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Burned and Devoured-Introduced Herbivores, Fire, and the Endemic Flora of the High-Elevation Ecosystem on La Palma, Canary Islands

Published on Nov 1, 2014in Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research1.708
· DOI :10.1657/1938-4246-46.4.859
Severin D. H. Irl11
Estimated H-index: 11
(University of Bayreuth),
Manuel J. Steinbauer17
Estimated H-index: 17
(University of Bayreuth)
+ 4 AuthorsAnke Jentsch37
Estimated H-index: 37
(University of Bayreuth)
Abstract
Abstract Novel disturbance regimes (e.g., introduced herbivores and fire) are among the major drivers of degradation in island ecosystems. High-elevation ecosystems (HEEs) on islands might be especially vulnerable to these disturbances due to high endemism. Here, data from an 11-year exclosure experiment in the HEE of La Palma (Canary Islands) are presented where mammalian herbivores have been introduced. We investigate the combined effect of herbivory and fire on total species richness, seedling richness, and seedling establishment on the whole system and a subset of highly endangered species (target species). Total species richness, seedling species richness, and seedling establishment decreased with herbivory. Five out of eight target species were exclusively found inside the exclosures indicating the negative impact of introduced herbivores on endemic high elevation flora. Target species were generally affected more negatively by introduced herbivores and were subject to significantly higher browsing ...
  • References (54)
  • Citations (18)
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References54
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Last. José María Fernández-Palacios (ULL: University of La Laguna)H-Index: 33
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As a working hypothesis, we examined evidence for the former presence of a climacic woodland of Juniperus cedrus above the pine forest in the high elevation area of Tenerife (Canary Islands), which would indicate that the current dominant vegetation (endemic Spartocytisus supranubius scrub) may not be pristine. The main causes of the great regression of this woodland were caused by human activities (timber harvesting, herbivory by goats, and fires). The main support for this hypothesis is the su...
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Abstract Summit ecosystems of oceanic islands constitute one of the most ephemeral and isolated ecosystems existing, harboring specific features that confer on their biota an outstanding distinctness. Summits are short-lived entities, being the last ecosystems to be constructed during the growth of the new oceanic island, and the first to vanish due either to island subsidence, island erosion, or both. Whereas their geological emergence/disappearance is controlled by the volcanic/erosion activit...
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Treeline expansion is reported as a widespread response to rising temperatures, yet few studies have considered the impact of treeline advance on the diversity and function of high altitude systems. Evidence suggests that climate change is already having a negative impact on alpine diversity and is modifying functions such as carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling. Treeline advance is likely to further affect diversity and function, yet our understanding of the processes involved is limited. ...
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Traits that mediate species interactions are evolutionarily shaped by biotic and abiotic drivers, yet we know relatively little about the relative importance of these factors. Herbivore pressure, along with resource availability and ‘third-party’ mutualists, are hypothesized to play a major role in the evolution of plant defence traits. Here, we used the model system Plantago lanceolata, which grows along steep elevation gradients in the Swiss Alps, to investigate the effect of elevation, herbiv...
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Roadsides are habitats with very specific environmental conditions, often substantially differing from their natural surroundings. However, roads can have a positive effect on local vascular plant species richness. Endemic species on oceanic islands are considered to be less disturbance-adapted than native non-endemics and thus should be negatively affected by roads. Islands provide optimal conditions for testing this, as they possess a large share of clearly defined endemic species. This study ...
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Summary Plant defence traits have evolved over macro- and microevolutionary time-scales in response to herbivores. Although a number of studies have investigated the evolutionary impacts of herbivores over short time-scales, few studies have experimentally examined what defence traits most commonly evolve and whether multiple coexisting species exhibit similar evolutionary responses to herbivores. We addressed these questions using a long-term experiment at Silwood Park, England, United Kingdom,...
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Different spatial interpolation techniques have been applied to construct objective bioclimatic maps of La Palma, Canary Islands. Interpolation of climatic data on this topographically complex island with strong elevation and climatic gradients represents a challenge. Furthermore, meteorological stations are not evenly distributed over the island, with few stations at high elevations. We carried out spatial interpolations of the compensated thermicity index (Itc) and the annual ombrothermic Inde...
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