filamentous species forming plant-root associations whose role in terrestrial ecosystems remains unclear. Here, we apply a correlative approach to identify the abiotic and biotic environmental variables shaping the distribution of this fungal group. We used a DNA sequencing dataset containing Archaeorhizomycetes sequences and environmental variables from 103 sites, obtained through a random-stratified sampling in the Western Swiss Alps along a wide elevation gradient (>2,500 m). We observed that the relative abundance of Archaeorhizomycetes follows a "humped-shaped" curve. Fitted linear and quadratic generalized linear models revealed that both climatic (minimum temperature, precipitation sum, growing degree-days) and edaphic (carbon, hydrogen, organic carbon, aluminum oxide, and phyllosilicates) factors contribute to explaining the variation in Archaeorhizomycetes abundance. Furthermore, a network inference topology described significant co-abundance patterns between Archaeorhizomycetes and other saprotrophic and ectomycorrhizal fungal taxa. Overall, our results provide strong support to the hypothesis that Archaeorhizomycetes in this area have clear ecological requirements along wide, elevation-driven abiotic and biotic gradients. Additionally, correlations to soil redox parameters, particularly with phyllosilicates minerals, suggest Archaeorhizomycetes might be implied in biological rock weathering. Such soil taxa-environment studies along wide gradients are thus a useful complement to latitudinal field observations and culture-based approaches to uncover the ecological roles of cryptic soil organisms.
Project description:Broad-scale studies have improved our ability to make predictions about how freshwater biotic and abiotic properties will respond to changes in climate and land use intensification. Further, fine-scaled studies of lakes, wetlands, or streams have documented the important role of hydrologic connections for understanding many freshwater biotic and abiotic processes. However, lakes, wetlands, and streams are typically studied in isolation of one another at both fine and broad scales. Therefore, it is not known whether these three freshwater types (lakes, wetlands, and streams) respond similarly to ecosystem and watershed drivers nor how they may respond to future global stresses. In this study, we asked, do lake, wetland, and stream biotic and abiotic properties respond to similar ecosystem and watershed drivers and have similar spatial structure at the national scale? We answered this question with three U.S. conterminous data sets of freshwater ecosystems. We used random forest (RF) analysis to quantify the multi-scaled drivers related to variation in nutrients and biota in lakes, wetlands, and streams simultaneously; we used semivariogram analysis to quantify the spatial structure of biotic and abiotic properties and to infer possible mechanisms controlling the ecosystem properties of these freshwater types. We found that abiotic properties responded to similar drivers, had large ranges of spatial autocorrelation, and exhibited multi-scale spatial structure, regardless of freshwater type. However, the dominant drivers of variation in biotic properties depended on freshwater type and had smaller ranges of spatial autocorrelation. Our study is the first to document that drivers and spatial structure differ more between biotic and abiotic variables than across freshwater types, suggesting that some properties of freshwater ecosystems may respond similarly to future global changes.
Project description:Changes in climate variables have an important impact on the prediction and protection of elevational biodiversity. Gaps exist in our understanding of the elevational distribution patterns in seed plant species richness. Our study examines the importance of climate variables in shaping the elevational variation in species richness. The importance of boundary constraint was also taken into account. Model selection based on Akaike's information criterion was used to select the best explaining climate models. Variation partitioning was used to assess the independent and joint effects of water-energy, physiological tolerance, and environmental stability variables on species richness. Our results revealed that: (a) Both raw (boundary constraint unreduced) and estimated (boundary constraint reduced) species richness showed large elevational variation, with the peak species richness seen at midelevations. The environmental variables were better at explaining the distribution pattern of species richness along the elevation, when the effect of boundary constraint was reduced; (b) the physiological tolerance and environmental stability variables explained more variation in raw and estimated species richness compared with the water-energy variables. Estimated species richness was better explained (98.6%) by the environmental variables than raw species richness (94%); (c) the water-related variables generally had the highest independent effect on raw and estimated species richness and were dominant in shaping the elevational variation in species richness. Our findings quantify the influence of boundary constraint on the distribution pattern of species along an altitudinal gradient and compare the relative contributions of environmental stability and water-energy in explaining the altitude gradient distribution pattern of plant seed species.
Project description:Lakes are a natural source of methane to the atmosphere and contribute significantly to total emissions compared to the oceans. Controls on methane emissions from lake surfaces, particularly biotic processes within anoxic hypolimnia, are only partially understood. Here we investigated biological methane oxidation in the water column of the seasonally stratified Lake Rotsee. A zone of methane oxidation extending from the oxic/anoxic interface into anoxic waters was identified by chemical profiling of oxygen, methane and ?13C of methane. Incubation experiments with 13C-methane yielded highest oxidation rates within the oxycline, and comparable rates were measured in anoxic waters. Despite predominantly anoxic conditions within the zone of methane oxidation, known groups of anaerobic methanotrophic archaea were conspicuously absent. Instead, aerobic gammaproteobacterial methanotrophs were identified as the active methane oxidizers. In addition, continuous oxidation and maximum rates always occurred under light conditions. These findings, along with the detection of chlorophyll a, suggest that aerobic methane oxidation is tightly coupled to light-dependent photosynthetic oxygen production both at the oxycline and in the anoxic bottom layer. It is likely that this interaction between oxygenic phototrophs and aerobic methanotrophs represents a widespread mechanism by which methane is oxidized in lake water, thus diminishing its release into the atmosphere.
Project description:There has been increasing interest in algae-based bioassessment, particularly, trait-based approaches are increasingly suggested. However, the main drivers, especially the contribution of hydrological variables, of species composition, trait composition, and beta diversity of algae communities are less studied. To link species and trait composition to multiple factors (i.e., hydrological variables, local environmental variables, and spatial factors) that potentially control species occurrence/abundance and to determine their relative roles in shaping species composition, trait composition, and beta diversities of pelagic algae communities, samples were collected from a German lowland catchment, where a well-proven ecohydrological modeling enabled to predict long-term discharges at each sampling site. Both trait and species composition showed significant correlations with hydrological, environmental, and spatial variables, and variation partitioning revealed that the hydrological and local environmental variables outperformed spatial variables. A higher variation of trait composition (57.0%) than species composition (37.5%) could be explained by abiotic factors. Mantel tests showed that both species and trait-based beta diversities were mostly related to hydrological and environmental heterogeneity with hydrological contributing more than environmental variables, while purely spatial impact was less important. Our findings revealed the relative importance of hydrological variables in shaping pelagic algae community and their spatial patterns of beta diversities, emphasizing the need to include hydrological variables in long-term biomonitoring campaigns and biodiversity conservation or restoration. A key implication for biodiversity conservation was that maintaining the instream flow regime and keeping various habitats among rivers are of vital importance. However, further investigations at multispatial and temporal scales are greatly needed.