Publications by authors named "Wolf M Mooij"

32 Publications

Will legal international rhino horn trade save wild rhino populations?

Glob Ecol Conserv 2020 Sep 5;23:e01145. Epub 2020 Jun 5.

Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University and Research, De Elst 1, 6708 WD, Wageningen, the Netherlands.

Wild vertebrate populations all over the globe are in decline, with poaching being the second-most-important cause. The high poaching rate of rhinoceros may drive these species into extinction within the coming decades. Some stakeholders argue to lift the ban on international rhino horn trade to potentially benefit rhino conservation, as current interventions appear to be insufficient. We reviewed scientific and grey literature to scrutinize the validity of reasoning behind the potential benefit of legal horn trade for wild rhino populations. We identified four mechanisms through which legal trade would impact wild rhino populations, of which only the increased revenue for rhino farmers could potentially benefit rhino conservation. Conversely, the global demand for rhino horn is likely to increase to a level that cannot be met solely by legal supply. Moreover, corruption is omnipresent in countries along the trade routes, which has the potential to negatively affect rhino conservation. Finally, programmes aimed at reducing rhino horn demand will be counteracted through trade legalization by removing the stigma on consuming rhino horn. Combining these insights and comparing them with criteria for sustainable wildlife farming, we conclude that legalizing rhino horn trade will likely negatively impact the remaining wild rhino populations. To preserve rhino species, we suggest to prioritize reducing corruption within rhino horn trade, increasing the rhino population within well-protected 'safe havens' and implementing educational programmes and law enforcement targeted at rhino horn consumers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2020.e01145DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7273149PMC
September 2020

A Generically Parameterized model of Lake eutrophication (GPLake) that links field-, lab- and model-based knowledge.

Sci Total Environ 2019 Dec 13;695:133887. Epub 2019 Aug 13.

Water Systems and Global Change Group, Wageningen University & Research, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands.

Worldwide, eutrophication is threatening lake ecosystems. To support lake management numerous eutrophication models have been developed. Diverse research questions in a wide range of lake ecosystems are addressed by these models. The established models are based on three key approaches: the empirical approach that employs field surveys, the theoretical approach in which models based on first principles are tested against lab experiments, and the process-based approach that uses parameters and functions representing detailed biogeochemical processes. These approaches have led to an accumulation of field-, lab- and model-based knowledge, respectively. Linking these sources of knowledge would benefit lake management by exploiting complementary information; however, the development of a simple tool that links these approaches was hampered by their large differences in scale and complexity. Here we propose a Generically Parameterized Lake eutrophication model (GPLake) that links field-, lab- and model-based knowledge and can be used to make a first diagnosis of lake water quality. We derived GPLake from consumer-resource theory by the principle that lacustrine phytoplankton is typically limited by two resources: nutrients and light. These limitations are captured in two generic parameters that shape the nutrient to chlorophyll-a relations. Next, we parameterized GPLake, using knowledge from empirical, theoretical, and process-based approaches. GPLake generic parameters were found to scale in a comparable manner across data sources. Finally, we show that GPLake can be applied as a simple tool that provides lake managers with a first diagnosis of the limiting factor and lake water quality, using only the parameters for lake depth, residence time and current nutrient loading. With this first-order assessment, lake managers can easily assess measures such as reducing nutrient load, decreasing residence time or changing depth before spending money on field-, lab- or model- experiments to support lake management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.133887DOI Listing
December 2019

Success of lake restoration depends on spatial aspects of nutrient loading and hydrology.

Sci Total Environ 2019 Aug 1;679:248-259. Epub 2019 May 1.

Department of Aquatic Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), PO Box 50, 6700, AB, Wageningen, the Netherlands; Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management, Wageningen University & Research, PO Box 47, 6700, AA, Wageningen, the Netherlands.

Many aquatic ecosystems have deteriorated due to human activities and their restoration is often troublesome. It is proposed here that the restoration success of deteriorated lakes critically depends on hitherto largely neglected spatial heterogeneity in nutrient loading and hydrology. A modelling approach is used to study this hypothesis by considering four lake types with contrasting nutrient loading (point versus diffuse) and hydrology (seepage versus drainage). By comparing the longterm effect of common restoration measures (nutrient load reduction, lake flushing or biomanipulation) in these four lake types, we found that restoration through reduction of nutrient loading is effective in all cases. In contrast, biomanipulation only works in seepage lakes with diffuse nutrient inputs, while lake flushing will even be counterproductive in lakes with nutrient point sources. The main conclusion of the presented analysis is that a priori assessment of spatial heterogeneity caused by nutrient loading and hydrology is essential for successful restoration of lake ecosystems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.443DOI Listing
August 2019

Modelling induced bank filtration effects on freshwater ecosystems to ensure sustainable drinking water production.

Water Res 2019 Jun 26;157:19-29. Epub 2019 Mar 26.

Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Müggelseedamm 301, 12587, Berlin, Germany.

Induced bank filtration (IBF) is a water abstraction technology using different natural infiltration systems for groundwater recharge, such as river banks and lake shores. It is a cost-effective pre-treatment method for drinking water production used in many regions worldwide, predominantly in urban areas. Until now, research concerning IBF has almost exclusively focussed on the purification efficiency and infiltration capacity. Consequently, knowledge about the effects on source water bodies is lacking. Yet, IBF interrupts groundwater seepage and affects processes in the sediment potentially resulting in adverse effects on lake or river water quality. Securing sufficient source water quality, however, is important for a sustainable drinking water production by IBF. In this study, we analysed the effects of five predicted mechanisms of IBF on shallow lake ecosystems using the dynamic model PCLake: declining CO and nutrient availability, as well as increasing summer water temperatures, sedimentation rates and oxygen penetration into sediments. Shallow lake ecosystems are abundant worldwide and characterised by the occurrence of alternative stable states with either clear water and macrophyte dominance or turbid, phytoplankton-dominated conditions. Our results show that IBF in most scenarios increased phytoplankton abundance and thus had adverse effects on shallow lake water quality. Threshold levels for critical nutrient loading inducing regime shifts from clear to turbid conditions were up to 80% lower with IBF indicating a decreased resilience to eutrophication. The effects were strongest when IBF interrupted the seepage of CO rich groundwater resulting in lower macrophyte growth. IBF could also enhance water quality, but only when interrupting the seepage of groundwater with high nutrient concentrations. Higher summer water temperatures increased the share of cyanobacteria in the phytoplankton community and thus the risk of toxin production. In relative terms, the effects of changing sedimentation rates and oxygen penetration were small. Lake depth and size influenced the effect of IBF on critical nutrient loads, which was strongest in shallower and smaller lakes. Our model results stress the need of a more comprehensive ecosystem perspective including an assessment of IBF effects on threshold levels for regime shifts to prevent high phytoplankton abundance in the source water body and secure a sustainable drinking water supply.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2019.03.048DOI Listing
June 2019

Response of Submerged Macrophyte Communities to External and Internal Restoration Measures in North Temperate Shallow Lakes.

Front Plant Sci 2018 19;9:194. Epub 2018 Feb 19.

Department of Geography, Environmental Change Research Centre, University College London, London, United Kingdom.

Submerged macrophytes play a key role in north temperate shallow lakes by stabilizing clear-water conditions. Eutrophication has resulted in macrophyte loss and shifts to turbid conditions in many lakes. Considerable efforts have been devoted to shallow lake restoration in many countries, but long-term success depends on a stable recovery of submerged macrophytes. However, recovery patterns vary widely and remain to be fully understood. We hypothesize that reduced external nutrient loading leads to an intermediate recovery state with clear spring and turbid summer conditions similar to the pattern described for eutrophication. In contrast, lake internal restoration measures can result in transient clear-water conditions both in spring and summer and reversals to turbid conditions. Furthermore, we hypothesize that these contrasting restoration measures result in different macrophyte species composition, with added implications for seasonal dynamics due to differences in plant traits. To test these hypotheses, we analyzed data on water quality and submerged macrophytes from 49 north temperate shallow lakes that were in a turbid state and subjected to restoration measures. To study the dynamics of macrophytes during nutrient load reduction, we adapted the ecosystem model PCLake. Our survey and model simulations revealed the existence of an intermediate recovery state upon reduced external nutrient loading, characterized by spring clear-water phases and turbid summers, whereas internal lake restoration measures often resulted in clear-water conditions in spring and summer with returns to turbid conditions after some years. External and internal lake restoration measures resulted in different macrophyte communities. The intermediate recovery state following reduced nutrient loading is characterized by a few macrophyte species (mainly pondweeds) that can resist wave action allowing survival in shallow areas, germinate early in spring, have energy-rich vegetative propagules facilitating rapid initial growth and that can complete their life cycle by early summer. Later in the growing season these plants are, according to our simulations, outcompeted by periphyton, leading to late-summer phytoplankton blooms. Internal lake restoration measures often coincide with a rapid but transient colonization by hornworts, waterweeds or charophytes. Stable clear-water conditions and a diverse macrophyte flora only occurred decades after external nutrient load reduction or when measures were combined.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2018.00194DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5826081PMC
February 2018

Multimedia fate modeling of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS) in the shallow lake Chaohu, China.

Environ Pollut 2018 Jun 1;237:339-347. Epub 2018 Mar 1.

Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Department of Aquatic Ecology, PO Box 50, 6700 AB Wageningen, The Netherlands; Wageningen University & Research, Department of Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management, PO Box 47, 6700 AA, The Netherlands.

Freshwater shallow lake ecosystems provide valuable ecological services to human beings. However, these systems are subject to severe contamination from anthropogenic sources. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS), are among the contaminants that have received substantial attention, primarily due to abundant applications, environment persistence, and potential threats to ecological and human health. Understanding the environmental behavior of these contaminants in shallow freshwater lake environments using a modeling approach is therefore critical. Here, we characterize the fate, transport and transformation of both PFOA and PFOS in the fifth largest freshwater lake in China (Chaohu) during a two-year period (2013-2015) using a fugacity-based multimedia fate model. A reasonable agreement between the measured and modeled concentrations in various compartments confirms the model's reliability. The model successfully quantifies the environmental processes and identifies the major sources and input pathways of PFOA and PFOS to the Chaohu water body. Sensitivity analysis reveals the critical role of nonlinear Freundlich sorption, which contributes to a variable fraction of the model true uncertainty in different compartments (8.1%-93.6%). Through additional model scenario analyses, we further elucidate the importance of nonlinear Freundlich sorption that is essential for the reliable model performance. We also reveal the distinct composition of emission sources for the two contaminants, as the major sources are indirect soil volatilization and direct release from human activities for PFOA and PFOS, respectively. The present study is expected to provide implications for local management of PFASs pollution in Lake Chaohu and to contribute to developing a general model framework for the evaluation of PFASs in shallow lakes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2018.02.026DOI Listing
June 2018

Spatial identification of critical nutrient loads of large shallow lakes: Implications for Lake Taihu (China).

Water Res 2017 08 19;119:276-287. Epub 2017 Apr 19.

Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Department of Aquatic Ecology, PO Box 50, 6700 AB, Wageningen, The Netherlands; Wageningen University & Research, Department of Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management, PO Box 47, 6700 AA, The Netherlands.

Ongoing eutrophication frequently causes toxic phytoplankton blooms. This induces huge worldwide challenges for drinking water quality, food security and public health. Of crucial importance in avoiding and reducing blooms is to determine the maximum nutrient load ecosystems can absorb, while remaining in a good ecological state. These so called critical nutrient loads for lakes depend on the shape of the load-response curve. Due to spatial variation within lakes, load-response curves and therefore critical nutrient loads could vary throughout the lake. In this study we determine spatial patterns in critical nutrient loads for Lake Taihu (China) with a novel modelling approach called Spatial Ecosystem Bifurcation Analysis (SEBA). SEBA evaluates the impact of the lake's total external nutrient load on the local lake dynamics, resulting in a map of critical nutrient loads for different locations throughout the lake. Our analysis shows that the largest part of Lake Taihu follows a nonlinear load-response curve without hysteresis. The corresponding critical nutrient loads vary within the lake and depend on management goals, i.e. the maximum allowable chlorophyll concentration. According to our model, total nutrient loads need to be more than halved to reach chlorophyll-a concentrations of 30-40 μg L in most sections of the lake. To prevent phytoplankton blooms with 20 μg L chlorophyll-a throughout Lake Taihu, both phosphorus and nitrogen loads need a nearly 90% reduction. We conclude that our approach is of great value to determine critical nutrient loads of lake ecosystems such as Taihu and likely of spatially heterogeneous ecosystems in general.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2017.04.045DOI Listing
August 2017

Integrated ecological and chemical food web accumulation modeling explains PAH temporal trends during regime shifts in a shallow lake.

Water Res 2017 08 17;119:73-82. Epub 2017 Apr 17.

Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Wageningen University & Research, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA, Wageningen, The Netherlands; Wageningen Marine Research, P.O. Box 68, 1970 AB, IJmuiden, The Netherlands. Electronic address:

Shallow lakes can switch suddenly from a turbid situation with high concentrations of phytoplankton and other suspended solids to a vegetated state with clear water, and vice versa. These alternative stable states may have a substantial impact on the fate of hydrophobic organic compounds (HOCs). Models that are fit to simulate impacts from these complex interactions are scarce. We developed a contaminant fate model which is linked to an ecosystem model (PCLake) for shallow lakes. This integrated model was successful in simulating long-term dynamics (1953-2012) of representative polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the main biotic and abiotic components in a large shallow lake (Chaohu in China), which has undergone regime shifts in this period. Historical records from sediment cores were used to evaluate the model. The model revealed that regime shifts in shallow lakes had a strong impact on the fate of less hydrophobic compounds due to the large storage capacity of macrophytes, which accumulated up to 55.6% of phenanthrene in the clear state. The abrupt disappearance of macrophytes after the regime shift resulted in a sudden change in phenanthrene distribution, as the sediment became the major sink. For more hydrophobic compounds such as benzo(a)pyrene, the modeled impact of the regime shift was negligible for the whole environment, yet large for biotic compartments. This study is the first to provide a full mechanistic analysis of the impact of regime shifts on the fate of PAHs in a real lake ecosystem.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2017.04.042DOI Listing
August 2017

Mowing Submerged Macrophytes in Shallow Lakes with Alternative Stable States: Battling the Good Guys?

Environ Manage 2017 Apr 2;59(4):619-634. Epub 2017 Jan 2.

Department of Aquatic Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology, P.O. Box 50, Wageningen, 6700 AB, The Netherlands.

Submerged macrophytes play an important role in maintaining good water quality in shallow lakes. Yet extensive stands easily interfere with various services provided by these lakes, and harvesting is increasingly applied as a management measure. Because shallow lakes may possess alternative stable states over a wide range of environmental conditions, designing a successful mowing strategy is challenging, given the important role of macrophytes in stabilizing the clear water state. In this study, the integrated ecosystem model PCLake is used to explore the consequences of mowing, in terms of reducing nuisance and ecosystem stability, for a wide range of external nutrient loadings, mowing intensities and timings. Elodea is used as a model species. Additionally, we use PCLake to estimate how much phosphorus is removed with the harvested biomass, and evaluate the long-term effect of harvesting. Our model indicates that mowing can temporarily reduce nuisance caused by submerged plants in the first weeks after cutting, particularly when external nutrient loading is fairly low. The risk of instigating a regime shift can be tempered by mowing halfway the growing season when the resilience of the system is highest, as our model showed. Up to half of the phosphorus entering the system can potentially be removed along with the harvested biomass. As a result, prolonged mowing can prevent an oligo-to mesotrophic lake from becoming eutrophic to a certain extent, as our model shows that the critical nutrient loading, where the lake shifts to the turbid phytoplankton-dominated state, can be slightly increased.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00267-016-0811-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5339322PMC
April 2017

Hydrological regulation drives regime shifts: evidence from paleolimnology and ecosystem modeling of a large shallow Chinese lake.

Glob Chang Biol 2017 02 20;23(2):737-754. Epub 2016 Sep 20.

Department of Aquatic Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), P.O. Box 50, Wageningen, 6700 AB, The Netherlands.

Quantitative evidence of sudden shifts in ecological structure and function in large shallow lakes is rare, even though they provide essential benefits to society. Such 'regime shifts' can be driven by human activities which degrade ecological stability including water level control (WLC) and nutrient loading. Interactions between WLC and nutrient loading on the long-term dynamics of shallow lake ecosystems are, however, often overlooked and largely underestimated, which has hampered the effectiveness of lake management. Here, we focus on a large shallow lake (Lake Chaohu) located in one of the most densely populated areas in China, the lower Yangtze River floodplain, which has undergone both WLC and increasing nutrient loading over the last several decades. We applied a novel methodology that combines consistent evidence from both paleolimnological records and ecosystem modeling to overcome the hurdle of data insufficiency and to unravel the drivers and underlying mechanisms in ecosystem dynamics. We identified the occurrence of two regime shifts: one in 1963, characterized by the abrupt disappearance of submerged vegetation, and another around 1980, with strong algal blooms being observed thereafter. Using model scenarios, we further disentangled the roles of WLC and nutrient loading, showing that the 1963 shift was predominantly triggered by WLC, whereas the shift ca. 1980 was attributed to aggravated nutrient loading. Our analysis also shows interactions between these two stressors. Compared to the dynamics driven by nutrient loading alone, WLC reduced the critical P loading and resulted in earlier disappearance of submerged vegetation and emergence of algal blooms by approximately 26 and 10 years, respectively. Overall, our study reveals the significant role of hydrological regulation in driving shallow lake ecosystem dynamics, and it highlights the urgency of using multi-objective management criteria that includes ecological sustainability perspectives when implementing hydrological regulation for aquatic ecosystems around the globe.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13416DOI Listing
February 2017

An Integrated Coral Reef Ecosystem Model to Support Resource Management under a Changing Climate.

PLoS One 2015 16;10(12):e0144165. Epub 2015 Dec 16.

Pacific Island Fisheries Science Centre, NOAA Fisheries, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America.

Millions of people rely on the ecosystem services provided by coral reefs, but sustaining these benefits requires an understanding of how reefs and their biotic communities are affected by local human-induced disturbances and global climate change. Ecosystem-based management that explicitly considers the indirect and cumulative effects of multiple disturbances has been recommended and adopted in policies in many places around the globe. Ecosystem models give insight into complex reef dynamics and their responses to multiple disturbances and are useful tools to support planning and implementation of ecosystem-based management. We adapted the Atlantis Ecosystem Model to incorporate key dynamics for a coral reef ecosystem around Guam in the tropical western Pacific. We used this model to quantify the effects of predicted climate and ocean changes and current levels of current land-based sources of pollution (LBSP) and fishing. We used the following six ecosystem metrics as indicators of ecosystem state, resilience and harvest potential: 1) ratio of calcifying to non-calcifying benthic groups, 2) trophic level of the community, 3) biomass of apex predators, 4) biomass of herbivorous fishes, 5) total biomass of living groups and 6) the end-to-start ratio of exploited fish groups. Simulation tests of the effects of each of the three drivers separately suggest that by mid-century climate change will have the largest overall effect on this suite of ecosystem metrics due to substantial negative effects on coral cover. The effects of fishing were also important, negatively influencing five out of the six metrics. Moreover, LBSP exacerbates this effect for all metrics but not quite as badly as would be expected under additive assumptions, although the magnitude of the effects of LBSP are sensitive to uncertainty associated with primary productivity. Over longer time spans (i.e., 65 year simulations), climate change impacts have a slight positive interaction with other drivers, generally meaning that declines in ecosystem metrics are not as steep as the sum of individual effects of the drivers. These analyses offer one way to quantify impacts and interactions of particular stressors in an ecosystem context and so provide guidance to managers. For example, the model showed that improving water quality, rather than prohibiting fishing, extended the timescales over which corals can maintain high abundance by at least 5-8 years. This result, in turn, provides more scope for corals to adapt or for resilient species to become established and for local and global management efforts to reduce or reverse stressors.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0144165PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4682628PMC
June 2016

Food-web stability signals critical transitions in temperate shallow lakes.

Nat Commun 2015 Jul 15;6:7727. Epub 2015 Jul 15.

Department of Aquatic Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology, P.O. Box 50, 6700 AB Wageningen, The Netherlands.

A principal aim of ecologists is to identify critical levels of environmental change beyond which ecosystems undergo radical shifts in their functioning. Both food-web theory and alternative stable states theory provide fundamental clues to mechanisms conferring stability to natural systems. Yet, it is unclear how the concept of food-web stability is associated with the resilience of ecosystems susceptible to regime change. Here, we use a combination of food web and ecosystem modelling to show that impending catastrophic shifts in shallow lakes are preceded by a destabilizing reorganization of interaction strengths in the aquatic food web. Analysis of the intricate web of trophic interactions reveals that only few key interactions, involving zooplankton, diatoms and detritus, dictate the deterioration of food-web stability. Our study exposes a tight link between food-web dynamics and the dynamics of the whole ecosystem, implying that trophic organization may serve as an empirical indicator of ecosystem resilience.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms8727DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4518252PMC
July 2015

Competition for light and nutrients in layered communities of aquatic plants.

Am Nat 2015 Jul 30;186(1):72-83. Epub 2015 Apr 30.

Department of Aquatic Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), P.O. Box 50, NL-6700 AB Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Dominance of free-floating plants poses a threat to biodiversity in many freshwater ecosystems. Here we propose a theoretical framework to understand this dominance, by modeling the competition for light and nutrients in a layered community of floating and submerged plants. The model shows that at high supply of light and nutrients, floating plants always dominate due to their primacy for light, even when submerged plants have lower minimal resource requirements. The model also shows that floating-plant dominance cannot be an alternative stable state in light-limited environments but only in nutrient-limited environments, depending on the plants' resource consumption traits. Compared to unlayered communities, the asymmetry in competition for light-coincident with symmetry in competition for nutrients-leads to fundamentally different results: competition outcomes can no longer be predicted from species traits such as minimal resource requirements ([Formula: see text] rule) and resource consumption. Also, the same two species can, depending on the environment, coexist or be alternative stable states. When applied to two common plant species in temperate regions, both the model and field data suggest that floating-plant dominance is unlikely to be an alternative stable state.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/681620DOI Listing
July 2015

Pattern formation at multiple spatial scales drives the resilience of mussel bed ecosystems.

Nat Commun 2014 Oct 22;5:5234. Epub 2014 Oct 22.

1] Department of Spatial Ecology, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, PO Box 140, 4400 AC Yerseke, The Netherlands [2] Community and Conservation Ecology Group, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, PO Box 11103, 9700 CC Groningen, The Netherlands.

Self-organized complexity at multiple spatial scales is a distinctive characteristic of biological systems. Yet, little is known about how different self-organizing processes operating at different spatial scales interact to determine ecosystem functioning. Here we show that the interplay between self-organizing processes at individual and ecosystem level is a key determinant of the functioning and resilience of mussel beds. In mussel beds, self-organization generates spatial patterns at two characteristic spatial scales: small-scale net-shaped patterns due to behavioural aggregation of individuals, and large-scale banded patterns due to the interplay of between-mussel facilitation and resource depletion. Model analysis reveals that the interaction between these behavioural and ecosystem-level mechanisms increases mussel bed resilience, enables persistence under deteriorating conditions and makes them less prone to catastrophic collapse. Our analysis highlights that interactions between different forms of self-organization at multiple spatial scales may enhance the intrinsic ability of ecosystems to withstand both natural and human-induced disturbances.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms6234DOI Listing
October 2014

Community stoichiometry in a changing world: combined effects of warming and eutrophication on phytoplankton dynamics.

Ecology 2014 Jun;95(6):1485-95

The current changes in our climate will likely have far-reaching consequences for aquatic ecosystems. These changes in the climate, however, do not act alone, and are often accompanied by additional stressors such as eutrophication. Both global warming and eutrophication have been shown to affect the timing and magnitude of phytoplankton blooms. Little is known about the combined effects of rising temperatures and eutrophication on the stoichiometry of entire phytoplankton communities. We exposed a natural phytoplankton spring community to different warming and phosphorus-loading scenarios using a full-factorial design. Our results demonstrate that rising temperatures promote the growth rate of an entire phytoplankton community. Furthermore, both rising temperatures and phosphorus loading stimulated the maximum biomass built up by the phytoplankton community. Rising temperatures led to higher carbon: nutrient stoichiometry of the phytoplankton community under phosphorus-limited conditions. Such a shift towards higher carbon: nutrient ratios, in combination with a higher biomass buildup, suggests a temperature-driven increase in nutrient use efficiency, the phytoplankton community. Importantly, with higher carbon: nutrient stoichiometry, phytoplankton is generally of poorer nutritional value for zooplankton. Thus, although warming may result in higher phytoplankton biomass, this may be accompanied by a stoichiometric mismatch between phytoplankton and their grazers, with possible consequences for the entire aquatic food web.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/13-1251.1DOI Listing
June 2014

Alternative stable states and alternative endstates of community assembly through intra- and interspecific positive and negative interactions.

Theor Popul Biol 2014 Sep 10;96:8-18. Epub 2014 Jul 10.

Department of Aquatic Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), P.O. Box 50, 6700 AB Wageningen, The Netherlands; Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands. Electronic address:

Positive and negative interactions within and between species may occur simultaneously, with the net effect depending on population densities. For instance, at low densities plants may ameliorate stress, while competition for resources dominates at higher densities. Here, we propose a simple two-species model in which con- and heterospecifics have a positive effect on per capita growth rate at low densities, while negative interactions dominate at high densities. The model thus includes both Allee effects (intraspecific positive effects) and mutualism (interspecific positive effects), as well as intra- and interspecific competition. Using graphical methods we derive conditions for alternative stable states and species coexistence. We show that mutual non-invasibility (i.e. the inability of each species to invade a population of the other) is more likely when species have a strong positive effect on the own species or a strong negative effect on the other species. Mutual non-invasibility implies alternative stable states, however, there may also be alternative stable states at which species coexist. In the case of species symmetry (i.e. when species are indistinguishable), such alternative coexistence states require that if the positive effect exerted at low densities at the own species is stronger than on the other species, the negative effect at higher densities is also stronger on the own species than on the other species, or, vice versa, if the interspecific positive effects at low densities are stronger than the intraspecific effects, the negative effects at higher densities are also stronger between species than within species. However, the reachability of alternative stable states is restricted by the frequency and density at which species are introduced during community assembly, so that alternative stable states do not always represent alternative endstates of community assembly.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tpb.2014.07.001DOI Listing
September 2014

Plant functional types define magnitude of drought response in peatland CO2 exchange.

Ecology 2014 Jan;95(1):123-31

Peatlands are important sinks for atmospheric carbon (C), yet the role of plant functional types (PFTs) for C sequestration under climatic perturbations is still unclear. A plant-removal experiment was used to study the importance of vascular PFTs for the net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) during (i.e., resistance) and after (i.e., recovery) an experimental drought. The removal of PFTs caused a decrease of NEE, but the rate differed between microhabitats (i.e., hummocks and lawns) and the type of PFTs. Ericoid removal had a large effect on NEE in hummocks, while the graminoids played a major role in the lawns. The removal of PFTs did not affect the resistance or the recovery after the experimental drought. We argue that the response of Sphagnum mosses (the only PFT present in all treatments) to drought is dominant over that of coexisting PFTs. However, we observed that the moment in time when the system switched from C sink to C source during the drought was controlled by the vascular PFTs. In the light of climate change, the shifts in species composition or even the loss of certain PFTs are expected to strongly affect the future C dynamics in response to environmental stress.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/13-0270.1DOI Listing
January 2014

Effects of climate and nutrient load on the water quality of shallow lakes assessed through ensemble runs by PCLake.

Ecol Appl 2014;24(8):1926-44

Complex ecological models are used to predict the consequences of anticipated future changes in climate and nutrient loading for lake water quality. These models may, however, suffer from nonuniqueness in that various sets of model parameter values may yield equally satisfactory representations of the system being modeled, but when applied in future scenarios these sets of values may divert considerably in their simulated outcomes. Compilation of an ensemble of model runs allows us to account for simulation variability arising from model parameter estimates. Thus, we propose a new approach for aquatic ecological models creating a more robust prediction of future water quality. We used our ensemble approach in an application of the widely used PCLake model for Danish shallow Lake Arreskov, which during the past two decades has demonstrated frequent shifts between turbid and clear water states. Despite marked variability, the span of our ensemble runs encapsulated 70–90% of the observed variation in lake water quality. The model exercise demonstrates that future warming and increased nutrient loading lead to lower probability of a clear water, vegetation-rich state and greater likelihood of cyanobacteria dominance. In a 6.0°C warming scenario, for instance, the current nutrient loading of nitrogen and phosphorus must be reduced by about 75% to maintain the present ecological state of Lake Arreskov, but even in a near-future 2.0°C warming scenario, a higher probability of a turbid, cyanobacteria-dominated state is predicted. As managers may wish to determine the probability of achieving a certain ecological state, our proposed ensemble approach facilitates new ways of communicating future stressor impacts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/13-0790.1DOI Listing
December 2017

Was Lates late? A null model for the Nile perch boom in Lake Victoria.

PLoS One 2013 18;8(10):e76847. Epub 2013 Oct 18.

Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands ; Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.

Nile perch (Lates niloticus) suddenly invaded Lake Victoria between 1979 and 1987, 25 years after its introduction in the Ugandan side of the lake. Nile perch then replaced the native fish diversity and irreversibly altered the ecosystem and its role to lakeshore societies: it is now a prised export product that supports millions of livelihoods. The delay in the Nile perch boom led to a hunt for triggers of the sudden boom and generated several hypotheses regarding its growth at low abundances--all hypotheses having important implications for the management of Nile perch stocks. We use logistic growth as a parsimonious null model to predict when the Nile perch invasion should have been expected, given its growth rate, initial stock size and introduction year. We find the first exponential growth phase can explain the timing of the perch boom at the scale of Lake Victoria, suggesting that complex mechanisms are not necessary to explain the Nile perch invasion or its timing. However, the boom started in Kenya before Uganda, indicating perhaps that Allee effects act at smaller scales than that of the whole Lake. The Nile perch invasion of other lakes indicates that habitat differences may also have an effect on invasion success. Our results suggest there is probably no single management strategy applicable to the whole lake that would lead to both efficient and sustainable exploitation of its resources.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0076847PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3800122PMC
August 2014

Explaining bacterial dispersion on leaf surfaces with an individual-based model (PHYLLOSIM).

PLoS One 2013 4;8(10):e75633. Epub 2013 Oct 4.

Department of Microbial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Wageningen, The Netherlands.

We developed the individual-based model PHYLLOSIM to explain observed variation in the size of bacterial clusters on plant leaf surfaces (the phyllosphere). Specifically, we tested how different 'waterscapes' impacted the diffusion of nutrients from the leaf interior to the surface and the growth of individual bacteria on these nutrients. In the 'null' model or more complex 'patchy' models, the surface was covered with a continuous water film or with water drops of equal or different volumes, respectively. While these models predicted the growth of individual bacterial immigrants into clusters of variable sizes, they were unable to reproduce experimentally derived, previously published patterns of dispersion which were characterized by a much larger variation in cluster sizes and a disproportionate occurrence of clusters consisting of only one or two bacteria. The fit of model predictions to experimental data was about equally poor (<5%) regardless of whether the water films were continuous or patchy. Only by allowing individual bacteria to detach from developing clusters and re-attach elsewhere to start a new cluster, did PHYLLOSIM come much closer to reproducing experimental observations. The goodness of fit including detachment increased to about 70-80% for all waterscapes. Predictions of this 'detachment' model were further supported by the visualization and quantification of bacterial detachment and attachment events at an agarose-water interface. Thus, both model and experiment suggest that detachment of bacterial cells from clusters is an important mechanism underlying bacterial exploration of the phyllosphere.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0075633PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3790818PMC
July 2014

Testing the paradox of enrichment along a land use gradient in a multitrophic aboveground and belowground community.

PLoS One 2012 8;7(11):e49034. Epub 2012 Nov 8.

Department of Terrestrial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology NIOO-KNAW, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

In the light of ongoing land use changes, it is important to understand how multitrophic communities perform at different land use intensities. The paradox of enrichment predicts that fertilization leads to destabilization and extinction of predator-prey systems. We tested this prediction for a land use intensity gradient from natural to highly fertilized agricultural ecosystems. We included multiple aboveground and belowground trophic levels and land use-dependent searching efficiencies of insects. To overcome logistic constraints of field experiments, we used a successfully validated simulation model to investigate plant responses to removal of herbivores and their enemies. Consistent with our predictions, instability measured by herbivore-induced plant mortality increased with increasing land use intensity. Simultaneously, the balance between herbivores and natural enemies turned increasingly towards herbivore dominance and natural enemy failure. Under natural conditions, there were more frequently significant effects of belowground herbivores and their natural enemies on plant performance, whereas there were more aboveground effects in agroecosystems. This result was partly due to the "boom-bust" behavior of the shoot herbivore population. Plant responses to herbivore or natural enemy removal were much more abrupt than the imposed smooth land use intensity gradient. This may be due to the presence of multiple trophic levels aboveground and belowground. Our model suggests that destabilization and extinction are more likely to occur in agroecosystems than in natural communities, but the shape of the relationship is nonlinear under the influence of multiple trophic interactions.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0049034PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3493510PMC
July 2013

The resilience and resistance of an ecosystem to a collapse of diversity.

PLoS One 2012 27;7(9):e46135. Epub 2012 Sep 27.

Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, The Netherlands.

Diversity is expected to increase the resilience of ecosystems. Nevertheless, highly diverse ecosystems have collapsed, as did Lake Victoria's ecosystem of cichlids or Caribbean coral reefs. We try to gain insight to this paradox, by analyzing a simple model of a diverse community where each competing species inflicts a small mortality pressure on an introduced predator. High diversity strengthens this feedback and prevents invasion of the introduced predator. After a gradual loss of native species, the introduced predator can escape control and the system collapses into a contrasting, invaded, low-diversity state. Importantly, we find that a diverse system that has high complementarity gains in resilience, whereas a diverse system with high functional redundancy gains in resistance. Loss of resilience can display early-warning signals of a collapse, but loss of resistance not. Our results emphasize the need for multiple approaches to studying the functioning of ecosystems, as managing an ecosystem requires understanding not only the threats it is vulnerable to but also pressures it appears resistant to.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0046135PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3459835PMC
March 2013

GENOTYPE-BY-TEMPERATURE INTERACTIONS MAY HELP TO MAINTAIN CLONAL DIVERSITY IN ASTERIONELLA FORMOSA (BACILLARIOPHYCEAE).

J Phycol 2012 Oct 13;48(5):1197-208. Epub 2012 Sep 13.

Department of Aquatic Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), 6708 PB, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Marine and freshwater phytoplankton populations often show large clonal diversity, which is in disagreement with clonal selection of the most vigorous genotype(s). Temporal fluctuation in selection pressures in variable environments is a leading explanation for maintenance of such genetic diversity. To test the influence of temperature as a selection force in continually (seasonally) changing aquatic systems we carried out reaction norms experiments on co-occurring clonal genotypes of a ubiquitous diatom species, Asterionella formosa Hassall, across an environmentally relevant range of temperatures. We report within population genetic diversity and extensive diversity in genotype-specific reaction norms in growth rates and cell size traits. Our results showed genotype by environment interactions, indicating that no genotype could outgrow all others across all temperature environments. Subsequently, we constructed a model to simulate the relative proportion of each genotype in a hypothetical population based on genotype and temperature-specific population growth rates. This model was run with different seasonal temperature patterns. Our modeling exercise showed a succession of two to several genotypes becoming numerically dominant depending on the underlying temperature pattern. The results suggest that (temperature) context dependent fitness may contribute to the maintenance of genetic diversity in isolated populations of clonally reproducing microorganisms in temporally variable environments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1529-8817.2012.01205.xDOI Listing
October 2012

Collapse and reorganization of a food web of Mwanza Gulf, Lake Victoria.

Ecol Appl 2012 Jan;22(1):229-39

Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 47, NL-6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Lake Victoria in East Africa is the world's second largest freshwater system. Over the past century the ecosystem has undergone drastic changes. Some 30 years after the introduction of Nile perch (Lates niloticus) and Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) in the 1950s, the highly diverse community of native haplochromines collapsed, leaving a system dominated by only four species: the native cyprinid dagaa (Rastrineobola argentea) and shrimp (Caridina nilotica), as well as the introduced Nile perch and Nile tilapia. More recently, an unexpected resurgence of haplochromines has been reported. To understand these changes in terms of ecosystem functioning and of changes in growth of trophic groups, we created mass balances of the food web near Mwanza, Tanzania, before, during, and after the Nile perch boom (1977, 1987, and 2005), using the application ECOPATH. We connected these mass balances with a dynamic model assuming linear trends in net growth rates of the trophic groups. Our analysis suggests that the Nile perch boom initially altered the biomass distribution over trophic levels. Also, results indicate that not only fishing but also changes at the detritivores' trophic level might have played an important role in driving changes in the system. Both the mass balances and the dynamic model connecting them reveal that, after a major distortion during the Nile perch boom, the biomass distribution over the main trophic levels had largely recovered its original (1977) state by 2005. However, no such return appeared in terms of community structure. Biodiversity in the new state is dramatically lower, consisting of introduced species and a few native surviving species. We conclude that at an aggregate level Lake Victoria's ecosystem has proved to be resilient in the sense that its overall trophic structure has apparently recovered after a major perturbation. By contrast, its intricate functional structure and associated biodiversity have proved to be fragile and seem unlikely to recover.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/11-0941.1DOI Listing
January 2012

Experimental evidence for spatial self-organization and its emergent effects in mussel bed ecosystems.

Science 2008 Oct;322(5902):739-42

Spatial Ecology Department, the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Post Office Box 140, 4400 AC Yerseke, Netherlands.

Spatial self-organization is the main theoretical explanation for the global occurrence of regular or otherwise coherent spatial patterns in ecosystems. Using mussel beds as a model ecosystem, we provide an experimental demonstration of spatial self-organization. Under homogeneous laboratory conditions, mussels developed regular patterns, similar to those in the field. An individual-based model derived from our experiments showed that interactions between individuals explained the observed patterns. Furthermore, a field study showed that pattern formation affected ecosystem-level processes in terms of improved growth and resistance to wave action. Our results imply that spatial self-organization is an important determinant of the structure and functioning of ecosystems, and it needs to be considered in their conservation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1163952DOI Listing
October 2008

Inducible defenses, competition and shared predation in planktonic food chains.

Oecologia 2008 Oct 25;157(4):697-705. Epub 2008 Jul 25.

Department of Aquatic Food Webs, Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Centre for Limnology, Rijksstraatweg 6, Nieuwersluis, The Netherlands.

Ecologists have long debated the role of predation in mediating the coexistence of prey species. Theory has mainly taken a bitrophic perspective that excludes the effects of inducible defenses at different trophic levels. However, inducible defenses could either limit or enhance the effects of predation on coexistence, by means of effects on bottom-up control and population stability. Our aim was to investigate how inducible defenses at different trophic levels affect the possibilities for predator-mediated coexistence, as opposed to competitive exclusion, in replicated experimental plankton communities. In particular, we analyzed how the presence or absence of inducible defenses in algal basal prey affected the outcome of competition between an inducible defended and an undefended herbivore, in the presence or absence of a carnivore. We found the undefended herbivore to be a superior competitor in the absence of predation. This outcome was reversed in the presence of a shared carnivore: populations of the undefended herbivore then strongly declined. The extent of this population decline differed between food webs based on undefended as opposed to inducible defended algal prey. In the former the undefended herbivore became undetectable for most of the duration of the experiment. In the latter the undefended herbivore also crashed to low densities, but it could still be detected during most of the experiment. In food webs based on inducible defended algae, the carnivore failed to reach high densities and exerted weaker top-down control on the two competing herbivores. We conclude that the inducible defense in one of our two competing herbivores allowed the outcome of competition to be reversed when a shared carnivore was added. Inducible defenses in algae did not change this outcome, but they significantly delayed extinction of the undefended herbivore. Predation itself did not promote coexistence in these experimental plankton communities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00442-008-1111-1DOI Listing
October 2008

The contribution of marsh zones to water quality in Dutch shallow lakes: a modeling study.

Environ Manage 2008 Dec 22;42(6):1002-16. Epub 2008 Apr 22.

Section of Landscape Ecology, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80084, 3508 TB Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Many lakes have experienced a transition from a clear into a turbid state without macrophyte growth due to eutrophication. There are several measures by which nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations in the surface water can be reduced. We used the shallow lake model PCLake to evaluate the effects of three measures (reducing external nutrient loading, increasing relative marsh area, and increasing exchange rate between open water and marsh) on water quality improvement. Furthermore, the contribution of different retention processes was calculated. Settling and burial contributed more to nutrient retention than denitrification. The model runs for a typical shallow lake in The Netherlands showed that after increasing relative marsh area to 50%, total phosphorous (TP) concentration in the surface water was lower than the Maximum Admissible Risk (MAR, a Dutch government water quality standard) level, in contrast to total nitrogen (TN) concentration. The MAR levels could also be achieved by reducing N and P load. However, reduction of nutrient concentrations to MAR levels did not result in a clear lake state with submerged vegetation. Only a combination of a more drastic reduction of the present nutrient loading, in combination with a relatively large marsh cover (approximately 50%) would lead to such a clear state. We therefore concluded that littoral marsh areas can make a small but significant contribution to lake recovery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00267-008-9121-7DOI Listing
December 2008

Adaptation of the fungal parasite Zygorhizidium planktonicum during 200 generations of growth on homogeneous and heterogeneous populations of its host, the diatom Asterionella formosa.

J Eukaryot Microbiol 2008 Mar-Apr;55(2):69-74

Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Centre for Limnology, Rijksstraatweg 6, 3631 AC, Nieuwersluis, The Netherlands.

We followed adaptation of the chytrid parasite Zygorhizidium planktonicum during 200 generations of growth on its host, the freshwater diatom Asterionella formosa, in a serial passage experiment. Evolution of parasite fitness was assessed both on a homogenous and heterogeneous host population, consisting of respectively a single new and ten different new host strains. These 10 host strains were genetically different and also varied in their initial susceptibility to the parasite. Parasite fitness increased significantly and rapidly on the new, genetically homogenous host population, but remained unaltered during 200 generations of growth on the heterogeneous host population. Enhanced parasite fitness was the result of faster and more efficient transmission, resulting in higher values of R0 (number of secondary infections). Consequently, parasites that evolved within the uniclonal host population infected significantly more of these hosts than did their ancestors. We thus provide experimental evidence for the widely held view that host genetic diversity restricts evolution of parasites and moderates their harmful effects. Genetically uniform host populations are not only at increased risk from fungal epidemics because they all share the same susceptibility, but also because new parasite strains are able to adapt quickly to new host environments and to improve their fitness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1550-7408.2008.00306.xDOI Listing
April 2008

Induced defenses in herbivores and plants differentially modulate a trophic cascade.

Ecology 2007 Oct;88(10):2474-81

Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNA W), Centre for Limnology, Department of Food Web Studies, Rijksstraatweg 6, 3631 AC Nieuwersluis, The Netherlands.

Inducible defenses are dynamic traits that modulate the strength of both plant-herbivore and herbivore-carnivore interactions. Surprisingly few studies have considered the relative contributions of induced plant and herbivore defenses to the overall balance of bottom-up and top-down control. Here we compare trophic cascade strengths using replicated two-level and three-level plankton communities in which we systematically varied the presence or absence of induced defenses at the plant and/or herbivore levels. Our results show that a trophic cascade, i.e., significantly higher plant biomass in three-level than in two-level food chains, occurred whenever herbivores were undefended against carnivores. Trophic cascades did not occur when herbivores exhibited an induced defense. This pattern was obtained irrespective of the presence or absence of induced defenses at the plant level. We thus found that herbivore defenses, not plant defenses, had an overriding effect on cascade strength. We discuss these results in relation to variation in cascade strengths in natural communities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/07-1731.1DOI Listing
October 2007
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