Salmon-derived nitrogen in terrestrial invertebrates from coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest.
BACKGROUND: Bi-directional flow of nutrients between marine and terrestrial ecosystems can provide essential resources that structure communities in transitional habitats. On the Pacific coast of North America, anadromous salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) constitute a dominant nutrient subsidy to aquatic habitats and riparian vegetation, although the contribution to terrestrial habitats is not well established. We use a dual isotope approach of delta15N and delta13C to test for the contribution of salmon nutrients to multiple trophic levels of litter-based terrestrial invertebrates below and above waterfalls that act as a barrier to salmon migration on two watersheds in coastal British Columbia. RESULTS: Invertebrates varied predictably in delta15N with enrichment of 3-8 per thousand below the falls compared with above the falls in all trophic groups on both watersheds. We observed increasing delta15N levels in our invertebrate groups with increasing consumption of dietary protein. Invertebrates varied in delta13C but did not always vary predictably with trophic level or habitat. From 19.4 to 71.5% of invertebrate total nitrogen was originally derived from salmon depending on taxa, watershed, and degree of fractionation from the source. CONCLUSIONS: Enrichment of delta15N in the invertebrate community below the falls in conjunction with the absence of delta13C enrichment suggests that enrichment in delta15N occurs primarily through salmon-derived nitrogen subsidies to litter, soil and vegetation N pools rather than from direct consumption of salmon tissue or salmon tissue consumers. Salmon nutrient subsidies to terrestrial habitats may result in shifts in invertebrate community structure, with subsequent implications for higher vertebrate consumers, particularly the passerines. (+info)
How do water transport and water storage differ in coniferous earlywood and latewood?
The goal of this research project was to determine the water transport behaviour of earlywood versus latewood in the trunk of 21-year-old Douglas-fir [Pseudostuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco] trees. Specific conductivity (k(s)) and the vulnerability of xylem to embolism were measured on a single growth ring and in a subset of earlywood and latewood samples within the same ring. Earlywood/latewood ratio, trunk water potential (Psi) and relative water content (RWC) were used to predict differences in conductivities and vulnerability to embolism. Earlywood has about 11 times the k(s) of latewood, and up to 90% of the total flow occurred through the earlywood. Earlywood's vulnerability to embolism followed the same trend as that of the whole wood, with 50% loss of conductivity at -2.2 MPa (P(50)). Latewood was more vulnerable to embolism than earlywood at high Psi, but as Psi decreased, the latewood showed very little further embolism, with a P(50) <-5.0 MPa. The lowest trunk Psi estimated in the field was about -1.4 MPa, indicating that latewood and earlywood in the field experienced about 42% and 16% loss of k(s), respectively. The higher vulnerability to embolism in latewood than in earlywood at field Psi was associated with higher water storage capacity (21.8% RWC MPa(-1) versus 4.1% RWC MPa(-1), latewood and earlywood, respectively). The shape of the vulnerability curve suggests that air seeding through latewood may occur directly through pores in the margo and seal off at lower pressure than earlywood pores. (+info)
The role of two isoenzymes of alpha-amylase of Araucaria araucana (Araucariaceae) on the digestion of starch granules during germination.
Starch is the principal reserve of Araucaria araucana seeds, and it is hydrolysed during germination mainly by alpha-amylase. There are several alpha-amylase isoenzymes whose patterns change in the embryo and in the megagametophyte from the one observed in quiescent seeds (T(0)) to a different one observed 90 h after imbibition (T(90)). The objective of this research was to study the roles of two purified alpha-amylase isoenzymes by in vitro digestion of starch granules extracted from the tissues at two times of imbibition: one is abundant in quiescent seeds and the other is abundant after 90 h of imbibition. The isoenzymes digested the starch granules of their own stage of germination better, since the isoenzyme T(0) digested starch granules mainly from quiescent seeds, while the isoenzyme T(90) digested starch mainly at 90 h of imbibition. The sizes of the starch granule and the tissue from which these granules originated make a difference to digestion by the isoenzymes. Embryonic isoenzyme T(0) digested large embryonic starch granules better than small and medium-sized granules, and better than those isolated from megagametophytes. Similarly isoenzyme T(90) digested small embryonic starch granules better than medium-sized and large granules, and better than those isolated from megagametophytes. However, a mixture of partially purified megagametophytic isoenzymes T(0) and T(90) digested the megagametophytic granules better than those isolated from embryos. Studies of in vitro sequential digestion of starch granules with these isoenzymes corroborated their specificity. The isoenzyme T(90) digested starch granules previously digested by the isoenzyme T(0). This suggests that in vivo these two isoenzymes may act sequentially in starch granule digestion. (+info)
The penalty of a long, hot summer. Photosynthetic acclimation to high CO2 and continuous light in "living fossil" conifers.
Deciduous forests covered the ice-free polar regions 280 to 40 million years ago under warm "greenhouse" climates and high atmospheric pCO2. Their deciduous habit is frequently interpreted as an adaptation for minimizing carbon losses during winter, but experiments with "living fossils" in a simulated warm polar environment refute this explanation. Measured carbon losses through leaf abscission of deciduous trees are significantly greater than losses through winter respiration in evergreens, yet annual rates of primary productivity are similar in all species. Here, we investigate mechanisms underlying this apparent paradox by measuring the seasonal patterns of leaf photosynthesis (A) under pCO2 enrichment in the same trees. During spring, A increased significantly in coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), and swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum) at an elevated pCO2 of 80 Pa compared with controls at 40 Pa. However, strong acclimation in Rubisco carboxylation capacity (Vc,max) completely offset the CO2 response of A in all species by the end of 6 weeks of continuous illumination in the simulated polar summer. Further measurements demonstrated the temporary nature of acclimation, with increases in Vc,max during autumn restoring the CO2 sensitivity of A. Contrary to expectations, the acclimation of Vc,max was not always accompanied by accumulation of leaf carbohydrates, but was associated with a decline in leaf nitrogen in summer, suggesting an alteration of the balance in plant sources and sinks for carbon and nitrogen. Preliminary calculations using A indicated that winter carbon losses through deciduous leaf abscission and respiration were recovered by 10 to 25 d of canopy carbon fixation during summer, thereby explaining the productivity paradox. (+info)
Overdominant lethals as part of the conifer embryo lethal system.
In pines, self-pollination rates can be as high as 34% yet only 5% of viable seed is a product of self-fertilization. This decline in selfed seed viability is the consequence of post-fertilization exclusion mechanisms operating via the embryo lethal system. Recent molecular marker dissection studies suggest that the embryo lethal system is composed of semilethal factors dispersed across the genome, but it is not clear whether overdominant lethal factors are rare or representative. The study objective was to determine if overdominance was rare for the embryo lethal system in conifers. Three cohorts of selfed offspring from a single Pinus taeda parent were genotyped for nuclear microsatellites. Maximum likelihood tests based on distorted segregation ratios for single markers and for interval mapping were used to infer the degree of dominance. Four hypotheses about overdominance lethal factors were tested: (1) overdominant lethal factors rarely occur within the embryo lethal system, (2) overdominant lethal factors are rarely detected because they are transient and display stage-specific expression, (3) overdominant lethal factors are rarely detected due to tight linkage with rare marker alleles and (4) dominance estimation is unbiased by gametic selection. Four out of the seven chromosomal segments were linked to an overdominant lethal factor. One of these four segments had symmetric overdominance, an effect which persisted from embryo maturity through germination. Four overdominant lethal factors were linked to common and rare marker alleles. Gametic selection was not a source of bias in dominance estimation. Overdominant or pseudo-overdominant lethal factors are a common component of the conifer embryo lethal system. (+info)
Island biology and ecosystem functioning in epiphytic soil communities.
Although island attributes such as size and accessibility to colonizing organisms can influence community structure, the consequences of these for ecosystem functioning are little understood. A study of the suspended soils of spatially discrete epiphytes or treetop "islands" in the canopies of New Zealand rainforest trees revealed that different components of the decomposer community responded either positively or negatively to island size, as well as to the tree species that the islands occurred in. This in turn led to important differences between islands in the rates of ecosystem processes driven by the decomposer biota. This system serves as a model for better understanding how attributes of both real and habitat islands may affect key ecosystem functions through determining the community structure of organisms that drive these functions. (+info)
Axillary meristems and the development of epicormic buds in wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis).
Intact trees of Wollemia nobilis Jones, Hill and Allen (Araucariaceae) routinely develop multiple coppice shoots as well as orthotropic epicormic shoots that become replacement or additional leaders. As these are unusual architectural features for the Araucariaceae, an investigation was made of the axillary meristems of the main stem and their role in the production of epicormic and possibly coppice shoots. Leaf axils, excised from the apex to the base of 2-m-high W. nobilis plants (seedling origin, ex situ grown), were examined anatomically. Small, endogenous, undifferentiated (no leaf primordia, no vascular or provascular connections) meristems were found in the axils from near the shoot apex. In the more proximal positions about half the meristems sampled did not differentiate further, but became tangentially elongated to compensate for increases in stem diameter. In the remaining axils the meristems slowly developed into bud primordia, although these buds usually developed few leaf primordia and their apical 'domes' were wide and flat. Associated vascular development was generally restricted to provascular dedifferentiation of the cortical parenchyma, with the procambium usually forming a 'closed loop' that did not extend back to the secondary vascular tissues. Development of the meristems was very uneven with adjacent axils often at widely differing stages of development into buds. The study shows that, unlike most conifers, W. nobilis possesses long-lived meristematic potential in most, if not all, leaf axils. Unlike other araucarias that have been investigated, many of the meristems in the orthotropic main stem will slowly develop into bud primordia beneath the bark in intact plants. It appears likely that this slow but continued development provides a ready source of additional or replacement leaders and thus new branches and leaves. (+info)
Antibacterial and antifungal effects of essential oils from coniferous trees.
Essential oils have potential biological effects, i.e., antibiotic, anticarcinogenic, and sedative effects during stress. In the present study, we investigated the antibacterial and antifungal effects of essential oils extracted from the coniferous species Pinus densiflora, Pinus koraiensis, and Chamaecyparis obtusa, because their biological activities have not been yet elucidated. The essential oils were quantified using gas chromatography and identified in gas chromatography-mass spectrometric analysis. Simultaneously, antibacterial and antifungal assays were performed using the essential oils distilled from the needles of coniferous trees. The major components and the percentage of each essential oil were: 19.33% beta-thujene in P. densiflora; 10.49% alpha-pinene in P. koraiensis; 10.88% bornyl acetate in C. obtusa. The essential oils from P. densiflora and C. obtusa have antibacterial effects, whereas essential oils from P. koraiensis and C. obtusa have antifungal effects. These results indicate that the essential oils from the three coniferous trees, which have mild antimicrobial properties, can inhibit the growth of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and fungi. (+info)