Items 1-20 of 670

    • Journal Article

      What Difference Does Public Participation Make? An Alternative Futures Assessment Based on the Development Preferences for Cultural Landscape Corridor Planning in the Silk Roads Area, China 

      Xu; Plieninger; Zhao; Primdahl
      Sustainability 2019; 11(22): Art. 6525
      Landscape corridor planning (LCP) has become a widespread practice for promoting sustainable regional development. This highly complex planning process covers many policy and planning issues concerning the local landscape, and ideally involves the people who live in the area to be developed. In China, regional planners and administrators encourage the development of landscape corridor planning. However, the current LCP process rarely considers ideas from local residents, and public participation is not recognized as beneficial to planning outcomes. We use a specific Chinese case of LCP to analyze how citizen involvement may enrich sustainable spatial planning in respect to ideas considered and solutions developed. To this end, we compare a recently approved landscape corridor plan that was created without public participation with alternative solutions for the same landscape corridor, developed with the involvement of local residents. These alternatives were then evaluated by professional planners who had been involved in the initial planning process. We demonstrate concrete differences between planning solutions developed with and without public participation. Further, we show that collaborative processes can minimize spatial conflicts. Finally, we demonstrate that public participation does indeed contribute to innovations that could enrich the corridor plan that had been produced exclusively by the decision-makers. The paper closes with a discussion of difficulties that might accompany the involvement of local residents during sustainable LCP in China.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Effects of political instability on the volatility of Palestinian food prices 

      Ihle, Rico; El-Jafari, Mahmoud Khader; von Cramon-Taubadel, Stephan
      New Medit 2019; 18(3) p.59-76
      Political instabilities and violent political conflict have in recent years risen substantially throughout the world. Especially in the Middle East and North Africa they have grown to decisive factors permanently challenging the livelihoods of millions. We assess whether and to what extent varying intensities of conflict impact economic activity in Palestine which has been subject to substantial violent political conflict for decades. In particular, we analyse the relationship between various intensity levels of political instability measured by conflict-caused fatalities and uncertainty of weekly food prices in the West Bank between 2004 and 2011 using a GARCH model. We consider four food commodities covering vegetables, fruits and animal products. Banana and milk prices are found not to show clustered volatility while onion and pear prices do. The impact of varying conflict intensities on weekly average prices appears to be modest. This might suggest that effects happen on a temporally and geographically more disaggregated scale.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Insect conservation in agricultural landscapes: An outlook for policy-relevant research 

      Mupepele, Anne-Christine; Böhning-Gaese, Katrin; Lakner, Sebastian; Plieninger, Tobias; Schoof, Nicolas; Klein, Alexandra-Maria
      GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society 2019; 28(4) p.342-347
      Insect populations decline, particularly in intensively managed agricultural landscapes. Insect communities are influenced by current agricultural practices, which are themselves determined by the economic, political and social frameworks. We highlight these direct and indirect drivers affecting insect communities, raise key research questions and discuss options for action to encourage a transformative change towards an economic, political and social system protecting biodiversity.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Back to the future: rethinking socioecological systems underlying high nature value farmlands 

      Lomba, Angela; Moreira, Francisco; Klimek, Sebastian; Jongman, Robert H. G.; Sullivan, Caroline; Moran, James; Poux, Xavier; Honrado, João P.; Pinto‐Correia, Teresa; Plieninger, Tobias; et al.
      McCracken, David I.
      Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 2019; 18(1) p.36-42
      Farmlands are currently among the dominant uses of the land. When managed under low‐input farming systems, farmlands are associated with diverse cultural and natural heritages around the world. Known in Europe as high nature value (HNV) farmlands, these agricultural landscapes and their associated farming systems evolved as tightly coupled socioecological systems, and are essential to biodiversity conservation and the delivery of ecosystem services to society. However, HNV farmlands are vulnerable to socioeconomic changes that lead to either agricultural intensification or land abandonment. We present a range of plausible future scenarios for HNV farmlands, and discuss the related management options and expected socioecological outcomes for each scenario. We then provide recommendations for policy, practice, and research on how to best ensure the socioecological viability of HNV farming systems in the future.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Measuring ecosystem multifunctionality across scales 

      Hölting, Lisanne; Jacobs, Sander; Felipe-Lucia, María R.; Maes, Joachim; Norström, Albert V.; Plieninger, Tobias; Cord, Anna F.
      Environmental Research Letters 2019; 14(12): Art. 124083
      Environmental Research Letters Letter • The following article is OPEN ACCESS Measuring ecosystem multifunctionality across scales Lisanne Hölting1,7 , Sander Jacobs2, María R Felipe-Lucia1,3, Joachim Maes4, Albert V Norström5, Tobias Plieninger6 and Anna F Cord1 Published 19 December 2019 • © 2019 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd Environmental Research Letters, Volume 14, Number 12 Download Article PDF DownloadArticle ePub References Download PDF Download ePub 865 Total downloads Turn on MathJax Share this article Share this content via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Mendeley Hide article information Author e-mails lisanne.hoelting@ufz.de Author affiliations 1 UFZ—Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Computational Landscape Ecology, Permoserstraße 15, D-04318 Leipzig, Germany 2 Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), Havenlaan 88 bus 73, D-1000 Brussel, Belgium 3 German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Deutscher Platz 5E, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany 4 European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Via E. Fermi, 2749, I-21027 Ispra (VA), Italy 5 Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden 6 University of Kassel, Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences and University of Göttingen, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Platz der Göttinger Sieben 5, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany 7 Author to whom any correspondence should be addressed. ORCID iDs Lisanne Hölting https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0867-7828 Sander Jacobs https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4674-4817 María R Felipe-Lucia https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1915-8169 Joachim Maes https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8272-1607 Albert V Norström https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0706-9233 Tobias Plieninger https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1478-2587 Anna F Cord https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3183-8482 Dates Received 21 June 2019 Accepted 28 November 2019 Accepted Manuscript online 28 November 2019 Published 19 December 2019 Check for updates using Crossmark Peer review information Method: Single-blind Revisions: 2 Screened for originality? Yes Citation Lisanne Hölting et al 2019 Environ. Res. Lett. 14 124083 Create citation alert DOI https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab5ccb Buy this article in print Journal RSS feed Sign up for new issue notifications Abstract Multifunctionality refers to the capacity of an area to supply multiple ecosystem functions or services. While many conceptual and methodological advances have focused on defining and quantifying multifunctionality, the challenge of dealing with cross-scale dynamics of multifunctionality remains open. This study proposes a new way of measuring multifunctionality across spatial scales, illustrated with a European-wide dataset of 18 ecosystem services. Our assessment captures not only the diversity of ecosystem services supplied within each municipality (alpha-multifunctionality), but also the unique contribution of each municipality to the regional ecosystem service diversity (beta-multifunctionality). This cross-scale analysis helps better understanding the spatial distribution of ecosystem services, which is required to design management and policies at the right scale. Our analysis shows that alpha-multifunctionality follows a latitudinal gradient across Europe and strongly decreases towards the city centers of metropolitan areas. By relating alpha- and beta-multifunctionality to land use intensity, we show that low-intensity management systems support higher ecosystem multifunctionality across Europe. Municipalities of low alpha-multifunctionality often contribute significantly to regional multifunctionality, by providing ecosystem services of a specific value to the region. Our method to measure both alpha- and beta-multifunctionality thus provides a new way to inform reconciliation of competing land uses when maximizing alpha-multifunctionality is not reasonable.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Mating avoidance in female olive baboons (Papio anubis) infected by Treponema pallidum 

      Paciência, F. M. D.; Rushmore, J.; Chuma, I. S.; Lipende, I. F.; Caillaud, D.; Knauf, S.; Zinner, D.
      Science Advances 2019; 5(12): Art. eaaw9724
      Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are ubiquitous within wild animal populations, yet it remains largely unknown whether animals evolved behavioral avoidance mechanisms in response to STI acquisition. We investigated the mating behavior of a wild population of olive baboons (Papio anubis) infected by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. This pathogen causes highly conspicuous genital ulcerations in males and females, which signal infectious individuals. We analyzed data on 876 mating attempts and associated acceptance or rejection responses in a group of about 170 baboons. Our findings indicate that females are more likely to avoid copulation if either the mating partner or females themselves have ulcerated genitals. We suggest that this outcome is linked to the overall higher choosiness and infection-risk susceptibility typically exhibited by females. Our results show that selection pressures imposed by pathogens induce individual behavioral modifications, leading to altered mate choice and could reduce promiscuity in a wild nonhuman primate population.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Root system size response of bzh semi-dwarf oilseed rape hybrids to different nitrogen levels in the field 

      Schierholt, Antje; Tietz, Tina; Bienert, Gerd Patrick; Gertz, Andreas; Miersch, Sebastian; Becker, Heiko C
      Annals of Botany 2018; 124(6) p.891-901
      BACKGROUND AND AIMS: In oilseed rape (Brassica napus) semi-dwarf hybrid varieties from crosses between bzh dwarf and normal-type lines are of increasing interest. They have improved nitrogen (N) uptake, N-utilization and N-use efficiency compared to normal types. This study aimed to elucidate whether these N-related effects can be explained by the bzh shoot growth-type alone or also by differences in root traits. METHODS: Root system size was measured using root electrical capacitance (EC) in field trials with two N levels in two sets of genotypes segregating for the bzh-locus: (1) 108 doubled haploid (DH) test hybrids in two seasons, 2010-2012, and (2) 16 near-isogenic hybrids in the 2016-17 season. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) for root EC were estimated in DH test hybrids. Seedling root architecture parameters were monitored in vitro. KEY RESULTS: In vitro root growth showed a higher root: shoot ratio in bzh semi-dwarf hybrids. Root EC in field trials was higher at high N supply than at zero N fertilization. In most trials semi-dwarf hybrids had higher EC than normal-type hybrids, but they reduced root EC in response to N limitation more than normal types. Root EC was more heritable at the end of flowering (h2 = 0.73) than at the beginning of flowering (h2 = 0.36) in near-isogenic hybrids and had a lower heritability in trials of DH test hybrids (h2 = 0.27). A QTL for root EC in the genomic region of the bzh-locus on linkage group A06 was significant at zero N fertilization. CONCLUSIONS: Root EC proved to be a meaningful method in oilseed rape breeding programmes targeting root system size. The greater reduction of semi-dwarf root EC compared to the normal type under low N supply with simultaneous increase in N efficiency implies that in roots it is not a question of 'the more the merrier' and that the bzh root system reacts highly economically when N is scarce.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Calm Before the Storm: A Glimpse into the Secondary Metabolism of Aspergillus welwitschiae, the Etiologic Agent of the Sisal Bole Rot 

      Quintanilha-Peixoto, Gabriel; Torres, Rosimére Oliveira; Alves Reis, Isabella Mary; Alves Santos de Oliveira, Thiago; Bortolini, Dener Eduardo; Alves Duarte, Elizabeth Amélia; Ariston de Carvalho Azevedo, Vasco; Brenig, Bertram; Guimarães Rocha Aguiar, Eric Roberto; Soares, Ana Cristina Fermino; et al.
      Góes-Neto, AristótelesBranco, Alexsandro
      Toxins 2019; 11(11): Art. 631
      Aspergillus welwitschiae is a species of the Nigri section of the genus Aspergillus. In nature, it is usually a saprotroph, decomposing plant material. However, it causes the bole rot disease of Agave sisalana (sisal), a plant species used for the extraction of hard natural fibers, causing great economic loss to this culture. In this study, we isolated and sequenced one genome of A. welwitschiae (isolate CCMB 674 (Collection of Cultures of Microorganisms of Bahia)) from the stem tissues of sisal and performed in silico and wet lab experimental strategies to describe its ability to produce mycotoxins. CCMB 674 possesses 64 secondary metabolite gene clusters (SMGCs) and, under normal conditions, it produces secondary metabolism compounds that could disturb the cellular cycle of sisal or induce abnormalities in plant growth, such as malformin C. This isolate also produces a pigment that might explain the characteristic red color of the affected tissues. Additionally, this isolate is defective for the production of fumonisin B1, and, despite bearing the full cluster for the synthesis of this compound, it did not produce ochratoxin A. Altogether, these results provide new information on possible strategies used by the fungi during the sisal bole rot, helping to better understand this disease and how to control it.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Nitrogen fertilization modifies organic transformations and coatings on soil biogeochemical interfaces through microbial polysaccharides synthesis 

      Huang, Xizhi; Guggenberger, Georg; Kuzyakov, Yakov; Shibistova, Olga; Ge, Tida; Li, Yiwei; Liu, Bifeng; Wu, Jinshui
      Scientific Reports 2019; 9(1) p.1-10
      The soil-water interfaces (SWI) in soil pores are hotspots for organic matter (OM) transformation. However, due to the heterogeneous and opaque nature of soil microenvironment, direct and continuous tracing of interfacial reactions, such as OM transformations and formation of organo-mineral associations, are rare. To investigate these processes, a new soil microarray technology (SoilChips) was developed and used. Homogeneous 800-μm-diameter SoilChips were constructed by depositing a dispersed Oxisol A horizon suspension on a patterned glass. Dissolved organic matter from the original soil was added on the SoilChips to mimic SWI processes. The effects of ammonium fertilization (90 mg N kg-1 soil) on chemical composition of SWIs were evaluated via X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Over 21 days, ammonium addition increased OM coatings at SWIs and modified the OM chemical structure with more alcoholic- and carboxylic-C compared to the unfertilized control. Molecular modeling of OM composition at SWIs showed that N fertilization mainly facilitated the microbial production of glucans. We demonstrated that N availability modifies the specific OM molecular processing and its immobilization on SWIs, thereby providing a direct insight into biogeochemical transformation of OM at micro-scale.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Status of accuracy in remotely sensed and in-situ agricultural water productivity estimates: A review 

      Blatchford, Megan L.; Mannaerts, Chris M.; Zeng, Yijian; Nouri, Hamideh; Karimi, Poolad
      Remote Sensing of Environment 2019; 234: Art. 111413
      The scarcity of water and the growing global food demand has fevered the debate on how to increase agricultural production without further depleting water resources. Crop water productivity (CWP) is a performance indicator to monitor and evaluate water use efficiency in agriculture. Often in remote sensing datasets of CWP and its components, i.e. crop yield or above ground biomass production (AGBP) and evapotranspiration (ETa), the end-users and developers are different actors. The accuracy of the datasets should therefore be clear to both users and developers. We assess the accuracy of remotely sensed CWP against the accuracy of estimated in-situ CWP. First, the accuracy of CWP based on in-situ methods, which are assumed to be the user's benchmark for CWP accuracy, is reviewed. Then, the accuracy of current remote sensing products is described to determine if the accuracy benchmark, as set by in-situ methods, can be met with current algorithms. The percentage error of CWP from in-situ methods ranges from 7% to 67%, depending on method and scale. The error of CWP from remote sensing ranges from 7% to 22%, based on the highest reported performing remote sensing products. However, when considering the entire breadth of reported crop yield and ETa accuracy, the achievable errors propagate to CWP ranges of 74% to 108%. Although the remote sensing CWP appears comparable to the accuracy of in-situ methods in many cases, users should determine whether it is suitable for their specific application of CWP.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Genetic Diversity of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense Causing Panama Wilt of Banana in the Philippines 

      Aguilar-Hawod, Kristle Grace I.; de la Cueva, Fe M.; Cumagun, Christian Joseph R.
      Pathogens 2020; 9(1): Art. 32
      Panama wilt, caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc) is considered one of the most devastating banana diseases in recorded history. The disease threatens the banana industry due to Tropical Race 4 (TR4) infecting the Cavendish cultivar. Forty-two of the 45 representative isolates from Luzon were pathogenic, based on leaf symptom index and vascular discoloration rating. Accurate, fast and reliable identification are pre-requisites for effective management considering there are yet no proven effective chemicals to control the disease, thus the confirmation by a PCR-based diagnostic tool is essential. Using race-specific primers, FocTr4-F/FocTr4-R and Foc-1/Foc-2, the absence of TR4 in Luzon has been confirmed, however, the occurrence of Race 4 has been reported, which should also be taken in consideration as the latter can also cause severe damage under favorable conditions. Furthermore, to examine genetic diversity of Foc in bananas, 55 of the 164 isolates collected from Regions I, II, III, IV and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) were analyzed by fingerprinting techniques using M13, ERIC and REP primers. Twenty-two reference isolates from Mindanao were also analyzed using the same primers. Foc isolates were differentiated into two clades at 25% similarity level, classifying all Mindanao isolates to clade A. Consistently high genetic variation was obtained from Luzon isolates using M13, an arbitrarily primed fingerprinting technique and repetitive elements, REP and ERIC-PCR, while low genetic variation was obtained from Mindanao isolates. ERIC-PCR was the most informative and predictive fingerprinting method as the TR4 isolates from Mindanao were grouped together. No grouping of Foc isolates was observed with respect to geographical origin, except isolates from Mindanao. In addition, grouping of Foc4 is also regardless of host variety in all analyses conducted. Overall, high genetic variability was recorded in Foc Philippine population for the three primers used, which might render host resistance vulnerable.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Preferences for fresh tomatoes with a focus on young consumers in Germany – Choice-experiment and latent class analysis 

      Jürkenbeck, K.; Meyerding, S.G.H.
      European Journal of Horticultural Science 2019; 84(6) p.325-331
      Knowledge about different types of tomato consumers and what consumers are looking for when purchasing tomatoes is scarce. This study focuses on fresh market tomatoes and their consumers, with the objective to identify homogenous target groups of tomato consumers. The purchase situation was simulated through a choice-experiment, and the data was analysed using latent class analysis. The sample consisted of 337 consumers from Germany, and the survey was conducted in April and May 2017. Most of the participants (65.2%) were in the age class from 20 to 29 years. Female consumers accounted for 65% of the sample. Based on the results of the latent class analysis, there were three different types of consumers, with a membership probability of 91.3%. For each class, the preferred attributes, the price preferences and the favoured food-related lifestyles were estimated. We identified three different types of tomato consumers, namely price-sensitive, extrinsic-sensitive and intrinsic-sensitive consumers. Each class differently valued the tomato attributes. The presented information helps growers, breeders as well as marketing practitioners to gain insights into the attributes consumers are looking for when purchasing tomatoes.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Influence of Highland and production-oriented cattle breeds on pasture vegetation: A pairwise assessment across broad environmental gradients 

      Pauler, Caren M.; Isselstein, Johannes; Braunbeck, Thomas; Schneider, Manuel K.
      Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 2019; 284: Art. 106585
      Highland cattle are lighter, slower-growing and less demanding on forage than most production-oriented cattle breeds, which may affect vegetation composition. This study aimed at identifying the importance of breed-dependent impact on the composition of pasture vegetation in comparison to well-investigated factors such as site properties and grazing management. Vegetation was investigated in 50 paired pastures at 25 locations ranging from Swiss mountain areas to lowlands in southern Germany. Pastures in a pair had been grazed by either Highland cattle or a more production-oriented cattle breed for at least 5 years. Plant species composition was assessed on 150 subplots, three per pasture in areas representing different grazing intensities. Generalized linear mixed-effects models, (partial) constrained correspondence analysis and structural equation models were used for data analysis. Despite similar site conditions between the paired pastures at each location, plants on pastures of Highland cattle showed significantly lower indicator values for grazing and trampling tolerance. Both, grazing and trampling were strongly connected and had a common negative effect on plant species diversity. Moreover, Highland cattle had a direct positive influence on diversity, likely due to reduced woody plant species cover and a higher cover of epizoochoric species. This resulted in significantly higher plant species richness (alpha and gamma) on pastures of Highland cattle than those of production-oriented breeds. The observed differences in plant species richness between pastures of different grazing breeds increased with duration of adaptation, i.e. the time a pasture was grazed by a certain breed. The study demonstrates a clear impact of cattle breed on vegetation, which is consistent with the phenotypical differences of the animals. Largely overlooked, cattle breed may explain some of the frequently contrasting responses of vegetation to grazing. The findings have important implications for management decisions and breeding endeavours which go beyond mere productivity objectives. They highlight the potential of low-production Highland cattle to sustain and promote ecosystem services on species-rich, semi-natural grasslands.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Multi-temporal RapidEye Tasselled Cap data for land cover classification 

      Raab, Christoph; Tonn, B.; Meißner, M.; Balkenhol, N.; Isselstein, J.
      European Journal of Remote Sensing 2019; 52(1) p.653-666
      Land cover mapping can be seen as a key element to understand the spatial distribution of habitats and thus to sustainable management of natural resources. Multi-temporal remote sensing data are a valuable data source for land cover mapping. However, the increased amount of data requires effective machine learning algorithms and data compression approaches. In this study, the Random Forest and C 5.0 classification algorithms were applied to (1) a multi-temporal Tasselled-Cap-transformed, (2) top of atmosphere and (3) surface reflectance RapidEye time-series. The overall accuracies ranged from 91.44% to 91.80%, with only minor differences between algorithms and datasets. The McNemar test showed, however, significant differences between the Tasselled-Cap-transformed and untransformed mapping results in most cases. The temporal profiles for the Tasselled-Cap-transformed RapidEye data indicated a good separability between considered classes. The phenological profiles of vegetated surfaces followed a typical green-up curve for the Greenness Tasselled-Cap-index. A permutation-based variable importance measure indicated that late autumn should be considered as most important phenological phase contributing to the classification model performance. The results suggested that the RapidEye Tasselled Cap Transformation, which was designed for agricultural applications, can be an effective data compression tool, suitable to map heterogeneous landscapes with no measurable negative impact on classification accuracy.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Reviews and syntheses: Agropedogenesis - humankind as the sixth soil-forming factor and attractors of agricultural soil degradation 

      Kuzyakov, Yakov; Zamanian, Kazem
      Biogeosciences 2019; 16(24) p.4783-4803
      Back to top Agricultural land covers 5.1×109 ha (ca. 50 % of potentially suitable land area), and agriculture has immense effects on soil formation and degradation. Although we have an advanced mechanistic understanding of individual degradation processes of soils under agricultural use, general concepts of agropedogenesis are absent. A unifying theory of soil development under agricultural practices, of agropedogenesis, is urgently needed. We introduce a theory of anthropedogenesis – soil development under the main factor “humankind” – the sixth factor of soil formation, and deepen it to encompass agropedogenesis as the most important direction of anthropedogenesis. The developed theory of agropedogenesis consists of (1) broadening the classical concept of factors→processes→properties→functions along with their feedbacks to the processes, (2) a new concept of attractors of soil degradation, (3) selection and analysis of master soil properties, (4) analysis of phase diagrams of master soil properties to identify thresholds and stages of soil degradation, and, finally, (5) a definition of the multidimensional attractor space of agropedogenesis. The main feature of anthropedogenesis is the narrowing of soil development to only one function (e.g. crop production for agropedogenesis), and this function is becoming the main soil-forming factor. The focus on only one function and the disregard of other functions inevitably lead to soil degradation. We show that the factor humankind dominates over the effects of the five natural soil-forming factors and that agropedogenesis is therefore much faster than natural soil formation. The direction of agropedogenesis is largely opposite to that of natural soil development and is thus usually associated with soil degradation. In contrast to natural pedogenesis leading to divergence of soil properties, agropedogenesis leads to their convergence because of the efforts to optimize conditions for crop production. Agricultural practices lead soil development toward a quasi-steady state with a predefined range of measured properties – attractors (an attractor is a minimal or maximal value of a soil property toward which the property will develop via long-term intensive agricultural use from any natural state). Based on phase diagrams and expert knowledge, we define a set of “master properties” (bulk density and macroaggregates, soil organic matter content, C:N ratio, pH and electrical conductivity – EC, microbial biomass and basal respiration) as well as soil depth (A and B horizons). These master properties are especially sensitive to land use and determine the other properties during agropedogenesis. Phase diagrams of master soil properties help identify thresholds and stages of soil degradation, each of which is characterized by one dominating process. Combining individual attractors in a multidimensional attractor space enables predicting the trajectory and the final state of agrogenic soil development and developing measures to combat soil degradation. In conclusion, the suggested new theory of anthro- and agropedogenesis is a prerequisite for merging various degradation processes into a general view and for understanding the functions of humankind not only as the sixth soil-forming factor but also as an ecosystem engineer optimizing its environment to fulfil a few desired functions.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Construction and Use of a Simple Index of Urbanisation in the Rural–Urban Interface of Bangalore, India 

      Hoffmann, Ellen; Jose, Monish; Nölke, Nils; Möckel, Thomas
      Sustainability 2017; 9(11): Art. 2146
      Urbanisation is a global trend rapidly transforming the biophysical and socioeconomic structures of metropolitan areas. To better understand (and perhaps control) these processes, more interdisciplinary research must be dedicated to the rural–urban interface. This also calls for a common reference system describing intermediate stages along a rural–urban gradient. The present paper constructs a simple index of urbanisation for villages in the Greater Bangalore Area, using GIS analysis of satellite images, and combining basic measures of building density and distance. The correlation of the two parameters and discontinuities in the frequency distribution of the combined index indicate highly dynamic stages of transformation, spatially clustered in the rural–urban interface. This analysis is substantiated by a qualitative assessment of village morphologies. The index presented here serves as a starting point in a large, coordinated study of rural–urban transitions. It was used to stratify villages for random sampling in order to perform a representative socioeconomic household survey, along with agricultural experiments and environmental assessments in various subsamples. Later on, it will also provide a matrix against which the results can be aligned and evaluated. In this process, the measures and classification systems themselves can be further refined and elaborated.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Physiological adaptations of ruminants and their potential relevance for production systems 

      Clauss, Marcus; Hummel, Jürgen
      Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia 2017; 46(7) p.606-613
      Herbivores face the dilemma that the level of feed intake is negatively related to factors that determine digestive efficiency, such as thoroughness of ingesta comminution by chewing, and retention of digesta in the digestive tract. Ruminants have evolved particular adaptations to solve this dilemma. Most ruminants share the characteristic of “digesta washing”: fluid moves through their digestive tract faster than particles, thus effectively washing very fine particles, such as bacteria, out of the digesta plug. As the forestomach is followed by auto-enzymatic digestion, this allows a continuous, increased harvest of microbes from the forestomach. True rumination only evolved twice, in the camelids and the true ruminants. These both evolved a density-dependent sorting mechanism based on physical separation of the digesta by the process of flotation and sedimentation, ensuring that the process of rumination is applied to large particles. Differences in this sorting mechanism might facilitate a faster digesta processing in true ruminants as compared with camelids. The hallmark of ruminant digestive anatomy is the omasum, in which the fluid required for both digesta washing and the reticular separation mechanism is re-absorbed. In ruminants of the tribe Bovini, the omasum has reached the largest size and this group has a particularly great forestomach fluid throughput. Increasing the degree of digesta washing even more should increase microbial harvest from the forestomach and reduce the susceptibility to acidosis. At the same time, it should result in a metabolic state of the microbiome more tuned towards biomass production and less towards methanogenesis. Enhancing the forestomach fluid throughput by selective breeding could represent a promising way to further advance the productivity of the ruminant digestive tract.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Similar factors underlie tree abundance in forests in native and alien ranges 

      Sande, Masha T.; Bruelheide, Helge; Dawson, Wayne; Dengler, Jürgen; Essl, Franz; Field, Richard; Haider, Sylvia; Kleunen, Mark; Kreft, Holger; Pagel, Joern; et al.
      Pergl, JanPurschke, OliverPyšek, PetrWeigelt, PatrickWinter, MartenAttorre, FabioAubin, IsabelleBergmeier, ErwinChytrý, MilanDainese, MatteoDe Sanctis, MicheleFagundez, JaimeGolub, ValentinGuerin, Greg R.Gutiérrez, Alvaro G.Jandt, UteJansen, FlorianJiménez‐Alfaro, BorjaKattge, JensKearsley, ElizabethKlotz, StefanKramer, KoenMoretti, MarcoNiinemets, ÜloPeet, Robert K.Penuelas, JosepPetřík, PetrReich, Peter B.Sandel, BrodySchmidt, MarcoSibikova, MariaViolle, CyrilleWhitfeld, Timothy J. S.Wohlgemuth, ThomasKnight, Tiffany M.
      Global Ecology and Biogeography p.1-14
      Aim: Alien plant species can cause severe ecological and economic problems, and therefore attract a lot of research interest in biogeography and related fields. To identify potential future invasive species, we need to better understand the mechanisms underlying the abundances of invasive tree species in their new ranges, and whether these mechanisms differ between their native and alien ranges. Here, we test two hypotheses: that greater relative abundance is promoted by (a) functional difference from locally co-occurring trees, and (b) higher values than locally co-occurring trees for traits linked to competitive ability. Location: Global. Time period: Recent. Major taxa studied: Trees. Methods: We combined three global plant databases: sPlot vegetation-plot database, TRY plant trait database and Global Naturalized Alien Flora (GloNAF) database. We used a hierarchical Bayesian linear regression model to assess the factors associated with variation in local abundance, and how these relationships vary between native and alien ranges and depend on species’ traits. Results: In both ranges, species reach highest abundance if they are functionally similar to co-occurring species, yet are taller and have higher seed mass and wood density than co-occurring species.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Interdigital Hyperplasia in Holstein Cattle Is Associated With a Missense Mutation in the Signal Peptide Region of the Tyrosine-Protein Kinase Transmembrane Receptor Gene 

      Zhang, Xuying; Swalve, Hermann H.; Pijl, René; Rosner, Frank; Wensch-Dorendorf, Monika; Brenig, Bertram
      Frontiers in Genetics 2019; 10: Art. 1157
      Bovine interdigital hyperplasia (IH) is a typical disease of the foot with varying prevalence depending on age, breed, and environmental factors resulting in different degrees of lameness. In studies based on assessments of claw health status at time of hoof trimming and applying genetic-statistical models to analyze this data, IH consistently exhibits high estimates of heritability in the range of 0.30-0.40. Although some studies have identified chromosomal regions that could possibly harbor causative genes, a clear identification of molecular causes for IH is lacking. While analyzing the large database of claw health status as documented at time of hoof trimming, we identified one herd with extreme prevalence of IH of > 50% of affected Holstein dairy cows. This herd subsequently was chosen as the object of a detailed study. A total of n = 91 cows was assessed and revealed a prevalence of 59.3% and 38.5% for IH cases, documented as "one-sided" or "two-sided", respectively. Cows were genotyped using the BovineSNP50 BeadChip. A genome wide association study revealed two significantly associated chromosomal positions (-log10P = 5.57) on bovine chromosome 8 (BTA8) located in intron 5 and downstream of the receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 2 (ROR2) gene. As ROR2 plays a key role in ossification of the distal limbs and is associated with brachydactylies in humans, it was a reasonable candidate for IH. A comparative sequencing of the ROR2 gene between cases and controls revealed two missense variants in exon 1 (NC_037335.1:g.85,905,534T > A, ARS-UCD1.2) and exon 9 (NC_037335.1:g.86,140,379A > G, ARS-UCD1.2), respectively. Genotyping of both variants in the cohort of 91 cattle showed that the exon 1 variant (rs377953295) remained significantly associated with IH (p < 0.0001) as a risk factor of the disease. This variant resulted in an amino acid exchange (ENSBTAP00000053765.2:p.Trp9Arg) in the N-terminal region of the ROR2 signal peptide which is necessary for proper topology of the polypeptide during translocation. Quantification of ROR2 mRNA and ROR2 protein showed that the variant resulted in a significant suppression of ROR2 expression in homozygous affected compared to wild type and carrier cows.
      View Document Abstract
    • Journal Article

      Fattening Pig Farmers’ Intention to Participate in Animal Welfare Programs 

      Schukat; Kuhlmann; Heise
      Animals 2019; 9(12): Art. 1042
      Farmers are considered a highly important stakeholder group for the successful implementation of higher farm animal welfare (FAW) standards, but so far little is known about their attitudes and the determinants of their participation in programs that request higher FAW standards. To close this research gap, fattening pig farmers in Germany were questioned via a large-scale online survey in 2018 (n = 239). Based on the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology, a partial least squares path modeling (PLS) was run. Results show that the expected performance as well as the expected costs associated with the Initiative Animal Welfare (IAW) substantially influence fattening pig farmers' behavioral intention to participate in the IAW. Furthermore, the decision is influenced by social determinants and facilitating conditions such as deadweight effects. Farmers' hedonic motivation, fair remuneration and previous experiences with the establishment of higher FAW standards can influence their intention to take part in the IAW. In addition, farmers' trust in the program is a major determinant. There are also moderating variables such as age and work experience that influence farmers' intention to take part in the IAW. Our results have important managerial implications for the IAW and can help to design further tailor-made animal welfare programs (AWPs) that fulfill the requirements of both fattening pig farmers and the broader public not only in Germany but the European Union.
      View Document Abstract