Many types of vegetation have more or less ground cover and recruitment of new individuals often occurs only in temporarily empty patches or gaps. Ever since Watt’s (1947) Presidential address to the BES, the Journal of Ecology has been publishing the results of investigations into the importance of processes in such gaps in the determination of community structure. Three recent papers from Norway, the UK and the USA (Vandvik 2004, Turnbull et al. 2004 and Ewanchuk and Bertness, 2004, respectively - all in volume 92, issue 1), report different approaches to addressing this issue.
Working in salt marches in New England, USA, Ewanchuk and Bertness show that the recolonisation of gaps generated by ice scour is slow and driven by competitive processes. Parts of these marshes consist of patches of sparse, but species-rich, vegetation dominated by non-grassy herbaceous plants (forbs). These areas were found to be inhospitable to plants which grew well nearby, suggesting physical limitation at the local scale, while the forbs were restricted to these patches by interspecific competition.
Vandvik showed that revegetation of gaps in subalpine grassland in Norway depended upon gap size and grassland age along a gradient of secondary succession. The degree to which individual species depended on gaps for regeneration changed as the disturbance regime altered during succession, with such gap phase processes being important for a majority (74%) of species in the system. Taking a more mechanistic and small-scale approach, Turnbull et al. also found that most species of annuals in a limestone grassland showed a preference for colonizing unvegetated patches. Through a series of exacting and careful measurements of individual plants and neighbourhood modeling they derived individual-level competition coefficients for seven annuals. Seed size was found to be a key trait determining both competitive and colonizing ability.
Becky Allen | alfa
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Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.
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A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
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18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy