Dirk Hattermann, Markus Bernhardt-Römermann, Annette Otte  and Lutz Eckstein recently published the paper “Geese are overlooked dispersal vectors for vascular plants in archipelago environments” in Journal of Vegetation Science.

 

In the abstract, the authors write:

 

“Question

We addressed the importance of gut‐mediated dispersal by Greylag Goose for vascular plants in archipelago environments and asked:

(i) What proportion of the local species pool is dispersed by geese?.

(ii) Which plant traits characterize species dispersed by geese?.

(iii) Which plant communities are likely to benefit from endozoochory by geese?.

 

Location

Three Swedish Baltic archipelagos.

 

Methods

Goose droppings were collected on 45 islands. Plants germinating from the droppings represent the endozoochorous species pool (ESP). On 108 islands, the presence of vascular plants was recorded in each habitat. These species represent the island species pool (ISP). Differences in functional traits between ESP and ISP were expressed as effect sizes and tested using meta‐regressions. Using indicator species analyses and indicator species for managed semi‐natural grasslands, we identified the primary habitats of the ESP.

 

Results

Geese dispersed viable diaspores of 97 plant species, which represents 22% of the ISP. Most ESP species were typical for small islands. Geese dispersed a higher proportion of graminoids and less woody plants, higher proportions of chamaephytes and therophytes and less phanerophytes; annuals and bi‐annuals were significantly overrepresented. One average, seed volume of the ESP was 95 % smaller than that of the ISP. About 51% of all ESP species were dispersed in at least two archipelagos. Geese showed a bias towards species of rocky shore habitats.

 

Conclusion

Geese potentially disperse large amounts of diaspores of many terrestrial island plant species. Through their feeding behaviour, geese select species with certain suites of traits from the regional species pool. Plant dispersal by geese may benefit plants species of rocky shores, but species of formerly managed semi‐natural grasslands may also find refuge sites on epilittoral shores after goose‐mediated dispersal. The relative importance of geese as dispersal vectors may increase under ongoing land‐use changes and cessation of grazing networks.”

 

Access the paper here, or contact any of the authors.

Viola elatior and the two habitats used in the study: early successional floodplain meadows and late successional alluvian woodlands. Photos: Benjamin Schulz.

Benjamin Schulz, Walter Durka, Jiří Danihelka and Lutz Eckstein recently published the research paper “Differential role of a persistent seed bank for genetic variation in early vs. late successional stages” in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. In the abstract, the authors write:

“Persistent seed banks are predicted to have an important impact on population genetic processes by increasing effective population size and storing past genetic diversity. Accordingly, persistent seed banks may buffer genetic effects of disturbance, fragmentation and/or selection. However, empirical studies surveying the relationship between aboveground and seed bank genetics under changing environments are scarce. Here, we compared genetic variation of aboveground and seed bank cohorts in 15 populations of the partially cleistogamous Viola elatior in two contrasting early and late successional habitats characterized by strong differences in light-availability and declining population size. Using AFLP markers, we found significantly higher aboveground than seed bank genetic diversity in early successional meadow but not in late successional woodland habitats. Moreover, individually, three of eight woodland populations even showed higher seed bank than aboveground diversity. Genetic differentiation among populations was very strong (фST = 0.8), but overall no significant differentiation could be detected between above ground and seed bank cohorts. Small scale spatial genetic structure was generally pronounced but was much stronger in meadow (Sp-statistic: aboveground: 0.60, seed bank: 0.32) than in woodland habitats (aboveground: 0.11; seed bank: 0.03). Our findings indicate that relative seed bank diversity (i.e. compared to aboveground diversity) increases with ongoing succession and despite decreasing population size. As corroborated by markedly lower small-scale genetic structure in late successional habitats, we suggest that the observed changes in relative seed bank diversity are driven by an increase of outcrossing rates. Persistent seed banks in Viola elatior hence will counteract effects of drift and selection, and assure a higher chance for the species’ long term persistence, particularly maintaining genetic variation in declining populations of late successional habitats and thus enhancing success rates of population recovery after disturbance events.”

Read the paper here!

 

Two PhD positions (1: vegetation ecology, 2: ecosystem function/host-parasite interactions) are now open for applicants at Karlstad University. Both positions are full time for five years within the River Ecology and Management (NRRV) research group and include 80 % research and 20 % department duties (mainly teaching).

The applications for both positions close on 31 January 2019.

 

PhD position in vegetation ecology

River Klarälven, Värmland

The project will study which factors control diaspore dispersal and plant community composition along boreal streams, which in turn may have cascading effects on functional plant diversity and ecosystem functioning. The specific research questions to be addressed will be decided in consultation with the candidate. Areas of particular interest are (1) the effects of local and landscape-scale factors for plant species composition and diversity and cascading effects on ecosystem functioning and (2) studies of factors promoting or constraining plant dispersal along streams.

Read more and apply for the position here!

 

Ecosystem function/host-parasite interactions

The position will focus on either the role of mussels for ecosystem function or host-parasite interactions. Areas of interest are (1) the role of mussels for stream ecosystem function and (2) host-parasite interactions between mussels and their host fish. The specific research questions to be addressed will be decided in consultation with the candidate.

Read more and apply for the position here!