Browsing by Author "Midgley, Guy F."
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- ItemFire‑mediated disruptive selection can explain the reseeder–resprouter dichotomy in Mediterranean‑type vegetation(Springer, 2014) Altwegg, Res; De Klerk, Helen Margaret; Midgley, Guy F.Crown fire is a key selective pressure in Mediterranean-type plant communities. Adaptive responses to fire regimes involve trade-offs between investment for persistence (fire survival and resprouting) and reproduction (fire mortality, fast growth to reproductive maturity, and reseeding) as investments that enhance adult survival lower growth and reproductive rates. Southern hemisphere Mediterranean-type ecosystems are dominated by species with either endogenous regeneration from adult resprouting or fire-triggered seedling recruitment. Specifically, on nutrient-poor soils, these are either resprouting or reseeding life histories, with few intermediate forms, despite the fact that the transition between strategies is evolutionarily labile. How did this strong dichotomy evolve? We address this question by developing a stochastic demographic model to assess determinants of relative fitness of reseeders, resprouters and hypothetical intermediate forms. The model was parameterised using published demographic data from South African protea species and run over various relevant fire regime parameters facets. At intermediate fire return intervals, trade-offs between investment in growth versus fire resilience can cause fitness to peak at either of the extremes of the reseeder–resprouter continuum, especially when assuming realistic non-linear shapes for these trade-offs. Under these circumstances, the fitness landscape exhibits a saddle which could lead to disruptive selection. The fitness gradient between the peaks was shallow, which may explain why this life-history trait is phylogenetically labile. Resprouters had maximum fitness at shorter fire-return intervals than reseeders. The model suggests that a strong dichotomy in fire survival strategy depends on a non-linear trade-off between growth and fire persistence traits.
- ItemLarge uncertainties in future biome changes in Africa call for flexible climate adaptation strategies(John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2020) Martens, Carola; Hickler, Thomas; Davis-Reddy, Claire; Engelbrecht, Francois; Higgins, Steven I.; Von Maltitz, Graham P.; Midgley, Guy F.; Pfeiffer, Mirjam; Scheiter, SimonAnthropogenic climate change is expected to impact ecosystem structure, biodiversity and ecosystem services in Africa profoundly. We used the adaptive Dynamic Global Vegetation Model (aDGVM), which was originally developed and tested for Africa, to quantify sources of uncertainties in simulated African potential natural vegetation towards the end of the 21st century. We forced the aDGVM with regionally downscaled high-resolution climate scenarios based on an ensemble of six general circulation models (GCMs) under two representative concentration pathways (RCPs 4.5 and 8.5). Our study assessed the direct effects of climate change and elevated CO2 on vegetation change and its plant-physiological drivers. Total increase in carbon in aboveground biomass in Africa until the end of the century was between 18% to 43% (RCP4.5) and 37% to 61% (RCP8.5) and was associated with woody encroachment into grasslands and increased woody cover in savannas. When direct effects of CO2 on plants were omitted, woody encroachment was muted and carbon in aboveground vegetation changed between –8 to 11% (RCP 4.5) and –22 to –6% (RCP8.5). Simulated biome changes lacked consistent large-scale geographical patterns of change across scenarios. In Ethiopia and the Sahara/Sahel transition zone, the biome changes forecast by the aDGVM were consistent across GCMs and RCPs. Direct effects from elevated CO2 were associated with substantial increases in water use efficiency, primarily driven by photosynthesis enhancement, which may relieve soil moisture limitations to plant productivity. At the ecosystem level, interactions between fire and woody plant demography further promoted woody encroachment. We conclude that substantial future biome changes due to climate and CO2 changes are likely across Africa. Because of the large uncertainties in future projections, adaptation strategies must be highly flexible. Focused research on CO2 effects, and improved model representations of these effects will be necessary to reduce these uncertainties.
- ItemLinking scales and disciplines : an interdisciplinary cross-scale approach to supporting climate-relevant ecosystem management(Springer Nature, 2019-09-05) Berger, Christian; Bieri, Mari; Bradshaw, Karen; Brummer, Christian; Clemen, Thomas; Hickler, Thomas; Kutsch, Werner Leo; Lenfers, Ulfia A.; Martens, Carola; Midgley, Guy F.; Mukwashi, Kanisios; Odipo, Victor; Scheiter, Simon; Schmullius, Christiane; Baade, Jussi; Du Toit, Justin C. O.; Scholes, Robert J.; Smit, Izak P. J.; Stevens, Nicola; Twine, WayneSouthern Africa is particularly sensitive to climate change, due to both ecological and socioeconomic factors, with rural land users among the most vulnerable groups. The provision of information to support climate-relevant decision-making requires an understanding of the projected impacts of change and complex feedbacks within the local ecosystems, as well as local demands on ecosystem services. In this paper, we address the limitation of current approaches for developing management relevant socio-ecological information on the projected impacts of climate change and human activities.We emphasise the need for linking disciplines and approaches by expounding the methodology followed in our two consecutive projects. These projects combine disciplines and levels of measurements from the leaf level (ecophysiology) to the local landscape level (flux measurements) and from the local household level (socio-economic surveys) to the regional level (remote sensing), feeding into a variety of models at multiple scales. Interdisciplinary, multi-scaled, and integrated socio-ecological approaches, as proposed here, are needed to compliment reductionist and linear, scalespecific approaches. Decision support systems are used to integrate and communicate the data and models to the local decision-makers.
- ItemMechanistic reconciliation of community and invasion ecology(Ecological Society of America, 2021-02) Latombe, Guillaume; Richardson, David M.; McGeoch, Melodie A.; Altwegg, Res; Catford, Jane A.; Chase, Jonathan M.; Courchamp, Franck; Esler, , Karen J.; Jeschke, Jonathan M.; Landi, Pietro; Measey, John; Midgley, Guy F.; Minoarivelo, Henintsoa O.; Rodger, James G.; Hui, CangCommunity and invasion ecology have mostly grown independently. There is substantial overlap in the processes captured by different models in the two fields, and various frameworks have been developed to reduce this redundancy and synthesize information content. Despite broad recognition that community and invasion ecology are interconnected, a process‐based framework synthesizing models across these two fields is lacking. Here we review 65 representative community and invasion models and propose a common framework articulated around six processes (dispersal, drift, abiotic interactions, within‐guild interactions, cross‐guild interactions, and genetic changes). The framework is designed to synthesize the content of the two fields, provide a general perspective on their development, and enable their comparison. The application of this framework and of a novel method based on network theory reveals some lack of coherence between the two fields, despite some historical similarities. Community ecology models are characterized by combinations of multiple processes, likely reflecting the search for an overarching theory to explain community assembly and structure, drawing predominantly on interaction processes, but also accounting largely for the other processes. In contrast, most models in invasion ecology invoke fewer processes and focus more on interactions between introduced species and their novel biotic and abiotic environment. The historical dominance of interaction processes and their independent developments in the two fields is also reflected in the lower level of coherence for models involving interactions, compared to models involving dispersal, drift, and genetic changes. It appears that community ecology, with a longer history than invasion ecology, has transitioned from the search for single explanations for patterns observed in nature to investigate how processes may interact mechanistically, thereby generating and testing hypotheses. Our framework paves the way for a similar transition in invasion ecology, to better capture the dynamics of multiple alien species introduced in complex communities. Reciprocally, applying insights from invasion to community ecology will help us understand and predict the future of ecological communities in the Anthropocene, in which human activities are weakening species’ natural boundaries. Ultimately, the successful integration of the two fields could advance a predictive ecology that is urgently required in a rapidly changing world.
- ItemNitrogen-fixing bacteria and Oxalis – evidence for a vertically inherited bacterial symbiosis(BMC (part of Springer Nature), 2019-10-23) Jooste, Michelle; Roets, Francois; Midgley, Guy F.; Oberlander, Kenneth C.; Dreyer, Leanne L.Background: Plant-endophyte symbioses often revolve around nitrogen metabolism, and involve varying degrees of intimacy. Although evidence for vertical inheritance of nitrogen-fixing endophytic bacteria is increasing, it is confined mostly to crop plants, and to date no such system has been reported for geophytes. Methods: Bacterial endophytes associated with Oxalis, the most species-rich geophytic genus form the Cape Flora in southern Africa was studied. Culturable endophytes were isolated from surface-sterilized vegetative and reproductive plant organs for six host species at three locations. Colonies of microbes on various artificial media were morphotyped, enumerated and identified using sequence data. Filter exclusion experiments were conducted to determine if endophytes were vertically transmitted to seeds, determine if mucilage plays a role to actively attract microbes from the soil and to assess microbial richness isolated from the mucilage of Oxalis seedlings. Fluorescent microscopy was implemented in order to visualize endophytic bacteria in cryo-sectioned seeds. Results: Evidence for a novel, vertically transmitted symbiosis was reported. Communities of nitrogen-fixing and plant growth-promoting Bacillus endophytes were found to associate with selected Oxalis hosts from nitrogen-deficient environments of the Cape. Bacillus endophytes were ubiquitous and diverse across species and plant bodies, and were prominent in seeds. Three common nitrogen-fixing Bacillus have known oxalotrophic properties and appear to be housed inside specialised cavities (containing oxalates) within the plant body and seeds. Conclusions: The discovery of vertical transmission and potential benefits to both host and endophyte suggest a particularly tight mutualism in the Oxalis-endophyte system. This discovery suggests unexpected ways in which geophytes might avoid nitrogen deficiency, and suggest that such symbioses are more common than previously expected.
- ItemAn operational definition of the biome for global change research(Wiley Online, 2020) Conradi, Timo; Slingsby, Jasper A.; Midgley, Guy F.; Nottebrock, Henning; Schweiger, Andreas H.; Higgins, Steven I.Biomes are constructs for organising knowledge on the structure and functioning of the world’s ecosystems, and serve as useful units for monitoring how the biosphere responds to anthropogenic drivers, including climate change. The current practice of delimiting biomes relies on expert knowledge. Recent studies have questioned the value of such biome maps for comparative ecology and global-change research, partly due to their subjective origin. Here we propose a flexible method for developing biome maps objectively. The method uses range modelling of several thousands of plant species to reveal spatial attractors for different growth-form assemblages that define biomes. The workflow is illustrated using distribution data from 23 500 African plant species. In an example application, we create a biome map for Africa and use the fitted species models to project biome shifts. In a second example, we map gradients of growth-form suitability that can be used to identify sites for comparative ecology. This method provides a flexible framework that (1) allows a range of biome types to be defined according to user needs and (2) enables projections of biome changes that emerge purely from the individualistic responses of plant species to environmental changes.
- ItemOxalis seeds from the Cape Flora have a spectrum of germination strategies(Botanical Society of America, 2019) Jooste, Michelle; Midgley, Guy F.; Oberlander, Kenneth C.; Dreyer, Leanne L.PREMISE OF THE STUDY: Seed germination strategy has profound ecological and evolutionary consequences, with transitions between germination strategies receiving renewed recent attention. Oxalis from the Cape Flora, South Africa, has seeds with two contrasting germination strategies: orthodox and recalcitrant. The morphological gulf between these strategies (and potential intermediate morphologies) has been poorly quantified, with questions regarding their ecological function and evolution. We reconsidered this binary classification, emphasizing potential intermediate states. METHODS: Seed physiological traits were used to assign strategies to 64 Oxalis species. We tested for morphological/phenological signal corresponding to defined strategies with cluster, principal component, Kmeans clustering and discriminant analyses. KEY RESULTS: We show that an intermediate germination strategy does exist among Cape Oxalis, with two possible morphological groups within each strategy. These could reflect a continuum of germination states, where an ancestral orthodox strategy evolved towards a maximally recalcitrant peak, with a mosaic of intermediate states reflected in extant taxa. CONCLUSIONS: Environmental factors may affect germination strategy and distribution throughout the Cape because recalcitrant and intermediate species are confined to the winter rainfall region. They occupy specialized niches and may face adverse impacts under predicted climate change (hotter and drier winters), meriting focused future conservation.