Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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    Data from: Patterns of nitrogen-fixing tree abundance in forests across Asia and America
    Menge, Duncan N.L. ; Chisholm, Ryan A. ; Davies, Stuart J. ; Abu Salim, Kamariah ; Allen, David ; Alvarez, Mauricio ; Bourg, Norm ; Brockelman, Warren Y. ; Bunyavejchewin, Sarayudh ; Butt, Nathalie ; Ouden, Jan den; Jansen, Patrick - \ 2019
    Dryad
    Determinants of plant community diversity and structure - Forest - Smithsonian ForestGEO - legume - symbiosis - nutrient limitation - nitrogen fixation
    Symbiotic nitrogen (N)‐fixing trees can provide large quantities of new N to ecosystems, but only if they are sufficiently abundant. The overall abundance and latitudinal abundance distributions of N‐fixing trees are well characterised in the Americas, but less well outside the Americas. Here, we characterised the abundance of N‐fixing trees in a network of forest plots spanning five continents, ~5,000 tree species and ~4 million trees. The majority of the plots (86%) were in America or Asia. In addition, we examined whether the observed pattern of abundance of N‐fixing trees was correlated with mean annual temperature and precipitation. Outside the tropics, N‐fixing trees were consistently rare in the forest plots we examined. Within the tropics, N‐fixing trees were abundant in American but not Asian forest plots (~7% versus ~1% of basal area and stems). This disparity was not explained by mean annual temperature or precipitation. Our finding of low N‐fixing tree abundance in the Asian tropics casts some doubt on recent high estimates of N fixation rates in this region, which do not account for disparities in N‐fixing tree abundance between the Asian and American tropics. Synthesis. Inputs of nitrogen to forests depend on symbiotic nitrogen fixation, which is constrained by the abundance of N‐fixing trees. By analysing a large dataset of ~4 million trees, we found that N‐fixing trees were consistently rare in the Asian tropics as well as across higher latitudes in Asia, America and Europe. The rarity of N‐fixing trees in the Asian tropics compared with the American tropics might stem from lower intrinsic N limitation in Asian tropical forests, although direct support for any mechanism is lacking. The paucity of N‐fixing trees throughout Asian forests suggests that N inputs to the Asian tropics might be lower than previously thought.
    Soil-mediated filtering organizes tree assemblages in regenerating tropical forests
    Pinho, Bruno Ximenes ; Melo, Felipe Pimentel Lopes de; Arroyo-Rodríguez, Víctor ; Pierce, Simon ; Lohbeck, Madelon ; Tabarelli, Marcelo - \ 2018
    Journal of Ecology 106 (2018)1. - ISSN 0022-0477 - p. 137 - 147.
    Atlantic forest - Brazil - Community assembly - Determinants of plant community diversity and structure - Environmental filtering - Forest regeneration - Functional traits - Secondary succession - Soil fertility - Soil nutrients

    Secondary forests are increasingly dominant in human-modified tropical landscapes, but the drivers of forest recovery remain poorly understood. Soil conditions influence plant community composition, and are expected to change over a gradient of succession. However, the role of soil conditions as an environmental filter driving community assembly during forest succession has rarely been explicitly assessed. We evaluated the role of stand basal area and soil conditions on community assembly and its consequences for community functional properties along a chronosequence of Atlantic forest regeneration following sugar cane cultivation. Specifically, we tested whether community functional properties are related to stand basal area, soil fertility and soil moisture. Our expectations were that edaphic environmental filters play an increasingly important role along secondary succession by increasing functional trait convergence towards more conservative attributes. We sampled soil and woody vegetation features across 15 second-growth (3-30 years) and 11 old-growth forest plots (300 m2 each). We recorded tree functional traits related to resource-use strategies (specific leaf area, SLA; leaf dry matter content, LDMC; leaf area, LA; leaf thickness, LT; and leaf succulence, LS) and calculated community functional properties using the community-weighted mean (CWM) of each trait and the functional dispersion (FDis) of each trait separately and all traits together. With exception of LA, all leaf traits were strongly associated with stand basal area; LDMC and SLA increased, while LT and LS decreased with forest development. Such changes in LDMC, LT and LS were also related to the decrease in soil nutrient availability and pH along succession, while soil moisture was weakly related to community functional properties. Considering all traits, as well as leaf thickness and succulence separately, FDis strongly decreased with increasing basal area and decreasing soil fertility along forest succession, presenting the lowest values in old-growth forests. Synthesis. Our findings suggest that tropical forest regeneration may be a deterministic process shaped by soil conditions. Soil fertility operates as a key filter causing functional convergence towards more conservative resource-use strategies, such as leaves with higher leaf dry matter content.

    Data from: Environmental gradients and the evolution of successional habitat specialization: a test case with 14 Neotropical forest sites
    Letcher, Susan G. ; Lasky, Jesse R. ; Chazdon, Robin L. ; Norden, Natalia ; Wright, S.J. ; Meave, Jorge A. ; Pérez-García, Eduardo A. ; Muñoz, Rodrigo ; Romero-Pérez, Eunice ; Andrade, Ana ; Balvanera, Patricia ; Bongers, Frans ; Lohbeck, Madelon - \ 2016
    State University of New York (SUNY)
    Determinants of plant community diversity and structure - Life History Evolution - Precipitation gradient - Tropical wet forest - Tropical dry forest - Functional traits - phylogeny - Pioneer species
    1. Successional gradients are ubiquitous in nature, yet few studies have systematically examined the evolutionary origins of taxa that specialize at different successional stages. Here we quantify successional habitat specialization in Neotropical forest trees and evaluate its evolutionary lability along a precipitation gradient. Theoretically, successional habitat specialization should be more evolutionarily conserved in wet forests than in dry forests due to more extreme microenvironmental differentiation between early and late successional stages in wet forest. 2. We applied a robust multinomial classification model to samples of primary and secondary forest trees from 14 Neotropical lowland forest sites spanning a precipitation gradient from 788 to 4000 mm annual rainfall, identifying species that are old growth specialists and secondary forest specialists in each site. We constructed phylogenies for the classified taxa at each site and for the entire set of classified taxa, and tested whether successional habitat specialization is phylogenetically conserved. We further investigated differences in the functional traits of species specializing in secondary vs. old-growth forest along the precipitation gradient, expecting different trait associations with secondary forest specialists in wet vs. dry forests since water availability is more limiting in dry forests and light availability more limiting in wet forests. 3. Successional habitat specialization is non-randomly distributed in the angiosperm phylogeny, with a tendency towards phylogenetic conservatism overall and a trend toward stronger conservatism in wet forests than in dry forests. However, the specialists come from all the major branches of the angiosperm phylogeny, and very few functional traits showed any consistent relationships with successional habitat specialization in either wet or dry forests. 4. Synthesis: The niche conservatism evident in the habitat specialization of Neotropical trees suggests a role for radiation into different successional habitats in the evolution of species-rich genera, though the diversity of functional traits that lead to success in different successional habitats complicates analyses at the community scale. Examining the distribution of particular lineages with respect to successional gradients may provide more insight into the role of successional habitat specialization in the evolution of species-rich taxa.
    Forest structure along a 600 km transect of natural disturbances and seasonality gradients in central-southern Amazonia
    Schietti, Juliana ; Martins, Demétrius ; Emilio, Thaise ; Souza, Priscila F. ; Levis, Carolina ; Baccaro, Fabricio B. ; Purri da Veiga Pinto, José Luiz ; Moulatlet, Gabriel M. ; Stark, Scott C. ; Sarmento, Kelly ; Nazaré O. de Araújo, R. ; Costa, Flávia R.C. ; Schöngart, Jochen ; Quesada, Carlos A. ; Saleska, Scott R. ; Tomasella, Javier ; Magnusson, William E. - \ 2016
    Journal of Ecology 104 (2016). - ISSN 0022-0477 - p. 1335 - 1346.
    Above-ground biomass - Carbon stocks - Density of stems - Determinants of plant community diversity and structure - Purus-Madeira interfluve - Soil - Storms - Tropical forest

    A negative relationship between stand biomass and the density of stems is expected to develop during the self-thinning process in resource-limited forests; this leads to a large proportion of the total biomass occurring in large trees. Nevertheless, frequent disturbance regimes can reduce self-thinning and the accumulation of large trees. We investigated size-density relationships and the contribution of large trees (dbh ≥ 70 cm) to stand biomass in 55 1-ha plots along a 600 km transect in central-southern Amazonia. The effects of natural-disturbance gradients (frequency of storms and soil characteristics) and seasonality on forest-structure components (density of stems and mean individual mass) and stand biomass were examined. Contrary to self-thinning predictions, stand biomass increased in forests with higher stem densities. Large trees contained only an average of 5% of stand biomass, and half of the stand biomass was represented by small trees with diameters <27 cm. These findings indicate that persistent or strong disturbance plays a critical role in forest structure and biomass in the central-southern Amazon. Frequent storms were identified as an important source of disturbance in the region. Forests under higher frequency of storms had trees with lower individual mass and higher stem packing. More physically restrictive soils seem to magnify the effects of exogenous disturbances limiting individual tree size. Forests in areas with longer dry seasons had lower stem densities; however, individual mass was higher in these areas. These structural components of biomass seem to counterbalance each other in generating total stand biomass. Seasonality affected forest structural components but not stand biomass. Synthesis. Forests of central-southern Amazonia are not resource limited and accumulate most part of their biomass in small- to mid-sized trees. The effects of environmental gradients on specific structural components of stand biomass differ such that strong positive effects on one component can mitigate strong negative effects on other component. Future work on the determinants of stand biomass should investigate forest structure and the contributions of individual components to stand biomass.

    Environmental gradients and the evolution of successional habitat specialization : A test case with 14 Neotropical forest sites
    Letcher, Susan G. ; Lasky, Jesse R. ; Chazdon, Robin L. ; Norden, Natalia ; Wright, S.J. ; Meave, Jorge A. ; Pérez-García, Eduardo A. ; Muñoz, Rodrigo ; Romero-Pérez, Eunice ; Andrade, Ana ; Balvanera, Patricia ; Bongers, Frans ; Lohbeck, Madelon - \ 2015
    Journal of Ecology 103 (2015)5. - ISSN 0022-0477 - p. 1276 - 1290.
    Determinants of plant community diversity and structure - Functional traits - Life-history evolution - Phylogeny - Pioneer species - Precipitation gradient - Tropical dry forest - Tropical wet forest

    Successional gradients are ubiquitous in nature, yet few studies have systematically examined the evolutionary origins of taxa that specialize at different successional stages. Here we quantify successional habitat specialization in Neotropical forest trees and evaluate its evolutionary lability along a precipitation gradient. Theoretically, successional habitat specialization should be more evolutionarily conserved in wet forests than in dry forests due to more extreme microenvironmental differentiation between early and late-successional stages in wet forest. We applied a robust multinomial classification model to samples of primary and secondary forest trees from 14 Neotropical lowland forest sites spanning a precipitation gradient from 788 to 4000 mm annual rainfall, identifying species that are old-growth specialists and secondary forest specialists in each site. We constructed phylogenies for the classified taxa at each site and for the entire set of classified taxa and tested whether successional habitat specialization is phylogenetically conserved. We further investigated differences in the functional traits of species specializing in secondary vs. old-growth forest along the precipitation gradient, expecting different trait associations with secondary forest specialists in wet vs. dry forests since water availability is more limiting in dry forests and light availability more limiting in wet forests. Successional habitat specialization is non-randomly distributed in the angiosperm phylogeny, with a tendency towards phylogenetic conservatism overall and a trend towards stronger conservatism in wet forests than in dry forests. However, the specialists come from all the major branches of the angiosperm phylogeny, and very few functional traits showed any consistent relationships with successional habitat specialization in either wet or dry forests. Synthesis. The niche conservatism evident in the habitat specialization of Neotropical trees suggests a role for radiation into different successional habitats in the evolution of species-rich genera, though the diversity of functional traits that lead to success in different successional habitats complicates analyses at the community scale. Examining the distribution of particular lineages with respect to successional gradients may provide more insight into the role of successional habitat specialization in the evolution of species-rich taxa.

    Dispersal versus environmental filtering in a dynamic system : Drivers of vegetation patterns and diversity along stream riparian gradients
    Fraaije, R.G.A. ; Braak, C.J.F. ter; Verduyn, Betty ; Verhoeven, J.T.A. ; Soons, M.B. - \ 2015
    Journal of Ecology 103 (2015)6. - ISSN 0022-0477 - p. 1634 - 1646.
    Community assembly - Determinants of plant community diversity and structure - Directed dispersal - Hydrological gradients - Lowland streams - Neutral versus niche - Plant diversity - Riparian vegetation - Riparian zone - Wetland restoration

    Both environmental filtering and dispersal filtering are known to influence plant species distribution patterns and biodiversity. Particularly in dynamic habitats, however, it remains unclear whether environmental filtering (stimulated by stressful conditions) or dispersal filtering (during recolonization events) dominates in community assembly, or how they interact. Such a fundamental understanding of community assembly is critical to the design of biodiversity conservation and restoration strategies. Stream riparian zones are species-rich dynamic habitats. They are characterized by steep hydrological gradients likely to promote environmental filtering, and by spatiotemporal variation in the arrival of propagules likely to promote dispersal filtering. We quantified the contributions of both filters by monitoring natural seed arrival (dispersal filter) and experimentally assessing germination, seedling survival and growth of 17 riparian plant species (environmental filter) along riparian gradients of three lowland streams that were excavated to bare substrate for restoration. Subsequently, we related spatial patterns in each process to species distribution and diversity patterns after 1 and 2 years of succession. Patterns in initial seed arrival were very clearly reflected in species distribution patterns in the developing vegetation and were more significant than environmental filtering. However, environmental filtering intensified towards the wet end of the riparian gradient, particularly through effects of flooding on survival and growth, which strongly affected community diversity and generated a gradient in the vegetation. Strikingly, patterns in seed arrival foreshadowed the gradient that developed in the vegetation; seeds of species with adult optima at wetter conditions dominated seed arrival at low elevations along the riparian gradient, while seeds of species with drier optima arrived higher up. Despite previous assertions suggesting a dominance of environmental filtering, our results demonstrate that non-random dispersal may be an important driver of early successional riparian vegetation zonation and biodiversity patterns as well. Synthesis. Our results demonstrate (and quantify) the strong roles of both environmental and dispersal filtering in determining plant community assemblies in early successional dynamic habitats. Furthermore, we demonstrate that dispersal filtering can already initiate vegetation gradients, a mechanism that may have been overlooked along many environmental gradients where interspecific interactions are (temporarily) reduced. Our results demonstrate and quantify the strong roles of both environmental and dispersal filtering in determining plant community assemblies in early successional dynamic habitats. Furthermore, we demonstrate that dispersal filtering can already initiate vegetation gradients, a mechanism that may have been overlooked along many environmental gradients where interspecific interactions are (temporarily) reduced.

    Succession-induced trait shifts across a wide range of NW European ecosystems are driven by light and modulated by initial abiotic conditions
    Douma, Jacob C. ; Haan, Martin W.A. de; Aerts, Rien ; Witte, Jan Philip M. ; Bodegom, Peter M. van - \ 2012
    Journal of Ecology 100 (2012)2. - ISSN 0022-0477 - p. 366 - 380.
    Chronosequences - Determinants of plant community diversity and structure - Functional ecosystem characteristics - Initial abiotic conditions - Meta-analysis - Plant strategy axes - Succession trajectories - Trajectory partitioning

    For truly predictive community ecology, it is essential to understand the interplay between species traits, their environment and their impacts on the composition of plant communities. These interactions are increasingly understood for various environmental drivers, but our understanding of how traits, in general, change during succession is still modest. We hypothesize that (initial) abiotic conditions other than light drive the successional dynamics of other traits. The idea that different initial abiotic conditions lead to different trait trajectories during succession was predicted long ago but has never been tested for traits. In this study, we compared the successional (decades to centuries) trait trajectories of 19 ecosystem types in low-altitude NW Europe using a database including >4700 plots. We tested which traits (out of a total of 12, including those associated with light competition strategies) show consistent shifts across ecosystems. Additionally, we investigated, through a novel partitioning of trait differences (using partial principal component analyses), whether abiotic factors can explain trait shifts that occur over and above light-induced trait shifts. We show that canopy height, woodiness, leaf size and seed mass increase, and flowering onset and flowering duration decrease consistently with succession across ecosystems, while leaf economic traits and life span showed a mixed response during succession. Accounting for the effect of height revealed that the initial and prevailing abiotic conditions - particularly soil moisture - co-determine trait shifts during succession. Therefore, different initial starting conditions may lead to different trajectories in trait space, most notably due to the differential response of specific leaf area (SLA), leaf nitrogen content and life span. For example, SLA decreases in seres that become drier over time (initially very wet), while it increases in seres that become wetter over time (initially very dry). Synthesis. Our novel approach of partitioning successional trait shifts between the influence of competition for light and other abiotic factors showed that trajectories of ecosystems through trait space can be explained by a combination of the two: a universal response to changing light availability and a specific response depending on initial abiotic conditions.

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