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Check out our work below       

Current Projects

Plant Distribution

NSF HDR: Collaborative Research: Near term forecasts of global plant distribution, community structure, and ecosystem function (2019)

PI: Dr. Brian Enquist

What is HDR?

Invasive Species

NSF CNH2-L: Solving grand challenges in coupled natural human systems: predicting effective governance strategies for management invasive species (2019 Recommended for funding)

PI: Dr. Liz Baldwin

NSF Award Abstract

Database

NSF RIDIR: Collaborative Research: A data science platform and mechanisms for its sustainability (2018)

PI: Dr. Laura López-Hoffman

NSF Award Abstract

Forest Teleconnections

NSF CNH-L: Revealing the hidden ecoclimate teleconnections between forest and agriculture in the US enables novel governance strategies for a telecoupled world (2018)

PI: Dr. David Breshears

NSF Award Abstract

Publications

2022

Abstract:

Aim: Addressing global environmental challenges requires access to biodiversity data across wide spatial, temporal and biological scales. Recent decades have witnessed an exponential increase of biodiversity information aggregated by biodiversity databases (hereafter ‘databases’). However, heterogeneous coverage, protocols, and standards of databases hampered the data integration among databases. To stimulate the next stage of data integration, here we present a synthesis of major databases, and investigate i) how the coverages of databases vary across taxonomy, space, and record type; ii) the degree of integration among databases; iii) how integration of databases can increase biodiversity knowledge; iv) the barriers to databases integration.

Full Article Here

Citation:

Feng, X., Enquist, B. J., Park, D. S., Boyle, B., Breshears, D. D., Gallagher, R. V., Lien, A., Newman, E. A., Burger, J. R., Maitner, B. S., Merow, C., Li, Y., Huynh, K. M., Ernst, K., Baldwin, E., Foden, W., Hannah, L., Jørgensen, P. M., Kraft, N. J. B., … Hurlbert, A.. (2022). A review of the heterogeneous landscape of biodiversity databases: Opportunities and challenges for a synthesized biodiversity knowledge base. Global Ecology and Biogeography. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13497

Abstract:

Ecosystem-dependent communities (EDCs) rely on ecosystem services for their wellbeing in many ways, but there is a lack of robust metrics to estimate their human wellbeing in a multi-dimensional manner. Existing approaches are not tailored to EDCs, hence failing to adequately reflect their distinct characteristics and strong links to social-ecological systems. We used the domains of human wellbeing determined by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (i.e. basic materials, health, freedom, social relation, and security) to develop a novel conceptual framework and a composite index of human wellbeing for EDCs. The actual indicators and variables were determined through an extensive literature review and a participatory method around the Sundarbans forest in Bangladesh. Data obtained from focus group discussions (FGDs), interviewing households as well as experts, were used to estimate the Human Wellbeing Index for EDC (HWI-EDC). The composite index results suggest that the EDCs in the study area had moderate human wellbeing, which was primarily consisted of the freedom and basic materials domains due to the comparatively high priority values allocated by the local communities. The Social relation domain was the least contributor to the composite wellbeing of EDCs, as the widespread poverty forced most of the people to prioritize their livelihoods and basic family needs over social relations. Sensitivity analysis suggests that the HWI-EDC is robust and internally consistent, which demonstrates its promise and potential applicability in other EDCs contexts worldwide. Besides providing a unique lens for understanding human wellbeing and its determinants, it can open up new avenues for holistic research efforts to assess the development projects and policies in regards to achieving positive wellbeing outcomes for EDCs.

Full Article Here

Citation:

Abu S.M.G. Kibria, Robert Costanza, Alexandros Gasparatos, José Soto. A composite human wellbeing index for ecosystem-dependent communities: A case study in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh. Ecosystem Services, Volume 53, 2022, 101389, ISSN 2212-0416, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2021.101389

Abstract:

Competing phylogenetic models have been proposed to explain the success of species introduced to other communities. Here, we present a study predicting the establishment success of birds introduced to Florida, Hawaii and New Zealand using several alternative models, considering species' phylogenetic relatedness to source- and recipient-range taxa, propagule pressure and traits. We find consistent support for the predictive ability of source-region phylogenetic structure. However, we find that the effects of recipient-region phylogenetic structure vary in sign and magnitude depending on inclusion of source-region phylogenetic structure, delineation of the recipient species pool and the use of phylogenetic correction in the models. We argue that tests of alternative phylogenetic hypotheses including both source and recipient community phylogenetic structure, as well as important covariates such as propagule pressure, are likely to be critical for identifying general phylogenetic patterns in introduction success, predicting future invasions and for stimulating further exploration of the underlying mechanisms of invasibility.

Full Article Here

Citation:

Maitner, B.S., Park, D.S., Enquist, B.J. and Dlugosch, K.M. (2022), Both source- and recipient-range phylogenetic community structure can predict the outcome of avian introductions. Ecography, 2022:. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.05934

2021

Abstract:

In the southwestern United States, non-native grass invasions have increased wildfire occurrence in deserts and the likelihood of fire spread to and from other biomes with disparate fire regimes. The elevational transition between desertscrub and montane grasslands, woodlands, and forests generally occurs at ∼1,200 masl and has experienced fast suburbanization and an expanding wildland-urban interface (WUI). In summer 2020, the Bighorn Fire in the Santa Catalina Mountains burned 486 km2 and prompted alerts and evacuations along a 40-km stretch of WUI below 1,200 masl on the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona, a metropolitan area of >1M people. To better understand the changing nature of the WUI here and elsewhere in the region, we took a multidimensional and timely approach to assess fire dynamics along the Desertscrub-Semi-desert Grassland ecotone in the Catalina foothills, which is in various stages of non-native grass invasion. The Bighorn Fire was principally a forest fire driven by a long-history of fire suppression, accumulation of fine fuels following a wet winter and spring, and two decades of hotter droughts, culminating in the hottest and second driest summer in the 125-yr Tucson weather record. Saguaro (Carnegia gigantea), a giant columnar cactus, experienced high mortality. Resprouting by several desert shrub species may confer some post-fire resiliency in desertscrub. Buffelgrass and other non-native species played a minor role in carrying the fire due to the patchiness of infestation at the upper edge of the Desertscrub biome. Coupled state-and-transition fire-spread simulation models suggest a marked increase in both burned area and fire frequency if buffelgrass patches continue to expand and coalesce at the Desertscrub/Semi-desert Grassland interface. A survey of area residents six months after the fire showed awareness of buffelgrass was significantly higher among residents that were evacuated or lost recreation access, with higher awareness of fire risk, saguaro loss and declining property values, in that order. Sustained and timely efforts to document and assess fast-evolving fire connectivity due to grass invasions, and social awareness and perceptions, are needed to understand and motivate mitigation of an increasingly fire-prone future in the region.

Full Article Here

Citation:

Wilder, B. T., Jarnevich, C. S., Baldwin, E., Black, J. S., Franklin, K. A., Grissom, P., Hovanes, K. A., Olsson, A., Malusa, J., Kibria, A. S. M. G., Li, Y. M., Lien, A. M., Ponce, A., Rowe, J. A., Soto, J. R., Stahl, M. R., Young, N. E., & Betancourt, J. L.. (2021). Grassification and Fast-Evolving Fire Connectivity and Risk in the Sonoran Desert, United States. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution9https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2021.655561 

Abstract:

The structural and functional attributes of urban and peri-urban forests are the basis for the provision of a suite of ecosystem services that directly and indirectly benefit residents across scales, tenures and land uses. As such, many local governments promote municipal urban forest initiatives such as maintenance and management plans, ordinances, and tree-giveaway programs (e.g. Orlando, USA and Sydney, Australia). However, the effectiveness and distributional fairness of these activities often overlooks residents’ values and preferences for certain tree functional traits, sizes, densities and associated costs. This study implements an online survey of 724 Florida, USA residents, to: 1) examine preferences/tradeoffs for multiple urban forest structure-function attributes; 2) quantify and assess the differences in willingness-to-pay (WTP) for these forest structure attributes in public areas; and 3) examine the implications of value heterogeneity for tree function-structure attributes for purposes of crafting policies or designing public programs dealing with urban forests. Only 19% of respondents indicated a serious concern about living close to trees and flowering plants that produce pollen that can result in allergies. Similarly, only 12% were concerned about hurricane wind impacts to and from their treescapes. Using latent class modeling and a stated preferences panel data, our results reveal important differences in WTP along multiple value groups, each with different WTP values for: tree nativity (native vs. exotic); number of species (many vs. few) and size of trees (fully grown vs. mix of ages); as well as maintenance costs. The novel approach of this study indicates the importance of using tree functional traits versus species taxa and accounting for diverse values among the public for more effective decisions. Findings can be used to inform timely policy initiatives, while providing additional evidence of the ubiquity of the public’s heterogeneous values and providing guidance to avoid potentially misleading policy interpretations.

Full Article Here

Citation:

Alvarez, S., Soto, J.R., Escobedo, F.J., Lai, J., Kibria, A.S.M.G., Adams, D.C. (2021). Heterogeneous preferences and economic values for urban forest structural and functional attributes. Landscape and Urban Planning, 215(104234). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2021.104234

Abstract:

Understanding the underlying complexity in human wellbeing formation is indispensable to maintain sustainable ecosystem services production and ensure greater human wellbeing. The interactions between wellbeing dimensions that create the complexity are yet to be adequately understood. This study is designed to reveal the complex mechanisms shaping the wellbeing of the communities who are heavily reliant on ecosystem based livelihoods. In order to represent the robustness of wellbeing due to the economic dependency on the ecosystem services, we have taken into account six wellbeing dimensions- food sufficiency, livelihood security, physical health, stress level (mental), freedom of choice, and social cohesion. This study has identified the criteria of each dimension and provided empirical evidence on how the dimensions as well as their criteria influence each other. The wellbeing dimensions created a complex association that significantly shaped the wellbeing of the people. We found that food sufficiency was significantly influenced by not only its criteria but also the status of livelihood security, mental health, and freedom of choice which also had their own criteria sets. Similar relations were also observed in other dimensions. The findings would play a vital role in enhancing the resilience of coupled human-natural systems and thereby achieving greater sustainability.

Full Article Here

Citation:

Abu SMG Kibria, Robert Costanza, José R Soto. Modeling the complex associations of human wellbeing dimensions in a coupled human-natural system: In contexts of marginalized communities, Ecological Modelling, Volume 466, 2022, 109883, ISSN 0304-3800, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2022.109883.

Abstract:

Biodiversity contributes to the ecological and climatic stability of the Amazon Basin1,2, but is increasingly threatened by deforestation and fire3,4. Here we quantify these impacts over the past two decades using remote-sensing estimates of fire and deforestation and comprehensive range estimates of 11,514 plant species and 3,079 vertebrate species in the Amazon. Deforestation has led to large amounts of habitat loss, and fires further exacerbate this already substantial impact on Amazonian biodiversity. Since 2001, 103,079–189,755 km2 of Amazon rainforest has been impacted by fires, potentially impacting the ranges of 77.3–85.2% of species that are listed as threatened in this region5. The impacts of fire on the ranges of species in Amazonia could be as high as 64%, and greater impacts are typically associated with species that have restricted ranges. We find close associations between forest policy, fire-impacted forest area and their potential impacts on biodiversity. In Brazil, forest policies that were initiated in the mid-2000s corresponded to reduced rates of burning. However, relaxed enforcement of these policies in 2019 has seemingly begun to reverse this trend: approximately 4,253–10,343 km2 of forest has been impacted by fire, leading to some of the most severe potential impacts on biodiversity since 2009. These results highlight the critical role of policy enforcement in the preservation of biodiversity in the Amazon.

Full Article Here

Citation:

Feng, X, Merow, C, Liu, Z, Park, DS, Roehrdanz, PR, Maitner, B, Newman, EA, Boyle, BL, Lien, ABurger, JR, Pires, MM, Brando, PM, Bush, MB, McMichael, CNH, Neves, DM, Nikologoulos, EI, Saleska, SR, Hannah, L, Breshears, DDEvans, TPSoto, JRErnst, KCEnquist, BJ. (2021). How deregulation, drought and increasing fire impact Amazonian biodiversity. Nature . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03876-7

Abstract:

Phenology, the study of the timing of cyclical life history events and seasonal changes, is a fundamental aspect of how individual species, communities, and ecosystems will respond to climate change. Both biotic and abiotic phenological patterns are changing rapidly in response to changing seasonal temperatures and other climate-related drivers, and the consequences of these shifts for individual species and entire ecosystems are largely unknown. Landscape-scale simulations can address some of these needs for better predictions by demonstrating how phenology measures can vary with spatial and temporal grain of observations, and how phenological responses can vary with landscape heterogeneity and climate drivers. To explicitly examine the spatial and temporal scale-dependence of multiple phenology measures, we constructed simulated landscapes populated by virtual plant species with realistic phenologies and environmental sensitivities. This enabled us to examine phenology measures and environmental sensitivities along a continuum of spatial and temporal grains, while also controlling other aspects of sampling design. By relating measures of phenology calculated at a given spatiotemporal grain to average environmental conditions at that same grain size, we are able to determine observed environmental sensitivities for multiple phenological metrics at that spatial and temporal scale. We demonstrate that different phenological events change distinctly and predictably with spatial and temporal measurement scale, opening the way to incorporating scaling laws into predictions. Using plant flowering as our example, we identify that the timing of the beginnings or ends of an event (e.g., First Flower date, Last Flower date), can be especially sensitive to the spatial and temporal grain (or resolution) of observations. Our work provides an initial assessment of the role of observation scale in landscape phenology, and a general approach for incorporating scale-dependence into predictions of a variety of phenological time series.

Full Article Here

Citation:

Newman, E.A., Breckheimer, I.K. , Park, D.S. Disentangling the effects of climate change, landscape heterogeneity, and scale on phenological metrics. (2021) biorXiv (preprint at https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.02.05.429398)

 

Abstract:

Climate models predict that, in the coming decades, many arid regions will experience increasingly hot conditions and will be affected more frequently by drought. These regions are also experiencing rapid vegetation change, notably invasion by exotic grasses. Invasive grasses spread rapidly into native desert ecosystems due, in particular, to interannual variability in precipitation and periodic fires. The resultant destruction of non-fire-adapted native shrub and grass communities and of the inherent soil resource heterogeneity can yield invader-dominated grasslands. Moreover, recurrent droughts are expected to cause widespread physiological stress and mortality of both invasive and native plants, as well as the loss of soil resources. However, the magnitude of these effects may differ between invasive and native grasses, especially under warmer conditions, rendering the trajectory of vegetated communities uncertain. Using the Biosphere 2 facility in the Sonoran Desert, we evaluated the viability of these hypothesized relationships by simulating combinations of drought and elevated temperature (+5oC) and assessing the ecophysiological and mortality responses of both a dominant invasive grass (Pennisetum ciliare  or buffelgrass) and a dominant native grass (Heteropogan contortus or tanglehead). While both grasses survived protracted drought at ambient temperatures by inducing dormancy, drought under warmed conditions exceeded the tolerance limits of the native species, resulting in greater and more rapid mortality than exhibited by the invasive. Thus, two major drivers of global environmental change, biological invasion and climate change, can be expected to synergistically accelerate ecosystem degradation unless large-scale interventions are enacted.

Full Article Here

Citation:
    • Ravi, S., Law, D. J., Caplan, J. S., Barron-Gafford, G. A., Dontsova, K. M., Espeleta, J. F., Villegas, J. C., Okin, G. S., Breshears, D. D., & Huxman, T. E. (2021). Biological invasions and climate change amplify each other’s effects on dryland degradation. Global Change Biology, 28, 285– 295. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15919

Abstract:

To meet the ambitious objectives of biodiversity and climate conventions, the international community requires clarity on how these objectives can be operationalized spatially and how multiple targets can be pursued concurrently. To support goal setting and the implementation of international strategies and action plans, spatial guidance is needed to identify which land areas have the potential to generate the greatest synergies between conserving biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people. Here we present results from a joint optimization that minimizes the number of threatened species, maximizes carbon retention and water quality regulation, and ranks terrestrial conservation priorities globally. We found that selecting the top-ranked 30% and 50% of terrestrial land area would conserve respectively 60.7% and 85.3% of the estimated total carbon stock and 66% and 89.8% of all clean water, in addition to meeting conservation targets for 57.9% and 79% of all species considered. Our data and prioritization further suggest that adequately conserving all species considered (vertebrates and plants) would require giving conservation attention to ~70% of the terrestrial land surface. If priority was given to biodiversity only, managing 30% of optimally located land area for conservation may be sufficient to meet conservation targets for 81.3% of the terrestrial plant and vertebrate species considered. Our results provide a global assessment of where land could be optimally managed for conservation. We discuss how such a spatial prioritization framework can support the implementation of the biodiversity and climate conventions.

Full Article Here

Citation:

Jung, M., A. Arnell, X. de Lamo, S.G. Rangel, M. Lewis, J. Mark, C. Merow, L. Miles, I. Ondo, S. Pironon, C. Ravilious, M. Rivers, D. Schepashenko, O. Tallowin, A. van Soesbergen, R, Govaerts, B.L. Boyle, B.J. Enquist, X. Feng, R.V. Gallagher, B. Maitner, S. Meiri, M. Mulligan, G. Ofer, J.O. Hanson, W. Jetz, M. Di Marco, J. McGowan, D.S. Rinnan, J.D. Sachs, M. Lesiv, V. Adams, S.C. Andrew, J.R. Burger, L. Hannah,  P.A. Marquet, J.K. McCarthy, N. Morueta-Holme, E.A. Newman, D.S. Park, P.R. Roehrdanz, J.-C. Svenning, C. Violle, J.J. Wieringa, G. Wynne, S. Fritz, B.B.N. Strassburg, M. Obersteiner, V. Kapos, N. Burgess, G. Schmidt-Traub, P. Visconti. Areas of global importance for conserving terrestrial biodiversity, carbon and water. Nat Ecol Evol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-021-01528-7

Abstract:

This dataset contains daily layers of precipitation data from weather stations in Maricopa County, Arizona, USA, from October 2012 - September 2017. The layers contain raw measurements as well as spatial interpolation between weather stations done by kriging. Elevation was used as a covariate for the kriging algorithm.

Full Article Here

Citation:

Newman, Erica A, & Feng, Xiao. (2021). Maricopa County, AZ interpolated daily precipitation rasters (1.0) [Data set]. Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5422729

Abstract:

Phenology, or the timing of life history events, can be heterogeneous across biological communities and landscapes and can vary across a wide variety of spatiotemporal scales. Here, we synthesize information from landscape phenology studies across different scales of measurement around a set of core concepts. We highlight why phenology is scale dependent and identify gaps in the spatiotemporal scales of phenological observations and inferences. We discuss the consequences of these gaps and describe opportunities to address the inherent sensitivities of phenological metrics to measurement scale. Although most studies we review and discuss are focused on plants, our work provides a broadly relevant overview of the role of observation scale in landscape phenology and a general approach for measuring and reporting scale dependence.

Full Article Here

Citation:

Park, D.S., E.A. Newman, IK Breckheimer. (2021) Scale gaps in landscape phenology: challenges and opportunities. Trends in Ecology & Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2021.04.008

Abstract:

Herbarium collections shape our understanding of the world’s flora and are crucial for addressing global change and biodiversity conservation. The formation of such natural history collections, however, are not free from sociopolitical issues of immediate relevance. Despite increasing efforts addressing issues of representation and colonialism in natural history collections, herbaria have received comparatively less attention. While it has been noted that the majority of plant specimens are housed in the global North, the extent of this disparity has not been rigorously quantified to date. Here, by analyzing over 85 million specimen records and surveying herbaria across the globe, we assess the colonial legacy of botanical collections and how we may move towards a more inclusive future. We demonstrate that colonial exploitation has contributed to an inverse relationship between where plant biodiversity exists in nature and where it is housed in herbaria. Such disparities persist in herbaria across physical and digital realms despite overt colonialism having ended over half a century ago, suggesting ongoing digitization and decolonization efforts have yet to alleviate colonial-era discrepancies. We emphasize the need for acknowledging the inconvenient history of herbarium collections and the implementation of a more equitable, global paradigm for their collection, curation, and use.

Full Article Here (preprint)

Citation:

Park, D. S., Feng, X., Akiyama, S., Ardiyani, M., Avendaño, N., Barina, Z., Bärtschi, B., Belgrano, M., Betancur, J., Bijmoer, R., Bogaerts, A., Cano, A., Danihelka, J., Garg, A., Giblin, D. E., Gogoi, R., Guggisberg, A., Hyvärinen, M., James, S. A., … Davis, C. C.. (2021). The colonial legacy of herbariahttps://doi.org/10.1101/2021.10.27.466174. 

Abstract:

Agricultural management practices drawn from Indigenous agricultural knowledge (IAK) have supported people in the North American desert Southwest for thousands of years. Techniques developed and refined from generation to generation through careful observation and innovation have enhanced the sustainability and resilience of these delicate agroecosystems over millennia. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recognized the contributions of IAK practices to Environmental Quality Incentives (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Programs (CSP) in the 2010 Indigenous Stewardship Methods and NRCS Conservation Practices (ISM) handbook. However, during fiscal year 2017 2% of EQIP and CSP contracts went to American Indian farms, which make up 2.9% of the total farms in the United States. NRCS would need to award nearly 400 more contracts to Indigenous farms to achieve proportional representation. This suggests significant potential exists for expanding American Indian participation in these conservation programs but barriers to their participation remain. For example, agriculturalists who wish to employ IAK management practices must go through an ad hoc process defined in the 2010 ISM handbook. This adds further complexity to the application process, in which applicants must navigate unique land tenure/ownership issues and tribal/federal interactions. Here we present examples of Indigenous conservation practices embedded in agricultural systems of Hopi dryland farmers, the La Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa wild rice (Zizania palustris) harvesters, and Menominee tribal foresters to demonstrate the compatibility of IAK practices with NRCS conservation outcomes and to argue for full inclusion of Indigenous agricultural practices into something equivalent to the NRCS Field Office Technical Guides. Expansion of Indigenous agriculturalists and producers in NRCS programs can help preserve important ecosystems and help support Indigenous cultures and time-tested concepts of stewardship. Incorporation and support of IAK practices is beneficial to all stakeholders because expansion of partnerships between the NRCS and Indigenous agriculturalists and producers will help expand Indigenous conservation and agriculture practices and further the NRCS mission of “Helping People Help the Land.”

Full Article Here

Citation:

 

Johnson, M.K., Rowe, M.J., Lien, A., López-Hoffman, L. (2021). Enhancing integration of Indigenous agricultural knowledge into USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service cost-share initiatives. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 76(6):487-497. Doi: 10.2489/jswc.2021.00179.

Abstract:

This data repository contains the results of the NatureMap ( naturemap.earth/) conservation prioritization effort. The maps were created by jointly optimizing biodiversity and NCPs such as carbon and/or water.

Full Article Here

Citation:

Jung, M.Arnell, A.de Lamo, X.Garcia-Rangel, S.Lewis, M.Mark, J.Merow, C.Miles, L., Ondo, I. Pironon, S., Ravilious, C., Rivers, M., Shchepashchenko, D., Tallowin, O., van Soesbergen, A., Govaerts, R., Boyle, B., Enquist, B., Feng, X., Gallagher, R., Maitner, B., Meiri, S., Mulligan, M., Ofer, G., Roll, U., Hanson, J., Jetz, W., Marco, M., McGowan, J., Rinnan, D., Sachs, J., Lesiv, M., Adams, V., Andrew, S., Burger, J., Hannah, L., Marquet, P., McCarthy, J., Morueta-Holme, N., Newman, E., Park, D., Roehdranz, P., Svenning, J-C., Violle, C., Wieringa, I., Wynne, G., Fritz, S., Strassburg, B., Obersteiner, M., Kapos, V., Burgess, N., Schmidt-Traub, G., Visconti, P. (2021). NatureMap Priority maps to Areas of global importance for conserving terrestrial biodiversity, carbon, and water. 10.5281/zenodo.5006331.

Abstract:

With climate change, heat waves are becoming increasingly frequent, intense and broader in spatial extent. However, while the lethal effects of heat waves on humans are well documented, the impacts on flora are less well understood, perhaps except for crops. We summarize recent findings related to heat wave impacts including: sublethal and lethal effects at leaf and plant scales, secondary ecosystem effects, and more complex impacts such as increased heat wave frequency across all seasons, and interactions with other disturbances. We propose generalizable practical trials to quantify the critical bounding conditions of vulnerability to heat waves. Collectively, plant vulnerabilities to heat waves appear to be underappreciated and understudied, particularly with respect to understanding heat wave driven plant die-off and ecosystem tipping points.

Full Article Here

Citation:

 

Breshears, D.D., Fontaine, J.B., Ruthrof, K.X., Field, J.P., Feng, X., Burger, J.R., Law, D.J., Kala, J. and Hardy, G.E.S.J. (2021), Underappreciated plant vulnerabilities to heat waves. New Phytol, 231: 32-39. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.17348

2020

Abstract:

Darwin proposed two seemingly contradictory hypotheses regarding factors influencing the outcome of biological invasions. He initially posited that nonnative species closely related to native species would be more likely to successfully establish, because they might share adaptations to the local environment (preadaptation hypothesis). However, based on observations that the majority of naturalized plant species in the United States belonged to nonnative genera, he concluded that the lack of competitive exclusion would facilitate the establishment of alien invaders phylogenetically distinct from the native flora (competition-relatedness hypothesis). To date, no consensus has been reached regarding these opposing hypotheses. Here, following Darwin, we use the flora of the United States to examine patterns of taxonomic and phylogenetic relatedness between native and nonnative taxa across thousands of nested locations ranging in size and extent, from local to regional scales. We find that the probability of observing the signature of environmental filtering over that of competition increases with spatial scale. Further, native and nonnative species tended to be less related in warm, humid environments. Our work provides an empirical assessment of the role of observation scale and climate in biological invasions and demonstrates that Darwin’s two opposing hypotheses need not be mutually exclusive.

Full Article Here

Citation:

Park, DS, X Feng, BS Maitner, KC ErnstBJ Enquist (2020). Darwin’s naturalization conundrum can be explained by spatial scale. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1918100117

Abstract:

  1. Despite the many studies using trait-based approaches to assess the impact of environmental gradients in forest trait composition, the relative roles of (i) intraspecific variation in community assembly and (ii) microclimatic or fine scale abiotic variation in shaping local trait diversity remain poorly understood. To advance their understanding we tested several assumptions and predictions of trait driver theory (TDT). We quantified the shape of trait distributions related to tree carbon, nutrient economics and stem hydraulics across a small-scale but steep gradient of soil water availability.

  2. We utilized a unique and steep environmental gradient in the coastal Brazilian Atlantic forest (restinga) communities that spans a very short distance (207 ±60 meters). We collected leaf and wood samples of tree species across 42 patches (or plots) of restinga forest. Furthermore, to detect if species directionally shift in niche space, we analyzed species composition in multidimensional hypervolume space.

  3. Despite short geographic distances, we observed large shifts in species replacement and intraspecific variation reflected by a directional shift in plant function. Consistent with TDT, we observe (i) trait distributions that are skewed in directions consistent with a forest responding to recent hotter and drier; (ii) peaked trait distributions, indicating strong functional convergence; and (iii) conditions decreasing means and variances of several leaf carbon and nutrient economic traits as well as stem hydraulic traits.

  4. Synthesis. Observed species replacements along the water table gradient and interspecific measures of functional diversity (community kurtosis and skewness) are consistent with strong phenotype/environmental matching of plant carbon, nutrient, and hydraulic strategies. We observe environmental filtering in both extremities of the gradient, selecting for acquisitive (wet) to conservative (dry) setup of traits. Similarly, species that span the entire water availability gradient are characterized by directional intraspecific shifts in multi-trait space that mirror interspecific shifts. Strong environmental gradients across short spatial scales provide unique systems to accurately assess assembly processes and address long-held assumptions and timely hypothesis predicted by trait driver theory.

Full Article Here

Citation:

Lourenço Jr., J. E.A. Newman, C. Rozindo Dias Milanez, L. Dias Thomaz, B.J. Enquist. Assessing trait driver theory along abiotic gradients in a tropical plant communities. biorXiv (preprint at doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.15.950139).

Abstract:

Biodiversity conservation relies on effective practical methods for assessing species occurrences and distributions, particularly for elusive species. Generalist carnivores are widely distributed and relatively abundant predators with broad dietary ranges, and as such could potentially serve as “biodiversity samplers” of sympatric prey communities. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) diets to survey local vertebrate communities in several mountainous areas in China. Fecal DNA metabarcoding analysis revealed that leopard cat prey from five mountain ranges across China included 99 vertebrate taxa representing 12 taxonomic orders and red fox prey from two of those mountain ranges displayed a similar degree of diversity, which was highly correlated with local species records accrued by traditional survey methods. Our results show that diet metabarcoding analysis of generalist carnivores can be an effective, noninvasive, and economically viable tool for biodiversity monitoring to inform management decisions. In addition, we explored selection criteria and potential candidate species for carnivore sampler-based biodiversity studies in other parts of the world.

Full Article Here

Citation:

Feng, X, H Qiao, & BJ Enquist (2020). Doubling demands in programming skills call for ecoinformatics education. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment18(3), 123-124. doi.org/10.1002/fee.2179

 

2019

Abstract:

A Constraint-based model of Dynamic Island Biogeography: environmental history and species traits predict hysteresis in populations and communities We present a conceptual model that shows how hysteresis can emerge in dynamic island systems given simple constraints on trait-mediated processes. Over time, many islands cycle between phases of increasing and decreasing size and connectivity to a mainland species pool. As these phases alternate, the dominant process driving species composition switches between colonization and extinction. Both processes are mediated by interactions between organismal traits and environmental constraints: colonization probability is affected by a species’ ability to cross the intervening matrix between a population source and the island; population persistence (or extinction) is driven by the minimum spatial requirements for sustaining an isolated population. Because different suites of traits often mediate these two processes, similar environmental conditions can lead to differences in species compositions at two points of time. Thus, the Constraint-based model of Dynamic Island Biogeography (C-DIB) illustrates the possible role of hysteresis—the dependency of outcomes not only on the current system state but also the system’s history of environmental change—in affecting populations and communities in insular systems. The model provides a framework upon which additional considerations of lag times, biotic interactions, evolution, and other processes can be incorporated. Importantly, it provides a testable framework to study the physical and biological constraints on populations and communities across diverse taxa, scales, and systems.

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Citation:

Burger, JR, RP Anderson, MA Balk, TS Fristoe (2019). A Constraint-based model of Dynamic Island Biogeography: environmental history and species traits predict hysteresis in populations and communities. Frontiers of Biogeography. e44383, 11.3. doi.org/10.21425/F5FBG44383

Abstract:

A key feature of life’s diversity is that some species are common but many more are rare. Nonetheless, at global scales, we do not know what fraction of biodiversity consists of rare species. Here, we present the largest compilation of global plant diversity to quantify the fraction of Earth’s plant biodiversity that are rare. A large fraction, ~36.5% of Earth’s ~435,000 plant species, are exceedingly rare. Sampling biases and prominent models, such as neutral theory and the k-niche model, cannot account for the observed prevalence of rarity. Our results indicate that (i) climatically more stable regions have harbored rare species and hence a large fraction of Earth’s plant species via reduced extinction risk but that (ii) climate change and human land use are now disproportionately impacting rare species. Estimates of global species abundance distributions have important implications for risk assessments and conservation planning in this era of rapid global change.

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Citation:

Enquist, BJX Feng, B Boyle, B Maitner, EA Newman, PM Jørgensen, PR Roehrdanz, BM Theirs, JR Burger, RT Corlett, TLP Couvreur, G Dauby, JC Donoghue, W Foden, JC Lovett, PA Marquet, C Merow, G Midgley, N Morueta-Holme, DM Neves, AT Oliveira-Filho, NJB Kraft, DS Park, RK Peet, M Pillet, JM Serra-Diaz, B Sandel, M Schildhauer, I Šímová, C Violle, JJ Wieringa, SK Wiser, L Hannah, JC Svenning, BJ McGill (2019). The commonness of rarity: global and future distribution across the land plants. Science Advances 5(11), eaaz0414. doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aaz0414

Abstract:

The life histories of animals reflect the allocation of metabolic energy to traits that determine fitness and the pace of living. Here, we extend metabolic theories to address how demography and mass–energy balance constrain allocation of biomass to survival, growth, and reproduction over a life cycle of one generation. We first present data for diverse kinds of animals showing empirical patterns of variation in life-history traits. These patterns are predicted by theory that highlights the effects of 2 fundamental biophysical constraints: demography on number and mortality of offspring; and mass–energy balance on allocation of energy to growth and reproduction. These constraints impose 2 fundamental trade-offs on allocation of assimilated biomass energy to production: between number and size of offspring, and between parental investment and offspring growth. Evolution has generated enormous diversity of body sizes, morphologies, physiologies, ecologies, and life histories across the millions of animal, plant, and microbe species, yet simple rules specified by general equations highlight the underlying unity of life.

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Citation:

Burger, JR, C Hou, JH Brown (2019). Toward a metabolic theory of life history. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences116(52), 26653-26661. doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1907702116

Abstract:

The Maximum Entropy Theory of Ecology (METE), is a theoretical framework of macroecology that makes a variety of realistic ecological predictions about how species richness, abundance of species, metabolic rate distributions, and spatial aggregation of species interrelate in a given region. In the METE framework, “ecological state variables” (representing total area, total species richness, total abundance, and total metabolic energy) describe macroecological properties of an ecosystem. METE incorporates these state variables into constraints on underlying probability distributions. The method of Lagrange multipliers and maximization of information entropy (MaxEnt) lead to predicted functional forms of distributions of interest. We demonstrate how information entropy is maximized for the general case of a distribution, which has empirical information that provides constraints on the overall predictions. We then show how METE’s two core functions are derived. These functions, called the “Spatial Structure Function” and the “Ecosystem Structure Function” are the core pieces of the theory, from which all the predictions of METE follow (including the Species Area Relationship, the Species Abundance Distribution, and various metabolic distributions). Primarily, we consider the discrete distributions predicted by METE. We also explore the parameter space defined by the METE’s state variables and Lagrange multipliers. We aim to provide a comprehensive resource for ecologists who want to understand the derivations and assumptions of the basic mathematical structure of METE.

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Citation:

Brummer, AB, EA Newman (2019). Derivations of the Core Functions of the Maximum Entropy Theory of Ecology. Entropy. 21, 712. doi.org/10.3390/e21070712

Faculty Opinions Recommended

Abstract:

With the accumulating evidence of changing disturbance regimes becoming increasingly obvious, there is potential for disturbance ecology to become the most valuable lens through which climate-related disturbance events are interpreted. In this paper, I revisit some of the central themes of disturbance ecology and argue that the knowledge established in the field of disturbance ecology continues to be relevant to ecosystem management, even with rapid changes to disturbance regimes and changing disturbance types in local ecosystems. Disturbance ecology has been tremendously successful over the past several decades at elucidating the interactions between disturbances, biodiversity, and ecosystems, and this knowledge can be leveraged in different contexts. Primarily, management in changing and uncertain conditions should be focused primarily on the long-term persistence of that native biodiversity that has evolved within the local disturbance regime and is likely to go extinct with rapid changes to disturbance intensity, frequency, and type. Where possible, conserving aspects of natural disturbance regimes will be vital to preserving functioning ecosystems and to that native biodiversity that requires disturbance for its continued existence, though these situations may become more limited over time. Finally, scientists must actively propose management policies that incorporate knowledge of disturbance ecology. Successful policies regarding changing disturbance regimes for biodiversity will not merely be reactive, and will recognize that for natural ecosystems as for human society, not all desired outcomes are simultaneously possible.

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Citation:

Newman, EA (2019). Disturbance ecology in the Anthropocene. Front. Ecol. Evol. 7, 147. doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2019.00147

Abstract:

Endangered species laws seek to prevent extinction by outlawing actions that may cause harm or lead to extinction. In doing so, these laws are sometimes criticized for limiting management flexibility and subjecting landowners to regulatory burdens. One proposed solution to this challenge is development of payment for ecosystem service (PES) programs. These programs provide an economic incentive to conserve endangered species by compensating landowners for the costs of conservation or forgoing other profitable uses of land and resources. To assess the utility of PES as a means of overcoming opposition to endangered species regulations, we surveyed ranch operators in Arizona and New Mexico facing new regulations related to endangered jaguars (Panthera onca). Our findings suggest that PES cannot overcome the perceived burdens of species protection regulations and are unlikely to increase collaboration between landowners and government agencies. PES approaches are only likely to succeed where there is strong fit between institutional design and resource manager preferences. In the context of endangered species, PES proponents must pay particular attention to institutional arrangements that reduce concerns about regulatory risk. To this end, to effectively meet endangered species conservation goals, we recommend: 1) framing PES programs as voluntary conservation incentives, 2) focusing incentives on healthy ecosystems rather than a single species, and 3) using private funding to support incentives. Under these circumstances, PES may be an effective endangered species conservation tool.

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Citation:

Lien, AM, C Svancara, W Vanasco, G Ruyle, S Bonar, and L López-Hoffman (2019). Opportunities and barriers for endangered species conservation using payments for ecosystem services. Biological Conservationdoi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.01.017

Abstract:

Using contingent valuation, we estimated willingness to pay (WTP) in Canada, Mexico, and the United States to protect habitat for Northern Pintails (hereafter pintails), a migratory waterfowl species that provides benefits to and requires habitat in the three countries. Our study contributes to research on spatial subsidies by measuring the value of migratory species habitat. While WTP to protect pintail habitat is highest in the household's own country, there also is substantial WTP to protect pintail habitat in the other two countries. Canadian households' annual WTP is US$12 (all dollar values are in 2016 US dollars) to stabilize the pintail population in Canada, US$4 in Mexico, and US$5 in the U.S. Mexican households would pay US$8 in Mexico, US$5 in the U.S., and US$5 in Canada. U.S. households would pay US$28 in the U.S., US$18 in Canada, and US$16 in Mexico. WTP is statistically significantly higher in all three countries to increase the pintail population. WTP as a percentage of household income is statistically significantly higher for respondents in Mexico. WTP is logically related to explanatory variables such as respondent income, interest in hunting waterfowl, and financial support of wildlife conservation organizations. This study has important implications for conducting economic analyses of habitat issues of transboundary migratory species' conservation and to more effectively and equitably achieve conservation goals.

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Citation:

Haefele, M, J Loomis, AM Lien, JA Dubovsky, R Merideth, K Bagstad, T Huang, B Mattsson, D Semmens, W Thogmartin, R Wiederholt, J Diffendorfer, L López-Hoffman (2019). Multi- Country Willingness to Pay for Transbondary Migratory Species Conservation: A Case Study of Northern Pintails. Ecological Economicsdoi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2018.11.024

Abstract:

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) provides a trove of data on how environmental policy decisions have been made in the United States over the last 50 years. Unfortunately, there is no central database for this information and it is too voluminous to assess manually. We describe our efforts to enable systematic research over US environmental policy by extracting and organizing metadata from the text of NEPA documents. Our contributions include collecting more than 40,000 NEPA-related documents, and evaluating rule-based baselines that establish the difficulty of three important tasks: identifying lead agencies, aligning document versions, and detecting reused text.

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Citation:

Bethard, S, E Laparra, S Wang, Y Zhao, R Al-Ghezi, AM LienL López-Hoffman (2019). Inferring missing metadata from environmental policy texts. June 2019, Proceedings of the Workshop on Language Technologies for the Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities. Minneapolis, MN. doi.org/10.18653/v1/W19-2506

2018

Abstract:

Many economic studies value birdwatching in general and often do not account for potential differences in viewers’ benefits from observing different species. But, how different are economic values of viewing various bird species? To answer that question, we surveyed Ducks Unlimited (DU) members using an online questionnaire to estimate trip expenditures and consumer surplus per trip for viewing pintail ducks, waterfowl in general, and other species of waterfowl. Expenditures per trip were USD $231, $199, and $182, respectively. Consumer surpluses per trip, estimated using the contingent valuation method, were $28, $32, and $29, respectively. Neither expenditures nor consumer surplus were statistically different among species for DU members who are adept at species differentiation. Our results suggest that it may be reasonable to use a general economic value for waterfowl viewing when formulating management alternatives for a variety of waterfowl.

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Citation:

Loomis, J, M Haefele, J Dubovsky, AM Lien, WE Thogmartin, J Diffendorfer, D Humburg, K Bagstad, BJ Mattsson, L López- HoffmanR Merideth, and D Semmens (2018). Do economic values and expenditures for viewing waterfowl in the U.S. differ among species? Human Dimensions of Wildlifedoi.org/10.1080/10871209.2018.1496371

Abstract:

Payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes are governed by complex institutional arrangements. Specific rules are needed to control who can participate in buying and selling of services, under what circumstances participation is allowed, how transactions are regulated, and many other actions. Decisions made by the developers of PES schemes about what rules to include and what form these rules take are likely to have an impact on the eventual success or failure of the scheme. This paper applies the Institutional Analysis and Develop Framework’s rules typology and Institutional Grammar Tool to develop a new method of classifying and summarizing institutional arrangements of PES schemes. We use 21 water quality trading schemes and develop the institutional rules classification and summary system. The classification system enables comparative assessment of institutional diversity across PES schemes. We demonstrate the utility of the classification system for this purpose by showing that there is significant institutional diversity among water quality trading schemes, despite their common environmental objectives and market-based approaches to addressing environmental challenges. We conclude with suggestions for applying the classification system to comparative research to understand the effectiveness of PES schemes generally and how differences in institutional arrangements may contribute to success or failure.

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Citation:

Lien, AM, A Lona, and E Schlager (2018). Using institutional grammar to improve understanding of the form and function of payment for ecosystem services programs. Ecosystem Servicesdoi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2018.03.011

Abstract:

There has been significant study of barriers to implementation of payment for ecosystem services in Indigenous communities in less developed countries. These barriers include land tenure insecurity and lack of access to capital. However, there is no similar research in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. Our research fills this gap. We hypothesize that mismatches between the traditional land tenure regimes and institutional arrangements of Indigenous communities on one hand, and government sponsors of PES programs on the other hand, result in the lack of success of these programs. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a qualitative study of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) on the Hopi reservation in the United States. We answer two questions: (1) What barriers prevent Hopi ranchers and farmers from participating in incentive-based programs? (2) What institutional changes are necessary to permit Hopi farmer and rancher participation in EQIP? We analyzed primary documents and conducted key informant interviews. We conclude that land tenure is at the forefront of problems associated with administering PES programs in Indigenous communities. Without new approaches addressing the land tenure regimes in Indigenous communities, PES will continue to struggle on American Indian reservations and around the world.

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Citation:

Johnson, M, AM LienL López-Hoffman (2018). Barriers associated with the Environmental Quality Improvement Program: Case study on the Hopi Indian Reservation. Ecosystem Servicesdoi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2018.05.009

Abstract:

We estimated U.S. and Mexican citizens’ willingness to pay (WTP) for protecting habitat for a transborder migratory species, the Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis mexicana), using the contingent valuation method. Few contingent valuation surveys have evaluated whether households in one country would pay to protect habitat in another country. This study addresses that gap. In our study, Mexican respondents were asked about their WTP for conservation of Mexican free-tailed bat habitat in Mexico and in the United States. Similarly, U.S. respondents were asked about their WTP for conservation in the United States and in Mexico. U.S. households would pay $30 annually to protect habitat in the United States and $24 annually to protect habitat in Mexico. Mexican households would pay $8 annually to protect habitat in Mexico and $5 annually to protect habitat in the United States. In both countries, these WTP amounts rose significantly for increasing the size of the bat population rather than simply stabilizing the current bat population. The ratio of Mexican household WTP relative to U.S. household WTP is nearly identical to that of Mexican household income relative to U.S. household income. This suggests that the perceived economic benefits received from the bats is similar in Mexico and the United States, and that scaling WTP by relative income in international benefit transfer may be plausible.

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Citation:

Haefele, M, J Loomis, R MeridethAM Lien, J Dubovsky, WE Thogmartin, J Diffendorfer, D Humburg, K Bagstad, BJ Mattsson, R Wiederholt, D Semmens, and L López-Hoffman (2018). Willingness to Pay for Conservation of Transborder Migratory Species: A Case Study of the Mexican Free-tailed Bat in the United States and Mexico. Environmental Managementdoi.org/10.1007/s00267-018-1046-1