Recent Submissions

• Journal Article

A new dataset on plant occurrences on smallislands, including species abundances andfunctional traits across different spatial scales ﻿

Biodiversity Data Journal 2020; 8 p.1-16: Art. e55275
Background We introduce a new dataset of woody plants on 60 small tropical islands located in the Raja Ampat archipelago in Indonesia. The dataset includes incidence, abundance and functional trait data for 57 species. All islands were sampled using a standardised transect and plot design providing detailed information on plant occurrences at different spatial scales ranging from the local (plot and transect scale) to the island scale. In addition, the dataset includes information on key plant functional traits linked to species dispersal, resource acquisition and competitive strategies. The dataset can be used to address ecological questions connected to the species-area relationship and community assembly processes on small islands and in isolated habitats. New information The dataset yields detailed information on plant community structure and links incidence, abundance and functional trait data at different spatial scales. Furthermore, this is the first plant-island dataset for the Raja Ampat archipelago, a remote and poorly studied region, and provides important new information on species occurrences.
• Journal Article

De novo sequencing, assembly and functional annotation of Armillaria borealis genome ﻿

BMC Genomics. 2020 Sep 10;21(Suppl 7):534
Abstract Background Massive forest decline has been observed almost everywhere as a result of negative anthropogenic and climatic effects, which can interact with pests, fungi and other phytopathogens and aggravate their effects. Climatic changes can weaken trees and make fungi, such as Armillaria more destructive. Armillaria borealis (Marxm. & Korhonen) is a fungus from the Physalacriaceae family (Basidiomycota) widely distributed in Eurasia, including Siberia and the Far East. Species from this genus cause the root white rot disease that weakens and often kills woody plants. However, little is known about ecological behavior and genetics of A. borealis. According to field research data, A. borealis is less pathogenic than A. ostoyae, and its aggressive behavior is quite rare. Mainly A. borealis behaves as a secondary pathogen killing trees already weakened by other factors. However, changing environment might cause unpredictable effects in fungus behavior. Results The de novo genome assembly and annotation were performed for the A. borealis species for the first time and presented in this study. The A. borealis genome assembly contained ~ 68 Mbp and was comparable with ~ 60 and ~ 79.5 Mbp for the A. ostoyae and A. mellea genomes, respectively. The N50 for contigs equaled 50,544 bp. Functional annotation analysis revealed 21,969 protein coding genes and provided data for further comparative analysis. Repetitive sequences were also identified. The main focus for further study and comparative analysis will be on the enzymes and regulatory factors associated with pathogenicity. Conclusions Pathogenic fungi such as Armillaria are currently one of the main problems in forest conservation. A comprehensive study of these species and their pathogenicity is of great importance and needs good genomic resources. The assembled genome of A. borealis presented in this study is of sufficiently good quality for further detailed comparative study on the composition of enzymes in other Armillaria species. There is also a fundamental problem with the identification and classification of species of the Armillaria genus, where the study of repetitive sequences in the genomes of basidiomycetes and their comparative analysis will help us identify more accurately taxonomy of these species and reveal their evolutionary relationships.
• Journal Article

Plasma Treatment of Polypropylene-Based Wood–Plastic Composites (WPC): Influences of Working Gas ﻿

Polymers 2020; 12(9) p.1-15: Art. 1933
In this study, a polypropylene (PP)-based wood–plastic composite with maleic anhydride-grafted polypropylene (MAPP) as a coupling agent and a wood content of 60% was extruded and specimens were injection molded. The samples were plasma treated utilizing a dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) setup with three different working gases: Ar/O$_2$ (90%/10%), Ar/N$_2$ (90%/10%), and synthetic air. This process aims to improve the coating and gluing properties of the otherwise challenging apolar surface of PP based wood–plastic composites (WPC). Chemical analysis with X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) showed the formation of oxygen-based functional groups on the surface, independently from the working gas used for the treatment. Laser scanning microscopy (LSM) examined the surface roughness and revealed that the two argon-containing working gases roughened the surface more than synthetic air. However, the contact angle for water was reduced significantly after treatment, revealing measurement artifacts for water and diiodomethane due to the severe changes in surface morphology. The adhesion of acrylic dispersion coating was significantly increased, resulting in a pull-off strength of approximately 4 N/mm$^2$, and cross-cut tests assigned the best adhesion class (0), on a scale from 0 to 5, after plasma treatment with any working gas.
• Journal Article

Plant species richness increases with light availability, but not variability, in temperate forests understorey ﻿

BMC Ecology. 2020 Jul 29;20(1):43
Abstract Background Temperate forest understorey vegetation poses an excellent study system to investigate whether increases in resource availability lead to an increase in plant species richness. Most sunlight is absorbed by the species-poor tree canopy, making the much more species-rich understorey species inhabit a severely resource-limited habitat. Additionally, the heterogeneity of light availability, resulting from management-moderated tree composition and age structure, may contribute to species coexistence. One would therefore expect that the diversity in the herb layer correlates positively with either the overall light availability, or the light heterogeneity, depending on whether resource availability or heterogeneity are more important drivers of diversity. To test this idea, we assessed variability of light conditions in 75 forest plots across three ecoregions with four different methods. Results We correlated these data with vegetation relevés and found light availability to be strongly positively correlated with understorey plant species richness, as well as with understorey cover. Light variability (assessed with two approaches) within plots was positively correlated with transmittance, but did not improve the relationship further, suggesting that the main driver of species richness in this system is the overall resource availability. Two of the three beech-dominated regions exhibited near-identical effects of light transmittance, while the third, featuring pine alongside beech and thus with the longest gradient of transmittance and lowest species richness, displayed a weaker light response. Conclusions While site conditions are certainly responsible for the trees selected by foresters, for the resulting forest structure, and for the differences in plant species pools, our results suggest that light transmittance is a strong mediating factor of understorey plant species richness.
• Journal Article

Mating System in a Native Norway Spruce (Picea abies [L.] KARST.) Stand-Relatedness and Effective Pollen Population Size Show an Association with the Germination Percentage of Single Tree Progenies ﻿

Diversity 2020; 12(7) p.1-18: Art. 266
Norway spruce differs little in neutral genetic markers among populations and provenances often reported, but in terms of putative adaptive traits and their candidate genes, some clear differences have been observed. This has previously been shown for crown morphotypes. Stands with mostly narrow crown shapes are adapted to high elevation conditions, but these stands are scattered, and the forest area is often occupied by planted stands with predominantly broad crowned morphotypes. This raises questions on whether this differentiation can remain despite gene flow, and on the level of gene flow between natural and planted stands growing in close neighbourhood. The locally adapted stands are a valuable seed source, the progeny of which is expected to have high genetic quality and germination ability. The presented case study is useful for spruce plantation by demonstrating evaluation of these expectations. Immigrant pollen and seeds from planted trees could be maladaptive and may alter the genetic composition of the progeny. This motivated us to study single tree progenies in a locally adapted stand with narrow crowned trees in a partial mast year at nuclear genomic simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. Spruce is a typical open-pollinated conifer tree species with very low selfing rates, which were also observed in our study (s = 0.3–2.1%) and could be explained by efficient cross-pollination and postzygotic early embryo abortion, common in conifers. The estimated high amount of immigrant pollen found in the pooled seed lot (70.2–91.5%) is likely to influence the genetic composition of the seedlings. Notably, for individual mother trees located in the centre of the stand, up to 50% of the pollen was characterised as local. Seeds from these trees are therefore considered to retain most of the adaptive variance of the stand. Germination percentage varied greatly between half-sib families (3.6–61.9%) and was negatively correlated with relatedness and positively with effective pollen population size of the respective families. As pollen mostly originated from outside the stand and no family structures in the stand itself were found, germination differences can likely be explained by diversity differences in the individual pollen cloud.
• Journal Article

Towards Tree Green Crown Volume: A Methodological Approach Using Terrestrial Laser Scanning ﻿

Remote Sensing 2020; 12(11) p.1-12: Art. 1841
Crown volume is a tree attribute relevant in a number of contexts, including photosynthesis and matter production, storm resistance, shadowing of lower layers, habitat for various taxa. While commonly the total crown volume is being determined, for example by wrapping a convex hull around the crown, we present here a methodological approach towards assessing the tree green crown volume (TGCVol), the crown volume with a high density of foliage, which we derive by terrestrial laser scanning in a case study of solitary urban trees. Using the RGB information, we removed the hits on stem and branches within the tree crown and used the remaining leaf hits to determine TGCVol from k-means clustering and convex hulls for the resulting green 3D clusters. We derived a tree green crown volume index (TGCVI) relating the green crown volume to the total crown volume. This TGCVI is a measure of how much a crown is “filled with green” and scale-dependent (a function of specifications of the k-means clustering). Our study is a step towards a standardized assessment of tree green crown volume. We do also address a number of remaining methodological challenges.
• Journal Article

De novo transcriptome assembly of cold stressed clones of the hexaploid Sequoia sempervirens (D. Don) Endl. ﻿

Scientific Data 2020; 7(1) p.1-8: Art. 239
Coast redwood is a very important endemic conifer timber species in Southern Oregon and Northern California in the USA. Due to its good wood properties and fast growth rate it can be considered as a prospective timber species also in other countries with similar or changing toward similar climatic conditions due to global climate warming, such as Germany. In general, it is frost sensitive and suffers from freezing temperatures. To study genetic mechanisms of frost resistance in this species and to select the most frost tolerant trees we tested 17 clones in climate control chamber experiments and generated two de novo assemblies of the coast redwood transcriptome from a pooled RNA sample using Trinity and CLC Genomic Workbench software, respectively. The hexaploid nature of the coast redwood genome makes it very challenging to successfully assemble and annotate the coast redwood transcriptome. The de novo transcriptome assembly generated by Trinity and CLC considering only reads with a minimum length of 180 bp and contigs no less than 200 bp long resulted in 634,772 and 788,464 unigenes (unique contigs), respectively.
• Journal Article

Initial Survival and Development of Planted European Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and Small-Leaved Lime (Tilia cordata Mill.) Seedlings Competing with Black Cherry (Prunus serotina Ehrh.) ﻿

Plants 2020; 9(6) p.1-17: Art. 677
Black cherry (Prunus serotina Ehrh.) is considered one of the most invasive tree species in central Europe and causes problems for both nature conservation and silviculture. Besides mechanical control treatments, a suggested control method to prevent its ongoing spread is to underplant shade-tolerant native tree species. Therefore, we combined two mechanical treatments, with underplanting of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) or small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata Mill.) on fenced and unfenced plots. After the first growing season, survival rates were evaluated, and selected seedlings were destructively harvested to analyze their growth performance and leaf morphology in association with the different light regimes resulting from mechanical treatments Survival rates for both seedlings were very high (>95%). Survival rates were higher on fenced plots than on unfenced plots, most likely as result of browsing. The mortality of F. sylvatica decreased with increasing light availability on fenced plots. The mortality of T. cordata did not change along the light gradient. After one vegetation period no differences with respect to biomass allocation could be detected along the light gradient. However, the specific leaf areas of both species responded similarly, decreasing with increasing light availability. In summary, both species were able to establish and survive in the dense P. serotina understory and might have the potential to outcompete the invasive alien species in the long run.
• Journal Article

Target‐oriented habitat and wildlife management: estimating forage quantity and quality of semi‐natural grasslands with Sentinel‐1 and Sentinel‐2 data ﻿

Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation p.1-18
Semi‐natural grasslands represent ecosystems with high biodiversity. Their conservation depends on the removal of biomass, for example, through grazing by livestock or wildlife. For this, spatially explicit information about grassland forage quantity and quality is a prerequisite for efficient management. The recent advancements of the Sentinel satellite mission offer new possibilities to support the conservation of semi‐natural grasslands. In this study, the combined use of radar (Sentinel‐1) and multispectral (Sentinel‐2) data to predict forage quantity and quality indicators of semi‐natural grassland in Germany was investigated. Field data for organic acid detergent fibre concentration (oADF ), crude protein concentration (CP ), compressed sward height (CSH ) and standing biomass dry weight (DM ) collected between 2015 and 2017 were related to remote sensing data using the random forest regression algorithm. In total, 102 optical‐ and radar‐based predictor variables were used to derive an optimized dataset, maximizing the predictive power of the respective model. High $R^2$ values were obtained for the grassland quality indicators oADF ($R^2$ = 0.79, RMSE = 2.29%) and CP ($R^2$ = 0.72, RMSE = 1.70%) using 15 and 8 predictor variables respectively. Lower R 2 values were achieved for the quantity indicators CSH ($R^2$ = 0.60, RMSE = 2.77 cm) and DM ($R^2$ = 0.45, RMSE = 90.84 g/m²). A permutation‐based variable importance measure indicated a strong contribution of simple ratio‐based optical indices to the model performance. In particular, the ratios between the narrow near‐infrared and red‐edge region were among the most important variables. The model performance for oADF , CP and CSH was only marginally increased by adding Sentinel‐1 data. For DM , no positive effect on the model performance was observed by combining Sentinel‐1 and Sentinel‐2 data. Thus, optical Sentinel‐2 data might be sufficient to accurately predict forage quality, and to some extent also quantity indicators of semi‐natural grassland.
• Journal Article

Regeneration Dynamics Following the Formation of Understory Gaps in a Slovakian Beech Virgin Forest ﻿

Forests 2020; 11(5) p.1-20: Art. 585
The frequency and size of canopy gaps largely determine light transmission to lower canopy strata, controlling structuring processes in the understory. However, quantitative data from temperate virgin forests on the structure of regeneration in gaps and its dynamics over time are scarce. We studied the structure and height growth of tree regeneration by means of sapling density, shoot length growth and cumulative biomass in 17 understory gaps (29 to 931 m2 in size) in a Slovakian beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) virgin forest, and compared the gaps with the regeneration under closed-canopy conditions. Spatial differences in regeneration structure and growth rate within a gap and in the gap periphery were analyzed for their dependence on the relative intensities of direct and diffuse radiation (high vs. low). We tested the hypotheses that (i) the density and cumulative biomass of saplings are higher in gaps than in closed-canopy patches, (ii) the position in a gap influences the density and height growth of saplings, and (iii) height growth of saplings increases with gap size. Sapling density and biomass were significantly higher in understory gaps than under closed canopy. Density of saplings was positively affected by comparatively high direct, but low diffuse radiation, resulting in pronounced spatial differences. In contrast, sapling shoot length growth was positively affected by higher levels of diffuse radiation and also depended on sapling size, while direct radiation intensity was not influential. Conclusively, in this forest, regeneration likely becomes suppressed after a short period by lateral canopy expansion in small gaps (<100 m2), resulting in a heterogeneous understory structure. In larger gaps (≥100 m2) saplings may be capable even at low plant densities to fill the gap, often forming a cohort-like regeneration layer. Thus, gaps of different sizes imprint on the resulting canopy structure in different ways, enhancing spatial heterogeneity.
• Journal Article

Precipitation is the most crucial factor determining the distribution of moso bamboo in Mainland China ﻿

Global Ecology and Conservation 2020; 22 p.1-15: Art. e00924
Moso bamboo is widespread in natural forests and is cultivated over large areas in China. This study investigated how climate controls its distribution, about which little is known. We collected moso bamboo presence-absence data from 674 sites with long-term climate data in Mainland China. Generalized additive models that included location and climate variables were used to test the effects of these predictors on the species’occurrence. We identified the best model as the one with the lowest Akaike’s Information Criterion value that contained only statistically significant predictors. We found precipitation, especially the mean (APRE) and interannual standard deviation (SDPRE) of the annual precipitation at each site, rather than temperature, to be the main factors determining the distribution of moso bamboo in Mainland China. In addition, we found that there was a significant power law relationship between the mean and interannual variance of precipitation, which made it possible to make long-term predictions. The SDPRE in climate scenarios of changes in the APRE could then be calculated using thefitted power law relationship. We simulated six climate scenarios, in which the APRE increased/decreased by 25, 50, and 75%. We used the 0.5 and 0.9 probability contour lines of model predictions to represent the suitable and core distributions, respectively, of moso bamboo under each scenario. The current core distribution of moso bamboo in Mainland China predicted by our model agreed with actual observations. Our model suggested that the middle and lower reaches of the Huaihe River Plain in eastern China should be climatically suitable for the growth of moso bamboo; it seems likely that its current absence there has resulted from intensive land use. Our model predicted that changes in APRE can strongly alter the distribution of moso bamboo. Increased APRE would expand the core distribution of moso bamboo into southern Shandong Province and over all of Chongqing and most of Guizhou Provinces, which are areas not currently in the species’core distribution. Conversely, decreased APRE would shrink the core distribution of moso bamboo to the junction of Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi, and Zhejiang Provinces. We showed that the current distribution of moso bamboo is mainly determined by annual precipitation rather than temperature. The deviations between the moso distributions predicted by the climate model and the current distribution in some plain areas might have resulted from human activities. Future changes in annual precipitation will probably change the distribution of moso bamboo considerably.
• Journal Article

Mycorrhizal Phosphorus Efficiencies and Microbial Competition Drive Root P Uptake ﻿

Frontiers in Forests and Global Change 2020; 3 p.1-15: Art. 54
Phosphorus (P) availability shows large differences among different soil types, affecting P nutrition of forest trees. Chemical binding of P to soil moieties affects partitioning of P between soil particles and solution, influencing soluble P concentrations upon which plants, their associated mycorrhizal symbionts, and microbes feed. The goal of this study was to characterize root P uptake by mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal root tips in competition with microbes in situ in the organic and mineral layer of a P-rich and a P-poor forest. We used intact soil cores (0.2 m depth) from beech (Fagus sylvatica) forests to tracing the fate of $^{33}$P in soil, plant and microbial fractions.We used the dilution of $^{33}$P in the rhizosphere of each soil layer to estimate the enrichment with new P in mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal root tips and root P uptake. In soil cores from P-rich conditions, 25 and 75% of root P uptake occurred in the organic and mineral layer, respectively, whereas in the P-poor forest, 60% occurred in the organic and 40% in the mineral layer. Mycorrhizal P efficiency, determined as enrichment of new P in mycorrhizal root tips, differed between soil layers. Root P uptake was correlated with mycorrhizal P efficiency and root tip abundance but not with root tip abundance as a single factor. This finding underpins the importance of the regulation of mycorrhizal P acquisition for root P supply. The composition of mycorrhizal assemblages differed between forests but not between soil layers. Therefore, differences in P efficiencies resulted from physiological adjustments of the symbionts. Non-mycorrhizal root tips were rare and exhibited lower enrichment with new P than mycorrhizal root tips. Their contribution to root P supply was negligible. Microbes were strong competitors for P in P-poor but not in P-rich soil. Understory roots were present in the P-rich soil but did not compete for P. Our results uncover regulation of mycorrhizal P efficiencies and highlight the complexity of biotic and abiotic factors that govern P supply to trees in forest ecosystems.
• Journal Article

Differences in Root Nitrogen Uptake Between Tropical Lowland Rainforests and Oil Palm Plantations ﻿

Frontiers in Plant Science 2020; 11 p.1-9: Art. 92
Conversion of lowland tropical rainforests to intensely fertilized agricultural land-use systems such as oil palm ($\textit{Elaeis guineensis}$) plantations leads to changes in nitrogen (N) cycling. Although soil microbial-driven N dynamics has been largely studied, the role of the plant as a major component in N uptake has rarely been considered. We address this gap by comparing the root N contents and uptake in lowland rainforests with that in oil palm plantations on Sumatra, Indonesia. To this aim, we applied $^{15}$N-labeled ammonium to intact soil, measured the $^{15}$N recovery in soil and roots, and calculated the root relative N uptake efficiency for 10 days after label application. We found that root N contents were by one third higher in the rainforest than oil palm plantations. However, $^{15}$N uptake efficiency was similar in the two systems. This finding suggests that lower N contents in oil palm roots were likely caused by plant internal utilization of the absorbed N (e.g., N export to fruit bunches) than by lower ability to take up N from the soil. $^{15}$N recovery in roots was primarily driven by the amount of root biomass, which was higher in oil palm plantation than rainforest. The oil palms unveiled a high capacity to acquire N, offering the possibility of enhancing sustainable plantation management by reducing N fertilizer application.
• Journal Article

Leaf Bilateral Symmetry and the Scaling of the Perimeter vs. the Surface Area in 15 Vine Species ﻿

Forests 2020; 11(2) p.1-18: Art. 246
The leaves of vines exhibit a high degree of variability in shape, from simple oval to highly dissected palmatifid leaves. However, little is known about the extent of leaf bilateral symmetry in vines, how leaf perimeter scales with leaf surface area, and how this relationship depends on leaf shape. We studied 15 species of vines and calculated (i) the areal ratio (AR) of both sides of the lamina per leaf, (ii) the standardized symmetry index (SI) to estimate the deviation from leaf bilateral symmetry, and (iii) the dissection index (DI) to measure leaf-shape complexity. In addition, we examined whether there is a scaling relationship between leaf perimeter and area for each species. A total of 14 out of 15 species had no significant differences in average ln(AR), and mean ln(AR) approximated zero, indicating that the areas of the two lamina sides tended to be equal. Nevertheless, SI values among the 15 species had significant differences. A statistically strong scaling relationship between leaf perimeter and area was observed for each species, and the scaling exponents of 12 out of 15 species fell in the range of 0.49-0.55. These data show that vines tend to generate a similar number of left- and right-skewed leaves, which might contribute to optimizing light interception. Weaker scaling relationships between leaf perimeter and area were associated with a greater DI and a greater variation in DI. Thus, DI provides a useful measure of the degree of the complexity of leaf outline.
• Journal Article

Airborne Tree Crown Detection for Predicting Spatial Heterogeneity of Canopy Transpiration in a Tropical Rainforest ﻿

Remote Sensing 2020; 12(4) p.1-16: Art. 651
Tropical rainforests comprise complex 3D structures and encompass heterogeneous site conditions; their transpiration contributes to climate regulation. The objectives of our study were to test the relationship between tree water use and crown metrics and to predict spatial variability of canopy transpiration across sites. In a lowland rainforest of Sumatra, we measured tree water use with sap flux techniques and simultaneously assessed crown metrics with drone-based photogrammetry. We observed a close linear relationship between individual tree water use and crown surface area (R$^2$ = 0.76, n = 42 trees). Uncertainties in predicting stand-level canopy transpiration were much lower using tree crown metrics than the more conventionally used stem diameter. 3D canopy segmentation analyses in combination with the tree crown–water use relationship predict substantial spatial heterogeneity in canopy transpiration. Among our eight study plots, there was a more than two-fold difference, with lower transpiration at riparian than at upland sites. In conclusion, we regard drone-based canopy segmentation and crown metrics to be very useful tools for the scaling of transpiration from tree- to stand-level. Our results indicate substantial spatial variation in crown packing and thus canopy transpiration of tropical rainforests.
• Journal Article

Various effects of the expression of the xyloglucanase gene from Penicillium canescens in transgenic aspen under semi-natural conditions ﻿

BMC Plant Biology. 2020 Jun 03;20(1):251
Abstract Background Recombinant carbohydrases genes are used to produce transgenic woody plants with improved phenotypic traits. However, cultivation of such plants in open field is challenging due to a number of problems. Therefore, additional research is needed to alleviate them. Results Results of successful cultivation of the transgenic aspens (Populus tremula) carrying the recombinant xyloglucanase gene (sp-Xeg) from Penicillium canescens in semi-natural conditions are reported in this paper for the first time. Change of carbohydrate composition of wood was observed in transgenic aspens carrying the sp-Xeg gene. The transformed transgenic line Xeg-2-1b demonstrated accelerated growth and increased content of cellulose in wood of trees growing in both greenhouse and outside in comparison with the control untransformed line Pt. The accelerated growth was observed also in the transgenic line Xeg-1-1c. Thicker cell-wall and longer xylem fiber were also observed in both these transgenic lines. Undescribed earlier considerable reduction in the wood decomposition rate of the transgenic aspen stems was also revealed for the transformed transgenic lines. The decomposition rate was approximately twice as lower for the transgenic line Xeg-2-3b in comparison with the control untransformed line Pt. Conclusion A direct dependence of the phenotypic and biochemical traits on the expression of the recombinant gene sp-Xeg was demonstrated. The higher was the level of the sp-Xeg gene expression, the more pronounced were changes in the phenotypic and biochemical traits. All lines showed phenotypic changes in the leave traits. Our results showed that the plants carrying the recombinant sp-Xeg gene do not demonstrate a decrease in growth parameters in semi-natural conditions. In some transgenic lines, a change in the carbohydrate composition of the wood, an increase in the cell wall thickness, and a decrease in the rate of decomposition of wood were observed.
• Journal Article

Correction to: Towards the restoration of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor for large mammals in Panama: comparing multi-species occupancy to movement models ﻿

Movement Ecology. 2020 May 26;8(1):20
An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via the original article.
• Journal Article

Alternative Quantifications of Landscape Complementation to Model Gene Flow in Banded Longhorn Beetles [Typocerus v. velutinus (Olivier)] ﻿

Frontiers in Genetics 2020; 11 p.1-12: Art. 307
Rapid progression of human socio-economic activities has altered the structure and function of natural landscapes. Species that rely on multiple, complementary habitat types (i.e., landscape complementation) to complete their life cycle may be especially at risk. However, such landscape complementation has received little attention in the context of landscape connectivity modeling. A previous study on flower longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae: Lepturinae) integrated landscape complementation into a continuous habitat suitability ‘surface’, which was then used to quantify landscape connectivity between pairs of sampling sites using gradient-surface metrics. This connectivity model was validated with molecular genetic data collected for the banded longhorn beetle (Typocerus v. velutinus) in Indiana, United States. However, this approach has not been compared to alternative models in a landscape genetics context. Here, we used a discrete land use/land cover map to calculate landscape metrics related to landscape complementation based on a patch mosaic model (PMM) as an alternative to the previously published, continuous habitat suitability model (HSM). We evaluated the HSM surface with gradient surface metrics (GSM) and with two resistance-based models (RBM) based on least cost path (LCP) and commute distance (CD), in addition to an isolation-by-distance (IBD) model based on Euclidean distance. We compared the ability of these competing models of connectivity to explain pairwise genetic distances (RST) previously calculated from ten microsatellite genotypes of 454 beetles collected from 17 sites across Indiana, United States. Model selection with maximum likelihood population effects (MLPE) models found that GSM were most effective at explaining pairwise genetic distances as a proxy for gene flow across the landscape, followed by the landscape metrics calculated from the PMM, whereas the LCP model performed worse than both the CD and the isolation by distance model. We argue that the analysis of a continuous HSM with GSM might perform better because of their combined ability to effectively represent and quantify the continuous degree of landscape complementation (i.e., availability of complementary habitats in vicinity) found at and in-between sites, on which these beetles depend. Our findings may inform future studies that seek to model habitat connectivity in complex heterogeneous landscapes as natural habitats continue to become more fragmented in the Anthropocene.
• Journal Article

The Presence of IUCN Red List Tree Species in Dependence of Site Characteristics in the Vietnamese Cat Ba National Park ﻿

Diversity 2020; 12(3) p.1-17: Art. 104
Rare or endangered tree species are important components of forest ecosystems and play a crucial role in management and conservation. Understanding what influences their presence is critical for managers, conservationists and planners. This study presents results of a comprehensive inventory of the tree species and site characteristics in the Vietnamese Cat Ba National Park (CBNP). An adaptive cluster sampling technique was applied to study the effect of human disturbance, soil properties, and terrain conditions on the presence of IUCN Red List tree species (all individuals > 5 cm diameter at breast height) in three strictly protected areas in CBNP, which have varying levels of isolation. Data from 239 sample plots (500 m2 each) were analyzed. Tree species recorded during the inventory were assigned to two categories: IUCN Red List and other. Our results showed that site characteristics differed in the three protected areas along with the presence of IUCN Red List tree species. IUCN Red List tree species were more frequently found on less favorable soils (low soil depth) and in terrain with more pronounced slopes and with a higher rock surface area (%). However, there is no indication from existing information on the autecology of the different Red List species that the site conditions hosting the species are the ones favored by the species, even on the contrary for some. Although direct signs of human activity (paths, animal traps) could not be related to the presence of Red List tree species, the data suggest that the accessibility of the sites is a strong negative driver for the presence of Red List tree species. We conclude that protection of the forests of the Cat Ba Island should be stricter to allow the IUCN Red List tree species to grow under more appropriate conditions, which then would allow studying their ecology in more detail. This would further allow deriving more precise recommendations for their future protection.
• Journal Article

Poplar Rows in Temperate Agroforestry Croplands Promote Bacteria, Fungi, and Denitrification Genes in Soils ﻿

Frontiers in Microbiology 2020; 10 p.1-11: Art. 3108
Agroforestry, which is the integration of trees into monoculture cropland, can alter soil properties and nutrient cycling. Temperate agroforestry practices have been shown to affect soil microbial communities as indicated by changes in enzyme activities, substrate-induced respiration, and microbial biomass. Research exploring soil microbial communities in temperate agroforestry with the help of molecular tools which allow for the quantification of microbial taxa and selected genes is scarce. Here, we quantified 13 taxonomic groups of microorganisms and nine genes involved in N cycling (N2 fixation, nitrification, and denitrification) in soils of three paired temperate agroforestry and conventional monoculture croplands using real-time PCR. The agroforestry croplands were poplar-based alley-cropping systems in which samples were collected in the tree rows as well as within the crop rows at three distances from the tree rows. The abundance of Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, Alpha- and Gammaproteobacteria, Firmicutes, and Verrucomicrobia increased in the vicinity of poplar trees, which may be accounted for by the presence of persistent poplar roots as well as by the input of tree litter. The strongest population increase was observed for Basidiomycota, which was likely related to high soil moisture, the accumulation of tree litter, and the absence of tillage in the tree rows. Soil microorganisms carrying denitrification genes were more abundant in the tree rows than in the crop rows and monoculture systems, suggesting a greater potential for nitrate removal through denitrification, which may reduce nitrate leaching. Since microbial communities are involved in critical soil processes, we expect that the combination of real-time PCR with soil process measurements will greatly enhance insights into the microbial control of important soil functions in agroforestry systems.