By studying how plants in three hyper-diverse grasslands change annually over a decade, ecologists Jason Fridley (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Robert Peet (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Eddy van der Maarel (University of Groningen), and Jo Willems (Utrecht University) show how one crucial property of ecosystems--the species-area curve, describing the relation of area and number of species--cannot be fully understood unless annual changes in the species composition of local communities are taken into account.
Reporting in The American Naturalist, Fridley and colleagues demonstrate, for the first time, that "local" species-area curves (those confined to one community) and those of large regions can be linked if one considers that the species composition of small areas changes faster than that of larger areas.
"It is increasingly clear," says Fridley, "that plant communities are dynamic entities in which variation in space and time are inextricably linked."
Indeed, ecologists have argued for decades over why species-area curves measured locally do not seem to match predictions derived from larger areas. This study shows that smaller surveys are heavily constrained by the poor sample size of individuals in any given year. Over time, as individuals die and are replaced by others from the surrounding area, the sample size increases and the community begins to more resemble its region--but in a manner that strictly follows the region's species-area curve.
This novel connection of local and regional biodiversity patterns extends the generality of the species-area relationship to very small areas, and thus allows ecologists to explicitly link processes that drive biodiversity across scales.
Suzanne Wu | EurekAlert!
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A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
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Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
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