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Global change is likely to affect invasive species distribution, especially at range margins. In the eastern Sierra Nevada, California, USA, the invasive annual grass, Bromus tectorum, is patchily distributed and its impacts have been minimal compared with other areas of the Intermountain West. We used a series of in situ field manipulations to determine how B. tectorum might respond to changing climatic conditions and increased nitrogen deposition at the high-elevation edge of its invaded range. Over 3 years, we used snow fences to simulate changes in snowpack, irrigation to simulate increased frequency and magnitude of springtime precipitation, and added nitrogen (N) at three levels (0, 5, and 10 g m-2) to natural...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Global Change Biology
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Though biological soil crusts (biocrusts) form abundant covers in arid and semiarid regions, their competing effects on soil hydrologic conditions are rarely accounted for in models. This study presents the modification of a soil water balance model to account for the presence of biocrusts at different levels of development (LOD) and their impact on one-dimensional hydrologic processes during warm and cold seasons. The model is developed, tested, and applied to study the hydrologic controls of biocrusts in context of a long-term manipulative experiment equipped with meteorological and soil moisture measurements in a Colorado Plateau ecosystem near Moab, Utah. The climate manipulation treatments resulted in distinct...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecohydrology
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In most drylands, biological soil crusts (biocrusts), an assemblage of lichens, bryophytes, fungi, green algae, and cyanobacteria, are critical to healthy ecosystem function. However, they are extremely sensitive to disturbance and attempts to facilitate their recovery have had variable success. In this study, we applied soil amendments designed to improve soil surface stability and accelerate biocrust recovery on an area disturbed by oil/gas exploration vehicles. Treatments included: 1) Control (one time water only); 2) Biocrust‐only: biocrust inoculum + nutrients in water; 3) Polyacrylamide gels (PAM; which are known to stabilize soils) + biocrust inoculum + nutrients in water; 4) Gypsum + biocrust inoculum +...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Restoration Ecology
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Biological soil crusts arrest soil erosion and supply nitrogen to arid ecosystems. To understand their recovery from disturbance, we studied performances of Collema spp. lichens relative to four experimental treatments plus microtopography of soil pedicels, oriented north-northwest to south-southeast in crusts. At sites in Needles (NDLS) and Island in the Sky (ISKY) districts of Canyonlands National Park, lichens were transplanted to NNW, SSE, ENE, WSW, and TOP pedicel faces and exposed to a full-factorial, randomized block experiment with four treatments: nutrient addition (P and K), soil stabilization with polyacrylamide resin (PAM), added cyanobacterial fiber, and biweekly watering.After 14.5 mo (NDLS) and 24...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Biological soil crusts (biocrusts) are common and ecologically important members of dryland ecosystems worldwide, where they stabilize soil surfaces and contribute newly fixed C and N to soils. To test the impacts of predicted climate change scenarios on biocrusts in a dryland ecosystem, the effects of a 2–3 °C increase in soil temperature and an increased frequency of smaller summer precipitation events were examined in a large, replicated field study conducted in the cold desert of the Colorado Plateau, USA. Surface soil biomass (DNA concentration), photosynthetically active cyanobacterial biomass (chlorophyll a concentration), cyanobacterial abundance (quantitative PCR assay), and bacterial community composition...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Global Change Biology
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Biological soil crusts arrest soil erosion and supply nitrogen to arid ecosystems. To understand their recovery from disturbance, we studied performances of Collema spp. lichens relative to four experimental treatments plus microtopography of soil pedicels, oriented north-northwest to south-southeast in crusts. At sites in Needles (NDLS) and Island in the Sky (ISKY) districts of Canyonlands National Park, lichens were transplanted to NNW, SSE, ENE, WSW, and TOP pedicel faces and exposed to a full-factorial, randomized block experiment with four treatments: nutrient addition (P and K), soil stabilization with polyacrylamide resin (PAM), added cyanobacterial fiber, and biweekly watering.After 14.5 mo (NDLS) and 24...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Hotter and drier conditions projected for the southwestern United States can have a large impact on the abundance and composition of long-lived desert plant species. We used long-term vegetation monitoring results from 39 large plots across four protected sites in the Sonoran Desert region to determine how plant species have responded to past climate variability. This cross-site analysis identified the plant species and functional types susceptible to climate change, the magnitude of their responses, and potential climate thresholds. In the relatively mesic mesquite savanna communities, perennial grasses declined with a decrease in annual precipitation, cacti increased, and there was a reversal of the Prosopis velutina...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Global Change Biology
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How plant populations, communities, and ecosystems respond to climate change is a critical focus in ecology today. The responses of introduced species may be especially rapid. Current models that incorporate temperature and precipitation suggest that future Bromus tectorum invasion risk is low for the Colorado Plateau. With a field warming experiment at two sites in southeastern Utah, we tested this prediction over 4 years, measuring B. tectorum phenology, biomass, and reproduction. In a complimentary greenhouse study, we assessed whether changes in field B. tectorum biomass and reproductive output influence offspring performance. We found that following a wet winter and early spring, the timing of spring growth...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Evolution
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1. The gelatinous cyanobacterial Collema tenax is a dominant lichen of biotic soil crusts in the western United States. In laboratory experiments, we studied CO2 exchange of this species as dependent on water content (WC), light and temperature. Results are compared with performance of green-algal lichens of the same site investigated earlier.2. As compared with published data, photosynthetic capacity of C. tenax is higher than that of other cyanobacterial and green-algal soil-crust species studied. At all temperatures and photon flux densities of ecological relevance, net photosynthesis (NP) shows a strong depression at high degrees of hydration; maximal apparent quantum-use efficiency of CO2 fixation is also reduced....
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Functional Ecology
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Aeolian and fluvial processes play a fundamental role in dryland regions of the world and have important environmental and ecological consequences from local to global scales. Although both processes operate over similar spatial and temporal scales and are likely strongly coupled in many dryland systems, aeolian and fluvial processes have traditionally been studied separately, making it difficult to assess their relative importance in drylands, as well as their potential for synergistic interaction. Land degradation by accelerated wind and water erosion is a major problem throughout the world's drylands, and although recent studies suggest that these processes likely interact across broad spatial and temporal scales...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecohydrology
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Biological soil crusts (biocrusts) are common to drylands worldwide. We employed replicated, spatially nested sampling and 16S rRNA gene sequencing to describe the soil microbial communities in three soils derived from different parent material (sandstone, shale, and gypsum). For each soil type, two depths (biocrusts, 0–1 cm; below-crust soils, 2–5 cm) and two horizontal spatial scales (15 cm and 5 m) were sampled. In all three soils, Cyanobacteria and Proteobacteria demonstrated significantly higher relative abundance in the biocrusts, while Chloroflexi and Archaea were significantly enriched in the below-crust soils. Biomass and diversity of the communities in biocrusts or below-crust soils did not differ with...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: FEMS Microbiology Ecology
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Many drylands, including the south-western United States, are projected to become more water-limited as these regions become warmer and drier with climate change. Such chronic drought may push individual species or plant functional types beyond key thresholds leading to reduced growth or even mortality. Indeed, recent observational and experimental evidence from the Colorado Plateau suggests that C3 grasses are the most vulnerable to chronic drought, while C4 grasses and C3 shrubs appear to have greater resistance.The effects of chronic, or press-drought are predicted to begin at the physiological level and translate up to higher hierarchical levels. To date, the drought resistance of C4grasses and C3 shrubs in...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Journal of Ecology
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In arid regions, biomes particularly responsive to climate change, mosses play an important biogeochemical role as key components of biocrusts. Using the biocrust moss Syntrichia caninervis collected from the Nevada Desert Free Air CO2 Enrichment Facility, we examined the physiological effects of 10 years of exposure to elevated CO2, and the effect of high temperature events on the photosynthetic performance of moss grown in CO2-enriched air. Moss exposed to elevated CO2 exhibited a 46% decrease in chlorophyll, a 20% increase in carbon and no difference in either nitrogen content or photosynthetic performance. However, when subjected to high temperatures (35–40°C), mosses from the elevated CO2 environment showed...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Physiologia Plantarum
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Rangeland degradation, typified by extensive bare ground and soil erosion, is a serious problem around the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, rangeland degradation threatens the food security of millions of people who depend on livestock and the region's large mammalian wildlife diversity. We tested the ability of five simple, low-cost erosion barriers to promote grass and forb establishment in a bare ground-dominated rangeland in Kenya. These treatments were: (1) trenches with small berms; (2) bundles of branches; and bundles of branches with (3) elephant dung balls, (4) burlap sacking, or (5) nylon mesh sacking inside them. We also tested whether barrier performance depended on (1) supplemental seeding with the grass...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Restoration Ecology
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In low-resource ecosystems, competition among primary producers can be reduced through the partitioning of limiting resources in space or time. Partitioning, coupled with species interactions, can be a source of ecosystem stability by retaining resources within a biotic “loop” and slowing losses due to physical processes, such as erosion, gaseous loss, or leaching. Such coupling occurs in marine food webs (the microbial loop), where positive interactions among microbes limit losses of nutrients that would otherwise drop to the ocean floor (Fenchel, 2008). Likewise, mycorrhizal fungi in tropical rainforests may rapidly recycle litter nutrients back to canopy trees, preventing leaching driven by high rainfall (Hattenschwiler...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: American Journal of Botany
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1. Drylands represent our planet's largest terrestrial biome and, due to their extensive area, maintain large stocks of carbon (C). Accordingly, understanding how dryland C cycling will respond to climate change is imperative for accurately forecasting global C cycling and future climate. However, it remains difficult to predict how increased temperature will affect dryland C cycling, as substantial uncertainties surround the potential responses of the two main C fluxes: plant photosynthesis and soil CO2 efflux. In addition to a need for an improved understanding of climate effects on individual dryland C fluxes, there is also notable uncertainty regarding how climate change may influence the relationship between...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Functional Ecology
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Species interactions play key roles in linking the responses of populations, communities, and ecosystems to environmental change. For instance, species interactions are an important determinant of the complexity of changes in trophic biomass with variation in resources. Water resources are a major driver of terrestrial ecology and climate change is expected to greatly alter the distribution of this critical resource. While previous studies have documented strong effects of global environmental change on species interactions in general, responses can vary from region to region. Dryland ecosystems occupy more than one-third of the Earth's land mass, are greatly affected by changes in water availability, and are predicted...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Biological Reviews
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Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRF or T-RFLP) analysis and 16S rDNA sequence analysis from clone libraries were used to examine cyanobacterial diversity in three types of predominant soil crusts in an arid grassland. Total DNA was extracted from cyanobacteria-, lichen-, or moss-dominated crusts that represent different successional stages in crust development, and which contribute different amounts of carbon and nitrogen into the ecosystem. Cyanobacterial 16S rRNA genes were amplified by PCR using cyanobacteria-specific 16S rDNA primers. Both TRF and clone sequence analyses indicated that the cyanobacterial crust type is dominated by strains of Microcoleus vaginatus, but also contains other cyanobacterial...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: FEMS Microbiology Ecology
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Dryland wind transport of sediment can accelerate soil erosion, degrade air quality, mobilize dunes, decrease water supply, and damage infrastructure. We measured aeolian sediment horizontal mass flux (q) at 100 cm height using passive aspirated sediment traps to better understand q variability on the Colorado Plateau. Measured q‘hot spots’ rival the highest ever recorded including 7,460 g m−2 day−1 in an off‐highway vehicle (OHV) area, but were more commonly 50‐2,000 g m−2 day−1. Overall mean q on rangeland sites was 5.14 g m−2 day−1, considerably lower than areas with concentrated livestock use (9‐19 g m−2 day−1), OHV use (414 g m−2 day−1), and downwind of unpaved roads (13.14 g m−2 day−1), but were higher than...
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The Colorado Plateau is one of North America's five major deserts, encompassing 340,000 km2 of the western U.S., and offering many opportunities for restoration relevant to researchers and land managers in drylands around the globe. The Colorado Plateau is comprised of vast tracts of public land managed by local, state, and federal agencies that oversee a wide range of activities (e.g., mineral and energy extraction, livestock grazing, and recreation). About 75% of the Plateau is managed by federal and tribal agencies and tens of millions of people visit the Plateau's public lands each year. However, even in the face of this diverse use, our knowledge of effective ways to restore Plateau ecosystems remains relatively...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Restoration Ecology


    map background search result map search result map Global change effects on <i>Bromus tectorum</i> L. (Poaceae) at its high-elevation range margin Eco-evolutionary responses of <i>Bromus tectorum</i> to climate change: implications for biological invasions Dryland soil microbial communities display spatial biogeographic patterns associated with soil depth and soil parent material Eco-evolutionary responses of <i>Bromus tectorum</i> to climate change: implications for biological invasions Dryland soil microbial communities display spatial biogeographic patterns associated with soil depth and soil parent material Global change effects on <i>Bromus tectorum</i> L. (Poaceae) at its high-elevation range margin