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JournalISSN: 1051-0761

Ecological Applications 

About: Ecological Applications is an academic journal. The journal publishes majorly in the area(s): Population & Species richness. It has an ISSN identifier of 1051-0761. Over the lifetime, 4868 publication(s) have been published receiving 456025 citation(s).
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Given their current scale, biotic invasions have taken their place alongside human-driven atmospheric and oceanic alterations as major agents of global change and left unchecked, they will influence these other forces in profound but still unpredictable ways.
Abstract: Biotic invaders are species that establish a new range in which they proliferate, spread, and persist to the detriment of the environment. They are the most important ecological outcomes from the unprecedented alterations in the distribution of the earth's biota brought about largely through human transport and commerce. In a world without borders, few if any areas remain sheltered from these im- migrations. The fate of immigrants is decidedly mixed. Few survive the hazards of chronic and stochastic forces, and only a small fraction become naturalized. In turn, some naturalized species do become invasive. There are several potential reasons why some immigrant species prosper: some escape from the constraints of their native predators or parasites; others are aided by human-caused disturbance that disrupts native communities. Ironically, many biotic invasions are apparently facilitated by cultivation and husbandry, unintentional actions that foster immigrant populations until they are self-perpetuating and uncontrollable. Whatever the cause, biotic invaders can in many cases inflict enormous environmental damage: (1) Animal invaders can cause extinctions of vulnerable native species through predation, grazing, competition, and habitat alteration. (2) Plant invaders can completely alter the fire regime, nutrient cycling, hydrology, and energy budgets in a native ecosystem and can greatly diminish the abundance or survival of native species. (3) In agriculture, the principal pests of temperate crops are nonindigenous, and the combined expenses of pest control and crop losses constitute an onerous "tax" on food, fiber, and forage production. (4) The global cost of virulent plant and animal diseases caused by parasites transported to new ranges and presented with susceptible new hosts is currently incalculable. Identifying future invaders and taking effective steps to prevent their dispersal and establishment con- stitutes an enormous challenge to both conservation and international commerce. Detection and management when exclusion fails have proved daunting for varied reasons: (1) Efforts to identify general attributes of future invaders have often been inconclusive. (2) Predicting susceptible locales for future invasions seems even more problematic, given the enormous differences in the rates of arrival among potential invaders. (3) Eradication of an established invader is rare, and control efforts vary enormously in their efficacy. Successful control, however, depends more on commitment and continuing diligence than on the efficacy of specific tools themselves. (4) Control of biotic invasions is most effective when it employs a long-term, ecosystem- wide strategy rather than a tactical approach focused on battling individual invaders. (5) Prevention of invasions is much less costly than post-entry control. Revamping national and international quarantine laws by adopting a "guilty until proven innocent" approach would be a productive first step. Failure to address the issue of biotic invasions could effectively result in severe global consequences, including wholesale loss of agricultural, forestry, and fishery resources in some regions, disruption of the ecological processes that supply natural services on which human enterprise depends, and the creation of homogeneous, impoverished ecosystems composed of cosmopolitan species. Given their current scale, biotic invasions have taken their place alongside human-driven atmospheric and oceanic alterations as major agents of global change. Left unchecked, they will influence these other forces in profound but still unpredictable ways.

5,846 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Nitrogen is a key element controlling the species composition, diversity, dynamics, and functioning of many terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. Many of the original plant species living in these ecosystems are adapted to, and function optimally in, soils and solutions with low levels of available nitrogen. The growth and dynamics of herbivore populations, and ultimately those of their predators, also are affected by N. Agriculture, combustion of fossil fuels, and other human activities have altered the global cycle of N substantially, generally increasing both the availability and the mobility of N over large regions of Earth. The mobility of N means that while most deliberate applications of N occur locally, their influence spreads regionally and even globally. Moreover, many of the mobile forms of N themselves have environmental consequences. Although most nitrogen inputs serve human needs such as agricultural production, their environmental conse- quences are serious and long term. Based on our review of available scientific evidence, we are certain that human alterations of the nitrogen cycle have: 1) approximately doubled the rate of nitrogen input into the terrestrial nitrogen cycle, with these rates still increasing; 2) increased concentrations of the potent greenhouse gas N 2O globally, and increased concentrations of other oxides of nitrogen that drive the formation of photochemical smog over large regions of Earth; 3) caused losses of soil nutrients, such as calcium and potassium, that are essential for the long-term maintenance of soil fertility; 4) contributed substantially to the acidification of soils, streams, and lakes in several regions; and 5) greatly increased the transfer of nitrogen through rivers to estuaries and coastal oceans. In addition, based on our review of available scientific evidence we are confident that human alterations of the nitrogen cycle have: 6) increased the quantity of organic carbon stored within terrestrial ecosystems; 7) accelerated losses of biological diversity, especially losses of plants adapted to efficient use of nitrogen, and losses of the animals and microorganisms that depend on them; and 8) caused changes in the composition and functioning of estuarine and nearshore ecosystems, and contributed to long-term declines in coastal marine fisheries.

5,466 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Agriculture and urban activities are major sources of phosphorus and nitrogen to aquatic ecosystems. Atmospheric deposition further contributes as a source of N. These nonpoint inputs of nutrients are difficult to measure and regulate because they derive from activities dispersed over wide areas of land and are variable in time due to effects of weather. In aquatic ecosystems, these nutrients cause diverse problems such as toxic algal blooms, loss of oxygen, fish kills, loss of biodiversity (including species important for commerce and recreation), loss of aquatic plant beds and coral reefs, and other problems. Nutrient enrichment seriously degrades aquatic ecosystems and impairs the use of water for drinking, industry, agriculture, recreation, and other purposes. Based on our review of the scientific literature, we are certain that (1) eutrophication is a widespread problem in rivers, lakes, estuaries, and coastal oceans, caused by overenrichment with P and N; (2) nonpoint pollution, a major source of P and N to surface waters of the United States, results primarily from agriculture and urban activity, including industry; (3) inputs of P and N to agriculture in the form of fertilizers exceed outputs in produce in the United States and many other nations; (4) nutrient flows to aquatic ecosystems are directly related to animal stocking densities, and under high livestock densities, manure production exceeds the needs of crops to which the manure is applied; (5) excess fertilization and manure production cause a P surplus to accumulate in soil, some of which is transported to aquatic ecosystems; and (6) excess fertilization and manure production on agricultural lands create surplus N, which is mobile in many soils and often leaches to downstream aquatic ecosystems, and which can also volatilize to the atmosphere, redepositing elsewhere and eventually reaching aquatic ecosystems. If current practices continue, nonpoint pollution of surface waters is virtually certain to increase in the future. Such an outcome is not inevitable, however, because a number of technologies, land use practices, and conservation measures are capable of decreasing the flow of nonpoint P and N into surface waters. From our review of the available scientific information, we are confident that: (1) nonpoint pollution of surface waters with P and N could be reduced by reducing surplus nutrient flows in agricultural systems and processes, reducing agricultural and urban runoff by diverse methods, and reducing N emissions from fossil fuel burning; and (2) eutrophication can be reversed by decreasing input rates of P and N to aquatic ecosystems, but rates of recovery are highly variable among water bodies. Often, the eutrophic state is persistent, and recovery is slow.

5,265 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: As the largest pool of terrestrial organic carbon, soils interact strongly with atmospheric composition, climate, and land cover change. Our capacity to predict and ameliorate the consequences of global change depends in part on a better understanding of the distributions and controls of soil organic carbon (SOC) and how vegetation change may affect SOC distributions with depth. The goals of this paper are (1) to examine the association of SOC content with climate and soil texture at different soil depths; (2) to test the hypothesis that vegetation type, through patterns of allocation, is a dominant control on the vertical distribution of SOC; and (3) to estimate global SOC storage to 3 m, including an analysis of the potential effects of vegetation change on soil carbon storage. We based our analysis on .2700 soil profiles in three global databases supplemented with data for climate, vegetation, and land use. The analysis focused on mineral soil layers. Plant functional types significantly affected the vertical distribution of SOC. The per- centage of SOC in the top 20 cm (relative to the first meter) averaged 33%, 42%, and 50% for shrublands, grasslands, and forests, respectively. In shrublands, the amount of SOC in the second and third meters was 77% of that in the first meter; in forests and grasslands, the totals were 56% and 43%, respectively. Globally, the relative distribution of SOC with depth had a slightly stronger association with vegetation than with climate, but the opposite was true for the absolute amount of SOC. Total SOC content increased with precipitation and clay content and decreased with temperature. The importance of these controls switched with depth, climate dominating in shallow layers and clay content dominating in deeper layers, possibly due to increasing percentages of slowly cycling SOC fractions at depth. To control for the effects of climate on vegetation, we grouped soils within climatic ranges and compared distributions for vegetation types within each range. The percentage of SOC in the top 20 cm relative to the first meter varied from 29% in cold arid shrublands to 57% in cold humid forests and, for a given climate, was always deepest in shrublands, inter- mediate in grasslands, and shallowest in forests ( P , 0.05 in all cases). The effect of vegetation type was more important than the direct effect of precipitation in this analysis. These data suggest that shoot/root allocations combined with vertical root distributions, affect the distribution of SOC with depth. Global SOC storage in the to p3mo fsoil was 2344 Pg C, or 56% more than the 1502 Pg estimated for the first meter (which is similar to the total SOC estimates of 1500-1600 Pg made by other researchers). Global totals for the second and third meters were 491 and 351 Pg C, and the biomes with the most SOC at 1-3 m depth were tropical evergreen forests (158 Pg C) and tropical grasslands/savannas (146 Pg C). Our work suggests that plant functional types, through differences in allocation, help to control SOC distributions with depth in the soil. Our analysis also highlights the potential importance of vegetation change and SOC pools for carbon sequestration strategies.

3,752 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Satellite-monitoring of the abundance of open water in the peatlands of the West Siberian Plain and the Hudson/James Bay Lowland is suggested as a likely method of detecting early effects of climatic warming upon boreal and subarctic peatland environments.
Abstract: Boreal and subarctic peatlands comprise a carbon pool of 455 Pg that has accumulated during the postglacial period at an average net rate of 0.096 Pg/yr (1 Pg = 1015g). Using Clymo's (1984) model, the current rate is estimated at 0.076 Pg/yr. Longterm drainage of these peatlands is estimated to be causing the oxidation to CO2 of a little more than 0.0085 Pg/yr, with conbustion of fuel peat adding °0.026 Pg/yr. Emissions of CH4 are estimated to release ° 0.046 Pg of carbon annually. Uncertainties beset estimates of both stocks and fluxes, particularly with regard to Soviet peatlands. The influence of water table alterations upon fluxes of both CO2 and CH4 is in great need of investigation over a wide range of peatland environments, especially in regions where permafrost melting, thermokarst erosion, and the development of thaw lakes are likely results of climatic warming. The role of fire in the carbon cycle of peatlands also deserves increased attention. Finally, satellite—monitoring of the abundance of open water in the peatlands of the West Siberian Plain and the Hudson/James Bay Lowland is suggested as a likely method of detecting early effects of climatic warming upon boreal and subarctic peatlands.

3,357 citations

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