Heteren, Netherlands
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Stal L.J.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology
Ecological Engineering | Year: 2010

The properties and behavior of intertidal marine sediments cannot be understood without taking their biology into account. Biological factors are important for the stability and erosion threshold of intertidal sediments as well as for sediment transport. In this paper I focus on intertidal sediments that are colonized and dominated by phototrophic microorganisms and their impact on the morphodynamics and sediment stabilization. The emphasis is on epipelic diatoms. These organisms exude copious amounts of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) that may contribute to the stability of the sediment by gluing and binding. I review the factors that lead to the development of such microphytobenthic communities and the processes that lead to the exudation of EPS and its fate in intertidal mudflats. Epipelic diatoms exude EPS partly as the result of unbalanced growth. Extraction of EPS from cultures of epipelic diatoms yields two operational fractions. While one fraction contains largely neutral EPS, which may serve as a carbon- and energy reserve for the organism, the other is acidic and more recalcitrant to degradation. The latter EPS fraction is therefore predominant in the muddy sediment and may be responsible for increasing the erosion threshold. However, since extracted EPS alone is incapable of increasing the erosion threshold, diatoms are apparently actively involved in the structuring of the biofilm matrix. Therefore, sediment stabilization cannot be attributed simply to EPS alone. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Mendes R.,Laboratory of Environmental Microbiology | Garbeva P.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology | Raaijmakers J.M.,Wageningen University
FEMS Microbiology Reviews | Year: 2013

Microbial communities play a pivotal role in the functioning of plants by influencing their physiology and development. While many members of the rhizosphere microbiome are beneficial to plant growth, also plant pathogenic microorganisms colonize the rhizosphere striving to break through the protective microbial shield and to overcome the innate plant defense mechanisms in order to cause disease. A third group of microorganisms that can be found in the rhizosphere are the true and opportunistic human pathogenic bacteria, which can be carried on or in plant tissue and may cause disease when introduced into debilitated humans. Although the importance of the rhizosphere microbiome for plant growth has been widely recognized, for the vast majority of rhizosphere microorganisms no knowledge exists. To enhance plant growth and health, it is essential to know which microorganism is present in the rhizosphere microbiome and what they are doing. Here, we review the main functions of rhizosphere microorganisms and how they impact on health and disease. We discuss the mechanisms involved in the multitrophic interactions and chemical dialogues that occur in the rhizosphere. Finally, we highlight several strategies to redirect or reshape the rhizosphere microbiome in favor of microorganisms that are beneficial to plant growth and health. In this review, we focus on the frequency, diversity and activities of beneficial ('the good'), plant pathogenic ('the bad') and human pathogenic ('the ugly') microorganisms in the rhizosphere and how they impact on health and disease. Specific attention is given to mechanisms involved in multitrophic interactions and chemical dialogues that occur in the rhizosphere. Finally, we discuss strategies to re-direct or re-shape the rhizosphere microbiome in favour of those microbes that are beneficial to plant growth and health. © 2013 Federation of European Microbiological Societies.

Harvey J.A.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology | Poelman E.H.,Wageningen University | Tanaka T.,Nagoya University
Annual Review of Entomology | Year: 2013

Immature development of parasitoid wasps is restricted to resources found in a single host that is often similar in size to the adult parasitoid. When two or more parasitoids of the same or different species attack the same host, there is competition for monopolization of host resources. The success of intrinsic competition differs between parasitoids attacking growing hosts and parasitoids attacking paralyzed hosts. Furthermore, the evolution of gregarious development in parasitoids reflects differences in various developmental and behavioral traits, as these influence antagonistic encounters among immature parasitoids. Fitness-related costs (or benefits) of competition for the winning parasitoid reveal that time lags between successive attacks influence the outcome of competition. Physiological mechanisms used to exclude competitors include physical and biochemical factors that originate with the ovipositing female wasp or her progeny. In a broader multitrophic framework, indirect factors, such as plant quality, may affect parasitoids through effects on immunity and nutrition. © 2013 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.

Bodelier P.L.E.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability | Year: 2011

Recent dynamics and uncertainties in global methane budgets necessitate research of controls of sources and sinks of atmospheric methane. Production of methane by methanogenic archaea in wetlands is a major source while consumption by methane oxidizing bacteria in upland soils is a major sink. Methane formation as well as consumption is affected by nitrogenous fertilizers as has been studied intensively. This review synthesizes the results of these studies which are contradictory and await mechanistic explanations. These can be found in the community composition and the traits of the microbes involved in methane cycling. Molecular microbial investigations, use of stable isotope labeling techniques, discoveries and isolation of new species and pathways offer new insight into interactions between nitrogen and methane cycling. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

Schaper S.V.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology
The American naturalist | Year: 2012

Timing of reproduction in temperate-zone birds is strongly correlated with spring temperature, with an earlier onset of breeding in warmer years. Females adjust their timing of egg laying between years to be synchronized with local food sources and thereby optimize reproductive output. However, climate change currently disrupts the link between predictive environmental cues and spring phenology. To investigate direct effects of temperature on the decision to lay and its genetic basis, we used pairs of great tits (Parus major) with known ancestry and exposed them to simulated spring scenarios in climate-controlled aviaries. In each of three years, we exposed birds to different patterns of changing temperature. We varied the timing of a temperature change, the daily temperature amplitude, and the onset and speed of a seasonal temperature rise. We show that females fine-tune their laying in response to a seasonal increase in temperature, whereas mean temperature and daily temperature variation alone do not affect laying dates. Luteinizing hormone concentrations and gonadal growth in early spring were not influenced by temperature or temperature rise, possibly posing a constraint to an advancement of breeding. Similarities between sisters in their laying dates indicate genetic variation in cue sensitivity. These results refine our understanding of how changes in spring climate might affect the mismatch in avian timing and thereby population viability.

Bardgett R.D.,University of Manchester | Van Der Putten W.H.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology | Van Der Putten W.H.,Wageningen University
Nature | Year: 2014

Evidence is mounting that the immense diversity of microorganisms and animals that live belowground contributes significantly to shaping aboveground biodiversity and the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Our understanding of how this belowground biodiversity is distributed, and how it regulates the structure and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems, is rapidly growing. Evidence also points to soil biodiversity as having a key role in determining the ecological and evolutionary responses of terrestrial ecosystems to current and future environmental change. Here we review recent progress and propose avenues for further research in this field. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Bauer S.,Swiss Ornithological Institute | Bauer S.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology | Hoye B.J.,University of Colorado at Boulder | Hoye B.J.,Deakin University
Science | Year: 2014

Animal migrations span the globe, involving immense numbers of individuals from a wide range of taxa. Migrants transport nutrients, energy, and other organisms as they forage and are preyed upon throughout their journeys. These highly predictable, pulsed movements across large spatial scales render migration a potentially powerful yet underappreciated dimension of biodiversity that is intimately embedded within resident communities. We review examples from across the animal kingdom to distill fundamental processes by which migratory animals influence communities and ecosystems, demonstrating that they can uniquely alter energy flow, food-web topology and stability, trophic cascades, and the structure of metacommunities. Given the potential for migration to alter ecological networks worldwide, we suggest an integrative framework through which community dynamics and ecosystem functioning may explicitly consider animal migrations.

Gienapp P.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology
Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences | Year: 2013

Populations need to adapt to sustained climate change, which requires micro-evolutionary change in the long term. A key question is how the rate of this micro-evolutionary change compares with the rate of environmental change, given that theoretically there is a 'critical rate of environmental change' beyond which increased maladaptation leads to population extinction. Here, we parametrize two closely related models to predict this critical rate using data from a long-term study of great tits (Parus major). We used stochastic dynamic programming to predict changes in optimal breeding time under three different climate scenarios. Using these results we parametrized two theoretical models to predict critical rates. Results from both models agreed qualitatively in that even 'mild' rates of climate change would be close to these critical rates with respect to great tit breeding time, while for scenarios close to the upper limit of IPCC climate projections the calculated critical rates would be clearly exceeded with possible consequences for population persistence. We therefore tentatively conclude that micro-evolution, together with plasticity, would rescue only the population from mild rates of climate change, although the models make many simplifying assumptions that remain to be tested.

Van Der Putten W.H.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology
Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics | Year: 2012

Changes in climate, land use, fire incidence, and ecological connections all may contribute to current species' range shifts. Species shift range individually, and not all species shift range at the same time and rate. This variation causes community reorganization in both the old and new ranges. In terrestrial ecosystems, range shifts alter aboveground-belowground interactions, Influencing species abundance, community composition, ecosystem processes and services, and feedbacks within communities and ecosystems. Thus, range shifts may result in no-analog communities where foundation species and community genetics play unprecedented roles, possibly leading to novel ecosystems. Long-distance dispersal can enhance the disruption of aboveground-belowground interactions of plants, herbivores, pathogens, symbiotic mutualists, and decomposer organisms. These effects are most likely stronger for latitudinal than for altitudinal range shifts. Disrupted aboveground-belowground interactions may have Influenced historical postglacial range shifts as well. Assisted migration without considering aboveground-belowground interactions could enhance risks of such range shift-induced invasions. © 2012 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.

Macel M.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology
Phytochemistry Reviews | Year: 2011

Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are the major defense compounds of plants in the Senecio genus. Here I will review the effects of PAs in Senecio on the preference and performance of specialist and generalist insect herbivores. Specialist herbivores have evolved adaptation to PAs in their host plant. They can use the alkaloids as cue to find their host plant and often they sequester PAs for their own defense against predators. Generalists, on the other hand, can be deterred by PAs. PAs can also affect survival of generalist herbivores. Usually generalist insects avoid feeding on young Senecio leaves, which contain a high concentration of alkaloids. Structurally related PAs can differ in their effects on insect herbivores, some are more toxic than others. The differences in effects of PAs on specialist and generalists could lead to opposing selection on PAs, which may maintain the genetic diversity in PA concentration and composition in Senecio species. © 2010 The Author(s).

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