Ecology and environmental management is largely predicated on the view that ecosystems respond to environmental changes in a smooth and straightforward way. However, in Ecology Letters, May, Schmitz reports on a long-term field experiment that may prompt a hard, critical look at this reigning view. In the experimental system, top predators instrumentally control species diversity and productivity of the ecosystem. This control comes about by causing herbivores to feed on and suppress the abundance of a highly productive plant that otherwise would out-compete many other plant species. Alteration of this control by a predator removal experiment caused rapid increase in the abundance of the competitive dominant plant. It also caused an abrupt, catastrophic loss of plant species diversity. Attempts to restore plant diversity by reintroducing the predators back into the system failed. This failure happened because the ecosystem became locked into an alternate stable state in which herbivores were incapable of suppressing the now highly productive, competitively dominant plant.
The study provides a cautionary tale that ecosystem management which alters predator abundances even slightly may cause dramatic and irreversible shifts in the productivity and diversity of ecosystems.
Kate Stinchcombe | alfa
From the Arctic to the tropics: researchers present a unique database on Earth’s vegetation
20.11.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Fading stripes in Southeast Asia: First insight into the ecology of an elusive and threatened rabbit
20.11.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.
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Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
20.11.2018 | Life Sciences
20.11.2018 | Life Sciences
20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy