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Hydrologic regulation of plant rooting depth

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 40. (03 October 2017), pp. 10572-10577,


[Significance] Knowledge of plant rooting depth is critical to understanding plant-mediated global change. Earth system models are highly sensitive to this particular parameter with large consequences for modeled plant productivity, water–energy–carbon exchange between the land and the atmosphere, and silicate weathering regulating multimillion-year-timescale carbon cycle. However, we know little about how deep roots go and why. Accidental discoveries of >70-m-deep roots in wells and >20-m-deep roots in caves offer glimpses of the enormous plasticity of root response to its environment, but the ...


Emerging role of wetland methane emissions in driving 21st century climate change

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 36. (05 September 2017), pp. 9647-9652,


[Significance] Conventional greenhouse gas mitigation policies ignore the role of global wetlands in emitting methane (CH4) from feedbacks associated with changing climate. Here we investigate wetland feedbacks and whether, and to what degree, wetlands will exceed anthropogenic 21st century CH4 emissions using an ensemble of climate projections and a biogeochemical methane model with dynamic wetland area and permafrost. Our results reveal an emerging contribution of global wetland CH4 emissions due to processes mainly related to the sensitivity of methane emissions to temperature ...


How disturbance, competition and dispersal interact to prevent tree range boundaries from keeping pace with climate change

Global Change Biology (28 July 2017),


Climate change is expected to cause geographic shifts in tree species’ ranges, but such shifts may not keep pace with climate changes because seed dispersal distances are often limited and competition-induced changes in community composition can be relatively slow. Disturbances may speed changes in community composition, but the interactions among climate change, disturbance and competitive interactions to produce range shifts are poorly understood. We used a physiologically-based mechanistic landscape model to study these interactions in the northeastern United States. We designed ...


Scientific opinion on the pest categorisation of Cryphonectria parasitica (Murrill) Barr

EFSA Journal, Vol. 12, No. 10. (1 October 2014), pp. n/a-n/a,


The European Commission requested the EFSA Panel on Plant Health to perform a pest categorisation of Cryphonectria parasitica (Murrill) Barr, the fungal pathogen responsible for chestnut blight, a highly destructive disease that kills trees through bark cankers. The pathogen is listed in Annex IIAII of Directive 2000/29/EC. Its identity is clearly defined as C.parasitica (Murrill) Barr and methods exist for its discriminative detection. Several hosts are known, but the main hosts are species of Castanea and Quercus, particularly C.sativa and Q.petraea. ...


  1. Adamcikova, K., Kobza, M., Juhasova, G., 2010. Characteristics of the Cryphonectria parasitica isolated from Quercus in Slovakia. Forest Pathology 40, 443–449.
  2. Adamcikova, K., Juhasova, G., Kobza, M., Ondruskova, E., 2013. Diversity of microfungi on branches of Castanea sativa in Slovakia. Polish Botanical Journal 58, 741–746.
  3. Aguín Casal, O., Montenegro Gregorio, D., Pérez Otero, R., Mansilla Vázquez, J.P., 2005. VI Congreso Forestal Español, Zaragoza 2005. Available online: .

Nitrogen-fixing trees inhibit growth of regenerating Costa Rican rainforests

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 33. (15 August 2017), pp. 8817-8822,


[Significance] Regrowing tropical forests are critical for global biodiversity conservation and carbon capture. Nitrogen availability often controls how fast these forests can regrow. Because nitrogen-fixing plants are the primary source of new nitrogen into these forests, one might expect that more nitrogen fixers lead to faster forest regrowth. However, here we show that nitrogen fixers actually slow forest regrowth. Their competitive influence on neighboring trees outweighs any growth enhancement from their nitrogen inputs at this site. Our results call for a more ...


Biodiversity conservation: the key is reducing meat consumption

Science of The Total Environment, Vol. 536 (December 2015), pp. 419-431,


The consumption of animal-sourced food products by humans is one of the most powerful negative forces affecting the conservation of terrestrial ecosystems and biological diversity. Livestock production is the single largest driver of habitat loss, and both livestock and feedstock production are increasing in developing tropical countries where the majority of biological diversity resides. Bushmeat consumption in Africa and southeastern Asia, as well as the high growth-rate of per capita livestock consumption in China are of special concern. The projected land ...


Climate-driven tree mortality: insights from the piñon pine die-off in the United States

New Phytologist, Vol. 200, No. 2. (October 2013), pp. 301-303,


The global climate is changing, and a range of negative effects on plants has already been observed and will likely continue into the future. One of the most apparent consequences of climate change is widespread tree mortality (Fig. 1). Extensive tree die-offs resulting from recent climate change have been documented across a range of forest types on all forested continents (Allen et al., 2010). The exact physiological mechanisms causing this mortality are not yet well understood (e.g. McDowell, 2011), but they ...


Influence of tree species on continental differences in boreal fires and climate feedbacks

Nature Geoscience, Vol. 8, No. 3. (2 February 2015), pp. 228-234,


Wildfires are common in boreal forests around the globe and strongly influence ecosystem processes. However, North American forests support more high-intensity crown fires than Eurasia, where lower-intensity surface fires are common. These two types of fire can result in different net effects on climate as a consequence of their contrasting impacts on terrestrial albedo and carbon stocks. Here we use remote-sensing imagery, climate reanalysis data and forest inventories to evaluate differences in boreal fire dynamics between North America and Eurasia and ...


Behavioral self-organization underlies the resilience of a coastal ecosystem

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 30. (25 July 2017), pp. 8035-8040,


[Significance] Theoretical models suggest that spatial self-organization enhances the resistance of ecosystems to disturbance. However, experiments investigating this important prediction are lacking. Our paper provides clear experimental evidence that spatial self-organization profoundly increases the ability of ecosystems to persist in the face of disturbance. The mechanisms underlying this positive impact of self-organization are driven by the combination of ecological and behavioral processes. Specifically, large-scale banded patterns in mussel beds created by ecological feedback processes facilitate fast behavioral aggregation of individual mussels into ...


Regular patterns link individual behavior to population persistence

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 30. (25 July 2017), pp. 7747-7749,


[Excerpt] Resisting and recovering from disturbances is a necessity for most species. The strategy is sometimes collective, depending on the aggregation of interacting individuals into regular patterns. However, relating patterns of abundance across scales to both individual behavior and population persistence remains a major challenge for ecology. Such patterns are found in many ecosystems, ranging from microbes to forests, with their regularity taking the form of evenly sized and spaced bands and patches of aggregated individuals. Regular patterns are said to ...


How temporal patterns in rainfall determine the geomorphology and carbon fluxes of tropical peatlands

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 26. (27 June 2017), pp. E5187-E5196,


[Significance] A dataset from one of the last protected tropical peat swamps in Southeast Asia reveals how fluctuations in rainfall on yearly and shorter timescales affect the growth and subsidence of tropical peatlands over thousands of years. The pattern of rainfall and the permeability of the peat together determine a particular curvature of the peat surface that defines the amount of naturally sequestered carbon stored in the peatland over time. This principle can be used to calculate the long-term carbon dioxide emissions ...


When the appeal of a dominant leader is greater than a prestige leader

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 26. (27 June 2017), pp. 6734-6739,


[Significance] We examine why dominant/authoritarian leaders attract support despite the presence of other admired/respected candidates. Although evolutionary psychology supports both dominance and prestige as viable routes for attaining influential leadership positions, extant research lacks theoretical clarity explaining when and why dominant leaders are preferred. Across three large-scale studies we provide robust evidence showing how economic uncertainty affects individuals’ psychological feelings of lack of personal control, resulting in a greater preference for dominant leaders. This research offers important theoretical explanations for why, around ...


Satellites reveal contrasting responses of regional climate to the widespread greening of Earth

Science (25 May 2017), eaal1727,


[The vegetation-climate loop] Just as terrestrial plant biomass is growing in response to increasing atmospheric CO2, climate change, and other anthropogenic influences, so is climate affected by those variations in vegetation. Forzieri et al. used satellite observations to analyze how changes in leaf area index (LAI), a measure of vegetation density, have influenced the terrestrial energy balance and local climates over the past several decades. An increase in LAI has helped to warm boreal zones through a reduction of surface albedo and ...


Historical climate controls soil respiration responses to current soil moisture

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 24. (13 June 2017), pp. 6322-6327,


[Significance] Ecosystems’ feedback to climate change remains a source of uncertainty in global models that project future climate conditions. That uncertainty rests largely on how much soil carbon will be lost as microbial respiration and how that loss varies across ecosystems. Although there has been a large emphasis on microbial temperature responses, how soil microorganisms respond to changes in moisture remains poorly understood. Here we show that historical rainfall controls soil respiration responses to current moisture. This finding was robust, with historical ...


Beyond pairwise mechanisms of species coexistence in complex communities

Nature, Vol. 546, No. 7656. (31 May 2017), pp. 56-64,


The tremendous diversity of species in ecological communities has motivated a century of research into the mechanisms that maintain biodiversity. However, much of this work examines the coexistence of just pairs of competitors. This approach ignores those mechanisms of coexistence that emerge only in diverse competitive networks. Despite the potential for these mechanisms to create conditions under which the loss of one competitor triggers the loss of others, we lack the knowledge needed to judge their importance for coexistence in nature. ...


How to fight corruption

Science, Vol. 356, No. 6340. (26 May 2017), pp. 803-804,


Anticorruption initiatives are often put forth as solutions to problems of waste and inefficiency in government programs. It's easy to see why. So often, somewhere along the chain that links the many participants in public service provision or other government activities, funds may get stolen or misdirected, bribes exchanged for preferential treatment, or genuine consumers of public services supplemented by “ghost” users. As a result, corruption reduces economic growth and leaves citizens disillusioned and distrustful of government (1). It is tempting ...


Academia’s never-ending selection for productivity

Scientometrics In Scientometrics, Vol. 103, No. 1. (15 February 2015), pp. 333-336,


[Excerpt] Over the last decade, a debate has been emerging on “Academia’s obsession with quantity” (Lawrence 2007; Fischer et al. 2012a) and the subsequent Impact Factor Race, an unhealthy game played by scientists (Cherubini 2008; Brischoux and Cook 2009). Despite being widely despised by the scientific community (but see Loyola et al. 2012), the “publish or perish” dogma and the use of productivity indices (e.g., journal’s impact factor, number of published articles) to assess a researcher’s output seem to hold on, ...


To slow or not? Challenges in subsecond networks

Science, Vol. 355, No. 6327. (23 February 2017), pp. 801-802,


[Excerpt] [...] today's electronic exchanges are an all-machine playing field with extreme subsecond operating times that lie far beyond the ∼1-s real-time response and intervention of any human. High-speed algorithms now receive, process, and respond to information on the scale of microseconds, and the only guaranteed future speed barrier is the speed of light. Hundreds of orders are executed across multiple exchange nodes within 1 ms (millisecond). [...] The need to develop a systems-level understanding concerning regulation in subsecond networks, is ...


A review of the combination among global change factors in forests, shrublands and pastures of the Mediterranean Region: beyond drought effects

Global and Planetary Change, Vol. 148 (January 2017), pp. 42-54,


[Highlights] [::] Different global change factors combine causing unprecedented ecological effects. [::] Much more complex interactions arise when combinations occur together. [::] Drought should be considered when designing and applying management policies. [::] Conserving Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems is a collective effort. [Abstract] Climate change, alteration of atmospheric composition, land abandonment in some areas and land use intensification in others, wildfires and biological invasions threaten forests, shrublands and pastures all over the world. However, the impacts of the combinations between global change factors are not well understood despite ...


Are conservation biologists working too hard?

Biological Conservation, Vol. 166 (October 2013), pp. 186-190,


[Highlights] [::] We analyze the work habits of conservation biologists contributing to Biological Conservation. [::] Conservation scientists conduct substantial amount of work on weekends and after office time. [::] There are geographical differences in the tendency to work on weekends or after office time. [::] Over time there has been a gradual increase in the tendency to conduct work on weekends. [Abstract] The quintessential scientist is exceedingly hardworking and antisocial, and one who would spend countless evenings and weekends buried under her/his microscopes and manuscripts. In an ...


Observational evidence for cloud cover enhancement over western European forests

Nature Communications, Vol. 8 (11 January 2017), 14065,


Forests impact regional hydrology and climate directly by regulating water and heat fluxes. Indirect effects through cloud formation and precipitation can be important in facilitating continental-scale moisture recycling but are poorly understood at regional scales. In particular, the impact of temperate forest on clouds is largely unknown. Here we provide observational evidence for a strong increase in cloud cover over large forest regions in western Europe based on analysis of 10 years of 15 min resolution data from geostationary satellites. In addition, ...

Visual summary


Complex responses to global change at alpine treeline

Physical Geography, Vol. 22, No. 4. (1 July 2001), pp. 333-342,


A focus of geography is the study of complexity: we include many interacting processes when we study places. Another view of complexity in geography is that complex pattern, in particular spatial pattern, can arise from few or simple interactions, if they are nonlinear. Environmental responses to global change are likely to be nonlinear and thus complex. Shifts in ecotones–the boundaries of vegetation types or biomes–may be indicative of such complex response to global change. One reason for expecting nonlinearity is that ...


How drought-induced forest die-off alters microclimate and increases fuel loadings and fire potentials

International Journal of Wildland Fire, Vol. 25, No. 8. (2016), 819,


Forest die-offs associated with drought and heat have recently occurred across the globe, raising concern that associated changes in fuels and microclimate could link initial die-off disturbance to subsequent fire disturbance. Despite widespread concern, little empirical data exist. Following forest die-off in the Northern Jarrah Forest, south-western Australia, we quantified fuel dynamics and associated microclimate for die-off and control plots. Sixteen months post die-off, die-off plots had significantly increased 1-h fuels (11.8 vs 9.8 tonnes ha–1) but not larger fuel classes ...


Welcome to postnormal times

Futures, Vol. 42, No. 5. (20 June 2010), pp. 435-444,


All that was ‘normal’ has now evaporated; we have entered postnormal times, the in-between period where old orthodoxies are dying, new ones have not yet emerged, and nothing really makes sense. To have any notion of a viable future, we must grasp the significance of this period of transition which is characterised by three c's: complexity, chaos and contradictions. These forces propel and sustain postnormal times leading to uncertainty and different types of ignorance that make decision-making problematic and increase risks ...


Disturbance and the carbon balance of US forests: a quantitative review of impacts from harvests, fires, insects, and droughts

Global and Planetary Change, Vol. 143 (August 2016), pp. 66-80,


[Highlights] [::] Available data suggest harvest is the leading disturbance impact on C in US forests then fire, windthrow, insects, and droughts. [::] Disturbances in US forests lead to the loss of at least 200 Tg C in live biomass each year on average. [::] Regrowth roughly balances disturbance emissions, with growth enhancements contributing significantly to the net change in forest carbon. [::] Natural disturbance events are likely to rise in the future, leading to net release of forest carbon. [Abstract] Disturbances are a major determinant of ...


Dutch elm disease and elm bark beetles: a century of association

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Vol. 8, No. 2. (01 April 2015), pp. 126-134,


Bark beetles of the genus Scolytus Geoffroy are the main vectors of the fungus Ophiostoma ulmi s.l., which causes the Dutch elm disease. The large and small elm bark beetles - S. scolytus (F.) and S. multistriatus (Marsham), respectively - are the most common and important species spreading the pathogen worldwide. The success of the pathogen-insect interactions is mainly due to the characteristic reproductive behavior of the elm bark beetles, which, however, largely depends on the occurrence of infected trees. During ...


Unraveling the drivers of intensifying forest disturbance regimes in Europe

Global Change Biology, Vol. 17, No. 9. (September 2011), pp. 2842-2852,


Natural disturbances like wildfire, windthrow and insect outbreaks are critical drivers of composition, structure and functioning of forest ecosystems. They are strongly climate-sensitive, and are thus likely to be distinctly affected by climatic changes. Observations across Europe show that in recent decades, forest disturbance regimes have intensified markedly, resulting in a strong increase in damage from wind, bark beetles and wildfires. Climate change is frequently hypothesized as the main driving force behind this intensification, but changes in forest structure and composition ...


Climate, CO2 and human population impacts on global wildfire emissions

Biogeosciences, Vol. 13, No. 1. (15 January 2016), pp. 267-282,


Wildfires are by far the largest contributor to global biomass burning and constitute a large global source of atmospheric traces gases and aerosols. Such emissions have a considerable impact on air quality and constitute a major health hazard. Biomass burning also influences the radiative balance of the atmosphere and is thus not only of societal, but also of significant scientific interest. There is a common perception that climate change will lead to an increase in emissions as hot and dry weather ...


The natural selection of bad science

Open Science, Vol. 3, No. 9. (01 September 2016), 160384,


Poor research design and data analysis encourage false-positive findings. Such poor methods persist despite perennial calls for improvement, suggesting that they result from something more than just misunderstanding. The persistence of poor methods results partly from incentives that favour them, leading to the natural selection of bad science. This dynamic requires no conscious strategizing—no deliberate cheating nor loafing—by scientists, only that publication is a principal factor for career advancement. Some normative methods of analysis have almost certainly been selected to further ...


Meteorology: air particles boost rain extremes

Nature, Vol. 537, No. 7620. (14 September 2016), pp. 282-282,


[Excerpt] As the climate warms, tiny particles suspended in the atmosphere may have a greater effect than greenhouse gases on increasing the frequency of extreme rain and snowfall. [\n] Greenhouse gases and atmospheric aerosols both drive extreme precipitation, which is expected to increase with climate change. [...] ...


Sensitivity of precipitation extremes to radiative forcing of greenhouse gases and aerosols

Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 43, No. 18. (28 September 2016), pp. 9860-9868,


Greenhouse gases (GHGs) and aerosols are the two most important anthropogenic forcing agents in the 21st century. The expected declines of anthropogenic aerosols in the 21st century from present-day levels would cause an additional warming of the Earth's climate system, which would aggravate the climate extremes caused by GHG warming. We examine the increased rate of precipitation extremes with global mean surface warming in the 21st century caused by anthropogenic GHGs and aerosols, using an Earth system model ensemble simulation. Similar ...


Global fire size distribution is driven by human impact and climate

Global Ecology and Biogeography, Vol. 24, No. 1. (January 2015), pp. 77-86,


[Aim] In order to understand fire's impacts on vegetation dynamics, it is crucial that the distribution of fire sizes be known. We approached this distribution using a power-law distribution, which derives from self-organized criticality theory (SOC). We compute the global spatial variation in the power-law exponent and determine the main factors that explain its spatial distribution. [Location] Global, at 2° grid resolution. [Methods] We use satellite-derived MODIS burned-area data (MCD45) to obtain global individual fire size data for 2002–2010, grouped together for each 2° grid. A ...


The precision problem in conservation and restoration

Trends in Ecology & Evolution (2016),


Within the varied contexts of environmental policy, conservation of imperilled species populations, and restoration of damaged habitats, an emphasis on idealized optimal conditions has led to increasingly specific targets for management. Overly-precise conservation targets can reduce habitat variability at multiple scales, with unintended consequences for future ecological resilience. We describe this dilemma in the context of endangered species management, stream restoration, and climate-change adaptation. Inappropriate application of conservation targets can be expensive, with marginal conservation benefit. Reduced habitat variability can limit ...


Wildland fire as a self-regulating mechanism: the role of previous burns and weather in limiting fire progression

Ecological Applications, Vol. 25, No. 6. (September 2015), pp. 1478-1492,


Theory suggests that natural fire regimes can result in landscapes that are both self-regulating and resilient to fire. For example, because fires consume fuel, they may create barriers to the spread of future fires, thereby regulating fire size. Top-down controls such as weather, however, can weaken this effect. While empirical examples demonstrating this pattern–process feedback between vegetation and fire exist, they have been geographically limited or did not consider the influence of time between fires and weather. The availability of remotely ...


Increased wind erosion from forest wildfire: implications for contaminant-related risks

Journal of Environment Quality, Vol. 35, No. 2. (2 February 2006), pp. 468-478,


Assessments of contaminant-related human and ecological risk require estimation of transport rates, but few data exist on wind-driven transport rates in nonagricultural systems, particularly in response to ecosystem disturbances such as forest wildfire and also relative to water-driven transport. The Cerro Grande wildfire in May of 2000 burned across ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Douglas ex P.&C. Lawson var. scopulorum Englem.) forest within Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico, where contaminant transport and associated post-fire inhalation risks are of concern. ...


Repression of competition and the evolution of cooperation

Evolution, Vol. 57, No. 4. (April 2003), pp. 693-705,


Repression of competition within groups joins kin selection as the second major force in the history of life shaping the evolution of cooperation. When opportunities for competition against neighbors are limited within groups, individuals can increase their own success only by enhancing the efficiency and productivity of their group. Thus, characters that repress competition within groups promote cooperation and enhance group success. Leigh first expressed this idea in the context of fair meiosis, in which each chromosome has an equal chance ...


How chimpanzees cooperate in a competitive world

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 113, No. 36. (06 September 2016), pp. 10215-10220,


[Significance] Competitive tendencies may make it hard for members of a group to cooperate with each other. Humans use many different “enforcement” strategies to keep competition in check and favor cooperation. To test whether one of our closest relatives uses similar strategies, we gave a group of chimpanzees a cooperative problem that required joint action by two or three individuals. The open-group set-up allowed the chimpanzees a choice between cooperation and competitive behavior like freeloading. The chimpanzees used a combination of partner ...


Plant responses to increasing CO2 reduce estimates of climate impacts on drought severity

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 113, No. 36. (06 September 2016), pp. 10019-10024,


[Significance] We show that the water savings that plants experience under high CO2 conditions compensate for much of the effect of warmer temperatures, keeping the amount of water on land, on average, higher than we would predict with common drought metrics, and with a different spatial pattern. The implications of plants needing less water under high CO2 reaches beyond drought prediction to the assessment of climate change impacts on agriculture, water resources, wildfire risk, and vegetation dynamics. [Abstract] Rising atmospheric CO2 will make Earth ...


Size asymmetry of resource competition and the structure of plant communities

Journal of Ecology, Vol. 104, No. 4. (July 2016), pp. 899-910,


Plant communities show two general responses to gradients of soil resources: a decrease in species richness at high levels of resource availability and an associated shift in species composition from small and slow-growing species to large and fast-growing species. Models attempting to explain these responses have usually focused on a single pattern and provided contradicting predictions concerning the underlying mechanisms. [\n] We use an extension of Tilman's resource competition model to investigate the hypothesis that both patterns may ...


Size asymmetry of resource competition and the structure of plant communities: commentary on DeMalach et al 2016

Journal of Ecology, Vol. 104, No. 4. (July 2016), pp. 911-912,


[Excerpt] The hump-back relationship between diversity and productivity is one of the well-known patterns in ecology that have defied unequivocal explanation (Mittelbach et al. 2001; Šímová, Li & Storch 2013). While it has often been argued that the decline of species richness under high productivity is due to more intense competition, it has never been made fully clear why extinction under high productivity should be more likely compared to low productivity. DeMalach et al. (2016) present a simple and elegant explanation: it ...


Where, why and how? Explaining the low-temperature range limits of temperate tree species

Journal of Ecology, Vol. 104, No. 4. (July 2016), pp. 1076-1088,


Attempts at explaining range limits of temperate tree species still rest on correlations with climatic data that lack a physiological justification. Here, we present a synthesis of a multidisciplinary project that offers mechanistic explanations. Employing climatology, biogeography, dendrology, population and reproduction biology, stress physiology and phenology, we combine results from in situ elevational (Swiss Alps) and latitudinal (Alps vs. Scandinavia) comparisons, from reciprocal common garden and phytotron studies for eight European broadleaf tree species. [\n] We show that ...


Thermodynamic control of anvil cloud amount

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 113, No. 32. (09 August 2016), pp. 8927-8932,


[Significance] Assessing the response of clouds to global warming remains a challenge of climate science. Past research has elucidated what controls the height and temperature of high-level anvil clouds, but the factors that control their horizontal extent remained uncertain. We show that the anvil cloud amount is expected to shrink as the climate warms or when convection becomes more clustered, due to a mechanism rooted in basic energetic and thermodynamic properties of the atmosphere. It is supported by three climate models and ...


Tropical anvil clouds and climate sensitivity

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 113, No. 32. (09 August 2016), pp. 8897-8899,


[Excerpt] The surface temperature of Earth is being increased by human activities, principally by the release of greenhouse gases (1). Future warming will depend upon the rate at which greenhouse gases are released and the sensitivity of Earth’s surface temperature to those increased greenhouse gases. An often used metric of the sensitivity of Earth’s climate is the equilibrium climate sensitivity, the amount of global average surface warming that is the steady, long-term response to a doubling of carbon dioxide. The equilibrium ...


Bistability, spatial interaction, and the distribution of tropical forests and savannas

Ecosystems (2016), pp. 1-12,


Recent work has indicated that tropical forest and savanna can be alternative stable states under a range of climatic conditions. However, dynamical systems theory suggests that in case of strong spatial interactions between patches of forest and savanna, a boundary between both states is only possible at conditions in which forest and savanna are equally stable, called the ‘Maxwell point.’ Frequency distributions of MODIS tree-cover data at 250 m resolution were used to estimate such Maxwell points with respect to the ...


Forest-landscape structure mediates effects of a spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) outbreak on subsequent likelihood of burning in Alaskan boreal forest

Forest Ecology and Management, Vol. 369 (June 2016), pp. 38-46,


[Highlights] [::] We measured forest-landscape structure effects on disturbance patterns in Alaska. [::] Disturbance patterns and interactions were related to tree-species composition. [::] Bark beetles lead to increased probability of fire in mixed-spruce stands. [::] Results can inform management of disturbance in Alaska with climate change. [Abstract] Characterizing how variation in forest landscape structure shapes patterns of natural disturbances and mediates interactions between multiple disturbances is critical for anticipating ecological consequences of climate change in high-latitude forest ecosystems. During the 1990s, a massive spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonus ...


Flow and storage in groundwater systems

Science, Vol. 296, No. 5575. (2002), pp. 1985-1990,


The dynamic nature of groundwater is not readily apparent, except where discharge is focused at springs or where recharge enters sinkholes. Yet groundwater flow and storage are continually changing in response to human and climatic stresses. Wise development of groundwater resources requires a more complete understanding of these changes in flow and storage and of their effects on the terrestrial environment and on numerous surface-water features and their biota. ...


Historical overfishing and the recent collapse of coastal ecosystems

Science, Vol. 293, No. 5530. (2001), pp. 629-637,


Ecological extinction caused by overfishing precedes all other pervasive human disturbance to coastal ecosystems, including pollution, degradation of water quality, and anthropogenic climate change. Historical abundances of large consumer species were fantastically large in comparison with recent observations. Paleoecological, archaeological, and historical data show that time lags of decades to centuries occurred between the onset of overfishing and consequent changes in ecological communities, because unfished species of similar trophic level assumed the ecological roles of overfished species until they too were ...


Snowfall-driven growth in East Antarctic ice sheet mitigates recent sea-level rise

Science, Vol. 308, No. 5730. (2005), pp. 1898-1901,


Satellite radar altimetry measurements indicate that the East Antarctic ice-sheet interior north of 81.6°S increased in mass by 45 ± 7 billion metric tons per year from 1992 to 2003. Comparisons with contemporaneous meteorological model snowfall estimates suggest that the gain in mass was associated with increased precipitation. A gain of this magnitude is enough to slow sea-level rise by 0.12 ± 0.02 millimeters per year. ...


Self-organized patchiness and catastrophic shifts in ecosystems

Science, Vol. 305, No. 5692. (2004), pp. 1926-1929,


Unexpected sudden catastrophic shifts may occur in ecosystems, with concomitant losses or gains of ecological and economic resources. Such shifts have been theoretically attributed to positive feedback and bistability of ecosystem states. However, verifications and predictive power with respect to catastrophic responses to a changing environment are lacking for spatially extensive ecosystems. This situation impedes management and recovery strategies for such ecosystems. Here, we review recent studies on various ecosystems that link self-organized patchiness to catastrophic shifts between ecosystem states. ...


Physical and biological feedbacks of deforestation

Reviews of Geophysics, Vol. 50, No. 4. (14 December 2012),


Forest vegetation can interact with its surrounding environment in ways that enhance conditions favorable for its own existence. Removal of forest vegetation has been shown to alter these conditions in a number of ways, thereby inhibiting the reestablishment of the same community of woody plants. The effect of vegetation on an environmental variable along with vegetation susceptibility to the associated environmental conditions may imply a positive feedback: Changes in the internal conditions controlling this variable such as deforestation could inhibit the ...

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