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Renison D.,CONICET | Chartier M.P.,CONICET | Menghi M.,CONICET | Marcora P.I.,CONICET | And 5 more authors.
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2014

Tropical and subtropical high mountains forests are mainly situated within ravines. Two alternative and often confronted explanations have been proposed for this pattern: that abiotic environmental conditions are favourable for tree establishment only within ravines, or that ravines are less affected by grazing and fires which negatively affect establishment in other sites. Here we propose a mixed explanation and hypothesize that abiotic environmental conditions associated to spatial variation are important during early seedling establishment and that grazing is the main determinant during later stages through its negative effect on survival and growth of larger saplings. We sowed 302,400 seeds and planted 360 saplings of the dominant tree species from the upper Córdoba Mountain range (Central Argentina) with and without grazing in three contrasting sites: a ravine, a valley and a ridge. We monitored seeding plots 5. years until the seedlings reached the height of the planted saplings and we monitored the planted saplings for 12. years. We integrated life stages using matrix multiplications, which resulted in data simulating 17. years of the trees' early development. Our results showed that seedling establishment was lower in the ravine and ridge sites and higher in the valley site with negative differences due to grazing only in the valley. Planted sapling survival increased but growth decreased from ravine to valley and ridge sites in the absence of large herbivores, while both survival and growth were substantially lower in the presence of large herbivores. Matrix multiplications indicated that differences between sites were 5.0 times more important than grazing when integrating up to year 5, but grazing by large herbivores was 5.4 times more important than differences between sites when assessed across the whole 17. year period. We conclude that there could be a strong influence of grazing in restricting high montane forests to sites like ravines where large herbivores are less frequent and show how the relative importance of site characteristics and grazing changes as a result of the length and the differing life stages which are monitored. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Forster J.,Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research | Forster J.,Martin Luther University of Halle Wittenberg | Barkmann J.,University of Gottingen | Fricke R.,University of Marburg | And 16 more authors.
Ecology and Society | Year: 2015

Assessments of ecosystem services (ES), that aim at informing decisions on land management, are increasing in number around the globe. Despite selected success stories, evidence for ES information being used in decision making is weak, partly because ES assessments are found to fall short in targeting information needs by decision makers. To improve their applicability in practice, we compared existing concepts of ES assessments with focus on informing land use decisions and identified opportunities for enhancing the relevance of ES assessments for decision making. In a process of codesign, building on experience of four projects in Brazil, China, Madagascar, and Vietnam, we developed a step-wise approach for better targeting ES assessments toward information needs in land use decisions. Our problem-oriented approach aims at (1) structuring ES information according to land use problems identified by stakeholders, (2) targeting context-specific ES information needs by decision makers, and (3) assessing relevant management options. We demonstrate how our approach contributes to making ES assessments more policy relevant and enhances the application of ES assessments as a tool for decision support. © 2015 by the author(s).

Spangenberg J.H.,Helmholtz Center for Environment Research | Spangenberg J.H.,Sustainable Europe Research Institute SERI Germany | Settele J.,Helmholtz Center for Environment Research | Settele J.,iDiv German Center for integrative biodiversity research
Ecosystem Services | Year: 2016

Scientists talk of "ecosystem services" and their economic value when arguing for the conservation of biodiversity. The limits to this line of argumentation are analysed based on the philosophy of values (axiology), exploring different kinds of values and discussing which of them can be adequately described with economic methods. The three promises of economic valuation, raising awareness in polity, saving biodiversity by internalising external cost, and contributing to better decisions are assessed and turn out to be more than questionable. Finally, the niche is defined where economic valuation makes sense, taking into account the restrictions from the axiological and the economic analysis. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.

Spangenberg J.H.,Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research | Spangenberg J.H.,SERI Germany Sustainable Europe Research Institute | Gorg C.,Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research | Gorg C.,Klagenfurt University | And 2 more authors.
Ecosystem Services | Year: 2015

Conceptually, stakeholder participation in the governance of ecosystem services (ESS) is necessary for several reasons, some of them well-known for sustainability governance in general but some more specific for ecosystem services. In particular the failure of monetary valuation to provide meaningful valuation instruments requires participation of a representative diversity of stakeholders in ESS research and governance to answer the question what people value, and how. Building upon experience from transdisciplinary research projects in Asia, Africa and Europe, we argue that successful participation depends on the specific socio-cultural context and requires different means and modes of participation during different project phases. We list a variety of tested methods, with reference to the pros and cons each of them has. The challenges we describe are structured according to theoretical concepts, but not derived from them but from project experience. They are formidable, both conceptually and empirically, but with good project coordination such difficulties can be anticipated and handled.The paper first outlines the specific challenges of ESS assessment and valuation in inter- and transdisciplinary research, arguing in Section 1 that the failure of internalisation requires participation as value attributing mechanism. Section 2 describes challenges experienced with participation in research design and implementation; the latter links to Section 3 which draws lessons for ESS governance strategies. Section 4 presents some lessons learned for future ESS research and governance. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

Lesur I.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Le Provost G.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Le Provost G.,University of Bordeaux 1 | Bento P.,French Atomic Energy Commission | And 34 more authors.
BMC Genomics | Year: 2015

Background: Many northern-hemisphere forests are dominated by oaks. These species extend over diverse environmental conditions and are thus interesting models for studies of plant adaptation and speciation. The genomic toolbox is an important asset for exploring the functional variation associated with natural selection. Results: The assembly of previously available and newly developed long and short sequence reads for two sympatric oak species, Quercus robur and Quercus petraea, generated a comprehensive catalog of transcripts for oak. The functional annotation of 91 k contigs demonstrated the presence of a large proportion of plant genes in this unigene set. Comparisons with SwissProt accessions and five plant gene models revealed orthologous relationships, making it possible to decipher the evolution of the oak genome. In particular, it was possible to align 9.5 thousand oak coding sequences with the equivalent sequences on peach chromosomes. Finally, RNA-seq data shed new light on the gene networks underlying vegetative bud dormancy release, a key stage in development allowing plants to adapt their phenology to the environment. Conclusion: In addition to providing a vast array of expressed genes, this study generated essential information about oak genome evolution and the regulation of genes associated with vegetative bud phenology, an important adaptive traits in trees. This resource contributes to the annotation of the oak genome sequence and will provide support for forward genetics approaches aiming to link genotypes with adaptive phenotypes. © 2015 Lesur et al.

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