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  • 1.
    Auffret, Alistair G.
    et al.
    Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences / Stockholm University.
    Kimberley, Adam
    Stockholm University.
    Plue, Jan
    Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science. Stockholm University.
    Waldén, Emelie
    Stockholm University.
    Super-regional land-use change and effects on the grassland specialist flora2018In: Nature Communications, ISSN 2041-1723, E-ISSN 2041-1723, Vol. 9, article id 3464Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Habitat loss through land-use change is the most pressing threat to biodiversity worldwide. European semi-natural grasslands have suffered an ongoing decline since the early twentieth century, but we have limited knowledge of how grassland loss has affected biodiversity across large spatial scales. We quantify land-use change over 50-70 years across a 175,000 km(2) super-region in southern Sweden, identifying a widespread loss of open cover and a homogenisation of landscape structure, although these patterns vary considerably depending on the historical composition of the landscape. Analysing species inventories from 46,796 semi-natural grasslands, our results indicate that habitat loss and degradation have resulted in a decline in grassland specialist plant species. Local factors are the best predictors of specialist richness, but the historical landscape predicts present-day richness better than the contemporary landscape. This supports the widespread existence of time-lagged biodiversity responses, indicating that further species losses could occur in the future.

  • 2.
    Ma, Shiyu
    et al.
    Ghent University, Gontrode, Belgium.
    De Frenne, Pieter
    Ghent University, Gontrode, Belgium.
    Boon, Nico
    Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
    Brunet, Jörg
    Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
    Cousins, Sara A O
    Stockholm University.
    Decocq, Guillaume
    University of Picardy Jules Verne, Amiens, France.
    Kolb, Annette
    University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
    Lemke, Isa
    University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
    Liira, Jaan
    University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.
    Naaf, Tobias
    Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg, Germany.
    Orczewska, Anna
    University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland.
    Plue, Jan
    Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science. Stockholm University.
    Wulf, Monika
    Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg, Germany.
    Verheyen, Kris
    Ghent University, Gontrode, Belgium.
    Plant species identity and soil characteristics determine rhizosphere soil bacteria community composition in European temperate forests2019In: FEMS Microbiology Ecology, ISSN 0168-6496, E-ISSN 1574-6941, Vol. 95, no 6, article id fiz063Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Soil bacteria and understorey plants interact and drive forest ecosystem functioning. Yet, knowledge about biotic and abiotic factors that affect the composition of the bacterial community in the rhizosphere of understorey plants is largely lacking. Here, we assessed the effects of plant species identity (Milium effusum vs Stachys sylvatica), rhizospheric soil characteristics, large-scale environmental conditions (temperature, precipitation and nitrogen (N) deposition), and land-use history (ancient vs recent forests) on bacterial community composition in rhizosphere soil in temperate forests along a 1700 km latitudinal gradient in Europe. The dominant bacterial phyla in the rhizosphere soil of both plant species were Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria. Bacterial community composition differed significantly between the two plant species. Within plant species, soil chemistry was the most important factor determining soil bacterial community composition. More precisely, soil acidity correlated with the presence of multiple phyla, e.g. Acidobacteria (negatively), Chlamydiae (negatively) and Nitrospirae (positively), in both plant species. Large-scale environmental conditions were only important in S. sylvatica and land-use history was not important in either of the plant species. The observed role of understorey plant species identity and rhizosphere soil characteristics in determining soil bacterial community composition extends our understanding of plant-soil bacteria interactions in forest ecosystem functioning.

  • 3.
    Ma, Shiyu
    et al.
    Ghent University, Melle-Gontrode, Belgium.
    De Frenne, Pieter
    Ghent University, Melle-Gontrode, Belgium.
    Vanhellemont, Margot
    Ghent University, Melle-Gontrode, Belgium.
    Wasof, Safaa
    Ghent University, Melle-Gontrode, Belgium.
    Boeckx, Pascal
    Ghent University, Gent, Belgium.
    Brunet, Jörg
    Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
    Cousins, Sara A.O.
    Stockholm University.
    Decocq, Guillaume
    University of Picardy Jules Verne, Amiens, France.
    Kolb, Annette
    University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
    Lemke, Isa
    University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
    Liira, Jaan
    University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.
    Naaf, Tobias
    Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg, Germany.
    Orczewska, Anna
    University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland.
    Plue, Jan
    Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science. Stockholm University.
    Wulf, Monika
    Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg, Germany.
    Verheyen, Kris
    Ghent University, Melle-Gontrode, Belgium.
    Local soil characteristics determine the microbial communities under forest understorey plants along a latitudinal gradient2019In: Basic and Applied Ecology, ISSN 1439-1791, E-ISSN 1618-0089, Vol. 36, p. 34-44Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The soil microbial community is essential for maintaining ecosystem functioning and is intimately linked with the plant community. Yet, little is known on how soil microbial communities in the root zone vary at continental scales within plant species. Here we assess the effects of soil chemistry, large-scale environmental conditions (i.e. temperature, precipitation and nitrogen deposition) and forest land-use history on the soil microbial communities (measured by phospholipid fatty acids) in the root zone of four plant species (Geum urbanum, Milium effusum, Poa nemoralis and Stachys sylvatica) in forests along a 1700km latitudinal gradient in Europe. Soil microbial communities differed significantly among plant species, and soil chemistry was the main determinant of the microbial community composition within each plant species. Influential soil chemical variables for microbial communities were plant species-specific; soil acidity, however, was often an important factor. Large-scale environmental conditions, together with soil chemistry, only explained the microbial community composition in M. effusum and P. nemoralis. Forest land-use history did not affect the soil microbial community composition. Our results underpin the dominant role of soil chemistry in shaping microbial community composition variation within plant species at the continental scale, and provide insights into the composition and functionality of soil microbial communities in forest ecosystems.

  • 4.
    Ma, Shiyu
    et al.
    Ghent University, Melle-Gontrode, Belgium.
    De Frenne, Pieter
    Ghent University, Melle-Gontrode, Belgium.
    Wasof, Safaa
    Ghent University, Melle-Gontrode, Belgium.
    Brunet, Jörg
    Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
    Cousins, Sara Ao
    Stockholm University.
    Decocq, Guillaume
    University of Picardy Jules Verne, Amiens, France.
    Kolb, Annette
    University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
    Lemke, Isa
    University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
    Liira, Jaan
    University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.
    Naaf, Tobias
    Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg, Germany.
    Orczewska, Anna
    University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland.
    Plue, Jan
    Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science. Stockholm University.
    Wulf, Monika
    Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg, Germany.
    Verheyen, Kris
    Ghent University, Melle-Gontrode, Belgium.
    Plant-soil feedbacks of forest understorey plants transplanted in nonlocal soils along a latitudinal gradient2019In: Plant Biology, ISSN 1435-8603, E-ISSN 1438-8677, Vol. 21, no 4, p. 677-687Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Climate change is driving movements of many plants beyond, as well as within, their current distributional ranges. Even migrant plants moving within their current range may experience different plant-soil feedbacks (PSFs) because of divergent nonlocal biotic soil conditions. Yet, our understanding to what extent soil biotic conditions can affect the performance of within-range migrant plants is still very limited. We assessed the emergence and growth of migrant forest herbs (Milium effusum and Stachys sylvatica) using soils and seeds collected along a 1,700 km latitudinal gradient across Europe. Soil biota were manipulated through four soil treatments, i.e., unsterilized control soil (PSFUS ), sterilized soil (PSFS ), sterilized soil inoculated with unsterilized home soil (PSFS+HI ) and sterilized soil inoculated with unsterilized foreign soil (PSFS+FI , expected to occur when both plants and soil biota track climate change). Compared to PSFS , PSFUS had negative effects on the growth but not emergence of both species, while PSFS+FI only affected S. sylvatica across all seed provenances. When considering seeds' origins, seedling emergence and growth responses to nonlocal soils depended on soil biotic conditions. Specifically, the home-away distance effect on seedling emergence differed between the four treatments, and significant responses to chemistry either disappeared (M. effusum) or changed (S. sylvatica) from PSFUS to PSFS . Soil biota emerge as an important driver of the estimated plant migration success. Our results of the effects of soil microorganisms on plant establishment provide relevant information for predictions of the distribution and dynamics of plant species in a changing climate.

  • 5.
    Plue, Jan
    et al.
    Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science. Stockholm University / University of Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium.
    Aavik, T.
    Tartu University, Tartu, Estonia.
    Cousins, S. A. O.
    Stockholm University.
    Grazing networks promote plant functional connectivity among isolated grassland communities2019In: Diversity & distributions: A journal of biological invasions and biodiversity, ISSN 1366-9516, E-ISSN 1472-4642, Vol. 25, no 1, p. 102-115Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Aim: Habitat loss threatens plant diversity globally. Lack of plant functional connectivity between isolated populations is often pinpointed as one of the major underlying mechanisms driving subsequent species extinctions. Therefore, landscape-scale conservation management promoting functional connectivity needs to be implemented urgently. Supporting the movement of seed dispersal vectors such as grazing animals may help safeguard local and regional plant diversity in fragmented landscapes. However, the efficacy of such management remains to be thoroughly assessed. Location: Stockholm archipelago, Sweden. Methods: We test how grazing animals may serve as mobile corridors within rotational grazing networks promoting plant functional connectivity via directed seed dispersal. Using landscape genetics, we compare isolated populations of the grassland perennial Campanula rotundifolia located in either active or abandoned grazing networks, to test if spatial patterns in their genetic diversity, differentiation and allele frequencies relate to the presence or absence of connectivity via rotational grazing management. Results: Grazing networks imprinted strong landscape-scale spatial patterning in pairwise population genetic differentiation and within-population genetic diversity. Isolated C. rotundifolia populations functionally connected by grazing animals held higher genetic diversity compared to populations no longer connected by grazing livestock. Gene flow linked to the directed seed dispersal was higher between populations within grazing networks, confirmed by their increased allele richness. We found a predictable, nested loss of genetic diversity among C. rotundifolia populations in abandoned grazing networks. Main conclusions: Grazing animals were important seed dispersal vectors, functionally connecting isolated grassland communities, so being vital to the successful long-term persistence and conservation of not only species but also genetic diversity. Crucially, the study underlines the possibilities of using domestic livestock as mobile corridors within rotational grazing networks as an effective tool to manage, conserve and restore both genetic and species diversity among isolated plant communities in fragmented landscapes.

  • 6.
    Plue, Jan
    et al.
    Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science. Stockholm University.
    Cousins, S. A. O.
    Stockholm University.
    Seed dispersal in both space and time is necessary for plant diversity maintenance in fragmented landscapes2018In: Oikos, ISSN 0030-1299, E-ISSN 1600-0706, Vol. 127, no 6, p. 780-791Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Metacommunity theory emphasizes that seed dispersal not only limits but equally maintains plant diversity, though the latter receives little empirical attention. Discerning the temporal and spatial components of seed dispersal and understanding how their interaction shapes fragmented communities and maintains their diversity may be pivotal to further our ecological understanding of spatial and temporal seed dispersal and its implications for landscape-scale conservation management. To investigate the relative importance of spatial and temporal seed dispersal and their roles in maintaining plant diversity, the herb layer and seed bank of grassland communities were inventoried in 77 sites across abandoned and intact rotational grazing networks in a 100 km2 fragmented grassland landscape in the Stockholm archipelago (Baltic Sea, Sweden). Besides analysing alpha- and beta-diversity patterns, nestedness analyses connect deterministic community changes and diversity losses with dispersal-related life-history traits and habitat specialization to identify the mechanism driving community changes and maintaining local diversity. The loss of rotational grazing networks caused community diversity declines via non-random extinctions of spatially and temporally poor dispersers, particularly among grassland specialists. Temporal seed dispersal halted further community disassembly, maintaining diversity in the abandoned grazing networks. Spatial dispersal within the intact grazing networks was found to be an overriding, homogenizing agent conserving diversity in both the herb layer and seed bank. This empirical evidence establishes how spatial and temporal seed dispersal interact to maintain diversity in fragmented landscapes. Poorly connected grasslands appear limited by spatial dispersal, yet are maintained by temporal seed dispersal. In fragmented landscapes where grazing networks are rarely present, temporal rather than spatial seed dispersal may be more important in maintaining species diversity, since effective spatial dispersal may be significantly diminished. The grazing network's efficacy at boosting spatial dispersal and upholding community diversity presents a powerful management tool to conserve local and regional species diversity. © 2017 The Authors

  • 7.
    Plue, Jan
    et al.
    Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science. Stockholm University / University of Bremen, Germany.
    De Frenne, P.
    Ghent University, Belgum.
    Acharya, K.
    Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway.
    Brunet, J.
    SLU.
    Chabrerie, O.
    Jules Verne University of Picardie, Amiens Cedex, France.
    Decocq, G.
    University of Bremen, Germany.
    Diekmann, M.
    Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway.
    Graae, B. J.
    Heinken, T.
    University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany.
    Hermy, M.
    University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
    Kolb, A.
    University of Bremen, Germany.
    Lemke, I.
    University of Bremen, Germany.
    Liira, J.
    University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.
    Naaf, T.
    Institute of Land Use Systems, Müncheberg, Germany.
    Verheyen, K.
    Ghent University, Belgium.
    Wulf, M.
    Institute of Land Use Systems, Müncheberg, Germany.
    Cousins, S. A. O.
    Stockholm University.
    Where does the community start, and where does it end?: Including the seed bank to reassess forest herb layer responses to the environment2017In: Journal of Vegetation Science, ISSN 1100-9233, E-ISSN 1654-1103, Vol. 28, no 2, p. 424-435Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Question: Below-ground processes are key determinants of above-ground plant population and community dynamics. Still, our understanding of how environmental drivers shape plant communities is mostly based on above-ground diversity patterns, bypassing below-ground plant diversity stored in seed banks. As seed banks may shape above-ground plant communities, we question whether concurrently analysing the above- and below-ground species assemblages may potentially enhance our understanding of community responses to environmental variation. Location: Temperate deciduous forests along a 2000 km latitudinal gradient in NW Europe. Methods: Herb layer, seed bank and local environmental data including soil pH, canopy cover, forest cover continuity and time since last canopy disturbance were collected in 129 temperate deciduous forest plots. We quantified herb layer and seed bank diversity per plot and evaluated how environmental variation structured community diversity in the herb layer, seed bank and the combined herb layer–seed bank community. Results: Seed banks consistently held more plant species than the herb layer. How local plot diversity was partitioned across the herb layer and seed bank was mediated by environmental variation in drivers serving as proxies of light availability. The herb layer and seed bank contained an ever smaller and ever larger share of local diversity, respectively, as both canopy cover and time since last canopy disturbance decreased. Species richness and β-diversity of the combined herb layer–seed bank community responded distinctly differently compared to the separate assemblages in response to environmental variation in, e.g. forest cover continuity and canopy cover. Conclusions: The seed bank is a below-ground diversity reservoir of the herbaceous forest community, which interacts with the herb layer, although constrained by environmental variation in e.g. light availability. The herb layer and seed bank co-exist as a single community by means of the so-called storage effect, resulting in distinct responses to environmental variation not necessarily recorded in the individual herb layer or seed bank assemblages. Thus, concurrently analysing above- and below-ground diversity will improve our ecological understanding of how understorey plant communities respond to environmental variation.

  • 8.
    Plue, Jan
    et al.
    Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science. Stockholm University.
    Kimberley, A.
    Stockholm University.
    Slotte, T.
    Stockholm University.
    Interspecific variation in ploidy as a key plant trait outlining local extinction risks and community patterns in fragmented landscapes2018In: Functional Ecology, ISSN 0269-8463, E-ISSN 1365-2435, Vol. 32, no 8, p. 2095-2106Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Polyploidy is associated with a plethora of phenotypic and genetic changes yielding transformative effects on species' life-history and ecology. These biological attributes can contribute to the success of species on ecological timescales, as observed in the invasion success or rapid environmental and climatic adaptation of polyploids. However, to date there has been a distinct lack of empirical evidence linking species' local extinction risk, species distributions and community structure in fragmented landscapes with interspecific variation in ploidy. We aimed to investigate the relationship between levels of habitat fragmentation and patterns in both diversity and the frequency of species with different ploidy levels. We included additional persistence- and dispersal related life-history traits, to establish the relative importance of ploidy in determining species richness and frequencies following habitat fragmentation. We therefore collected plant community presence-absence data and landscape data from grassland fragments from south-central Sweden. Community-level analysis uncovered that interspecific variation in ploidy proved the strongest predictor of plant community species richness and turn-over across grassland fragments. Local extinction risk decreased as ploidy increased, with diploids most prone to local extinction. In the species-level analysis, ploidy outweighed the combined explanatory power of commonly used life-history traits such as clonality, dispersal mechanism and mating system; key predictors of plant species distributions across fragmented landscapes. Ploidy appears to capture parallel variation in a series of advantageous genetic and life-history mechanisms which operate on ecological timescales, emerging as the strongest predictor of local extinction risk even after accounting for variation in other crucial life-history traits. Our results therefore highlight the importance of genomic traits such as ploidy and total chromosome number as valuable factors explaining and predicting local extinction risk in fragmented landscapes. A plain language summary is available for this article.

  • 9.
    Plue, Jan
    et al.
    Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science. Stockholm University.
    Vandepitte, Katrien
    Laboratory of Plant Conservation and Population Biology, Heverlee, Belgium.
    Honnay, Olivier
    Laboratory of Plant Conservation and Population Biology, Heverlee, Belgium.
    Cousins, Sara A O
    Stockholm University.
    Does the seed bank contribute to the build-up of a genetic extinction debt in the grassland perennial Campanula rotundifolia?2017In: Annals of Botany, ISSN 0305-7364, E-ISSN 1095-8290, Vol. 120, no 3, p. 373-385Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background and Aims: Habitat fragmentation threatens global biodiversity. Many plant species persist in habitat fragments via persistent life cycle stages such as seed banks, generating a species extinction debt. Here, seed banks are hypothesized to cause a temporal delay in the expected loss of genetic variation, which can be referred to as a genetic extinction debt, as a possible mechanism behind species extinction debts.

    Methods: Fragmented grassland populations of Campanula rotundifolia were examined for evidence of a genetic extinction debt, investigating if the seed bank contributed to the extinction debt build-up. The genetic make-up of 15 above- and below-ground populations was analysed in relation to historical and current levels of habitat fragmentation, both separately and combined.

    Key Results: Genetic diversity was highest in above-ground populations, though below-ground populations contained 8 % of unique alleles that were absent above-ground. Above-ground genetic diversity and composition were related to historical patch size and connectivity, but not current patch characteristics, suggesting the presence of a genetic extinction debt in the above-ground populations. No such relationships were found for the below-ground populations. Genetic diversity measures still showed a response to historical but not present landscape characteristics when combining genetic diversity of the above- and below-ground populations.

    Conclusions: The fragmented C. rotundifolia populations exhibited a genetic extinction debt. However, the role of the seed banks in the build-up of this extinction debt is probably small, since the limited, unique genetic diversity of the seed bank alone seems unable to counter the detrimental effects of habitat fragmentation on the population genetic structure of C. rotundifolia .

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