• Issue
    Volume 110, Issue 4
    April 2022


Free Access

Cover Picture and Issue Information

  • Pages: 741-743
  • First Published: 11 April 2022
Description unavailable

Cover image: Ginkgo biloba is one of the world's most distinctive trees with an important position in plant evolution and human society. This image shows the diversity of leaf morphology from the fallen leaves of a single Ginkgo biloba tree, located in monitored plots at the Zijingang Campus, Zhejiang University, China. The morphology remarkably differs in blade shape, size, lobe, margin, and petiole length. Photograph by Yun-Peng Zhao. For full details see pages 951–982.


Extinction, climate change and the ecology of Homo sapiens

  • Pages: 744-750
  • First Published: 27 January 2022
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Solutions to global extinction and climate change problems must be equitable, ethical, economically viable and societally sustainable. Equitability will require reduction of excess consumption in wealthy countries (figure). To achieve solutions, ecologists will increasingly need to be part of multidisciplinary teams that evaluate the full range of interlinked environmental and societal impacts associated with alternative potential policies.


Editor's Choice

Open Access

Pre-dispersal seed predation could help explain premature fruit drop in a tropical forest

  • Pages: 751-761
  • First Published: 07 March 2022
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Premature fruit drop is likely to be a major source of seed mortality for many plant species on Barro Colorado Island. It is plausible that pre-dispersal seed enemies, such as insect seed predators, contribute to community-level patterns of premature fruit drop and have the potential to mediate species coexistence through stabilising negative density dependence. Graphical abstract created with BioRender.com.

Editor's Choice

Variation in biotic interactions mediates the effects of masting and rainfall fluctuations on seedling demography in a subtropical rainforest

  • Pages: 762-771
  • First Published: 27 December 2021
Description unavailable

Using data from 12,830 seedlings collected over 17 years in a subtropical rainforest, our study supports predictions of the Economy of Scale hypothesis, providing support for the expectations that higher seed production is reflected in higher recruitment success over the first year. We also found significant influence of rainfall fluctuations on biotic interactions. Climate changes might significantly affect future forest dynamics and composition through altering biotic interactions.

Precipitation and nitrogen deposition alter biocrust–vascular plant coexistence in a desert ecosystem: Threshold and mechanisms

  • Pages: 772-783
  • First Published: 25 December 2021
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In a precipitation and nitrogen manipulation experiment in a desert shrubland, we found that biocrusts can coexist with dwarf shrubs and annuals, but not withstand perennial herbs when the herbaceous productivity threshold (~70 g/m2) was exceeded. This study provides new insights into the threshold and mechanisms of biocrust–vascular plant coexistence, with important implications for dryland conservation and management.

Open Access

Traits and phylogenies modulate the environmental responses of wood-inhabiting fungal communities across spatial scales

  • Pages: 784-798
  • First Published: 13 January 2022
Description unavailable

Identifying the spatial scales at which community assembly processes operate is fundamental for gaining a mechanistic understanding of the drivers shaping ecological communities. Combining spatial data on species occurrences (A) with phylogenetic data (B) and trait data (C), we show that species-level traits and phylogenies modulate the responses of wood-inhabiting fungi to environmental processes acting at different scales. This suggests that the evolutionary histories of fungal traits diverge along different environmental axes.

Meta-analysis of induced anti-herbivore defence traits in plants from 647 manipulative experiments with natural and simulated herbivory

  • Pages: 799-816
  • First Published: 18 January 2022
Description unavailable

Manipulative experiments reveal many intrinsic differences among defensive chemicals and traits. They suggest plants in greenhouses may respond very differently to herbivores from those in field conditions. Although biosynthetic pathways of chemical responses, their modes of action and their effects on herbivores are well-understood, studies with greater statistical power under ecologically relevant settings are needed to discern induced and constitutive defences in how plants respond to their natural enemies.

Mechanisms of dietary resource partitioning in large-herbivore assemblages: A plant-trait-based approach

  • Pages: 817-832
  • First Published: 22 January 2022
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This study identifies key plant traits that underpin the partitioning of food–plant species by a diverse community of large herbivores in an African savanna. The results suggest that accounting for multiple plant traits (and trade-offs among them) will enable a deeper understanding of herbivore–plant interaction networks.

Functional traits predict species responses to environmental variation in a California grassland annual plant community

  • Pages: 833-844
  • First Published: 22 January 2022
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Shifts in community-weighted trait means are often assumed to reflect shifts in trait optima, but few studies have empirically tested this assumption. By pairing community surveys with a field experiment using annual plants in Southern California, we found that shifts in community-weighted trait means are often—but not always—consistent with trait-performance relationships across the landscape.

Large mammalian herbivores modulate plant growth form diversity in a tropical rainforest

  • Pages: 845-859
  • First Published: 22 January 2022
Description unavailable

Our work indicates that the defaunation alters growth form dominance by favouring palms and trees while eroding diversity among growth forms and coexistence on a temporal scale. Large herbivore mammals promote diversity among growth forms, preventing the hyper-dominance of trees and palms, yet without supressing the diversity of species within growth forms. We argue that large herbivore mammals affect growth forms through several non-mutually exclusive mechanisms, including herbivory, seed dispersal and physical disturbance, as well as differential effects linked to the morphological and physiological adaptations of growth forms. We conclude that defaunation might lead to profound impacts on important ecosystem functions underpinned by growth form diversity, and results in vertical and horizontal structural simplification of tropical rainforests.

Open Access

Intraspecific trait variation in alpine plants relates to their elevational distribution

  • Pages: 860-875
  • First Published: 24 February 2022
Description unavailable

Plant species (☆) from lower elevations and those with larger range sizes (pale diamonds) show greater intraspecific trait variation (e.g. plant height, right panel), which may indicate a greater ability to respond to environmental changes. Also, larger trait variation of species from lower elevations may indicate stronger competitive ability of upslope shifting species, posing one further threat to species from higher ranges.

Open Access

Climate and crown damage drive tree mortality in southern Amazonian edge forests

  • Pages: 876-888
  • First Published: 22 February 2022
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Tree death is a key process for our understanding of how forests are responding to global change. Our long-term research shows that more than 70% of all trees dying in this critical region at the edge of Amazonia already had markedly broken and damaged crowns years before they died. The damage caused by climate extremes—especially wind and drought—is concerning in light of widespread increases in dry-season intensity in the Amazon, and as tree mortality is already greater here than any in other Amazonian region, increases in mortality here may herald a tipping point for these forests.

Open Access

Plant life-history traits rather than soil legacies determine colonisation of soil patches in a multi-species grassland

  • Pages: 889-901
  • First Published: 04 February 2022
Description unavailable

Our results reject the hypothesis that colonisation of vacant soil patches in plant communities is strongly affected by the legacy that is left behind by the preceding plant species. Instead, plant species life-history strategy plays a prominent role, driving sequential plant species replacements. Based on our results and recent accounts in literature we present a conceptual model for local cyclic dynamics in grassland communities, where soil legacy plays a role in affecting the performance of established plant species rather than colonisation of vacant patches.

Pathways of savannization in a mesic African savanna–forest mosaic following an extreme fire

  • Pages: 902-915
  • First Published: 04 February 2022
Description unavailable

Our results suggest that rare extreme fires, followed by repeated burning can indeed result in savannization in places where savanna and forest represent alternative stable states.

Open Access

Biodiversity maintains soil multifunctionality and soil organic carbon in novel urban ecosystems

  • Pages: 916-934
  • First Published: 04 February 2022
Description unavailable

Our study highlights the positive effects of plant diversity on soil functioning in urban areas. By investigating dry grassland soils in Berlin, Germany, we show that plant diversity enhanced soil multifunctionality and soil organic carbon by increasing the diversity of below-ground organisms. These positive effects of plant diversity were not restricted to native plant species only, but were also exerted by non-native species, although to a lesser degree.

Assessing the potential of amino acid δ13C and δ15N analysis in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems

  • Pages: 935-950
  • First Published: 05 February 2022
Description unavailable

Distinct patterns in the carbon isotope (δ13C) values of essential amino acids among aquatic green algae, C3, C4, and CAM plants provide a high-resolution tracer for studying energy flow within and between terrestrial and freshwater food webs. Furthermore, differences in the nitrogen isotope (δ15N) values of glutamic acid or proline and lysine are consistent across algae and plants, indicating these ‘trophic’–‘source’ amino acid pairings are best for estimating consumer trophic level in these ecosystems.


No. 2

Free to Read

International Biological Flora: Ginkgo biloba

  • Pages: 951-982
  • First Published: 13 February 2022
Description unavailable

The living fossil Ginkgo biloba is one of the world’s most distinctive trees with an important position in plant evolution and human society. It is a tall deciduous dioecious tree with masses of golden fan-shaped leaves in autumn. It grows world-wide except in Antarctica and even survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The extreme longevity of over 1000 years results in part from its prominent tolerance and resistance to both biotic and abiotic stresses as well as from outstanding regeneration potential due to sprouts, suckers or air roots. Refugial and natural populations still persist along flood-disturbed streamsides in subtropical China.