132 results found
Tan C, Trew J, Peacock T, et al., 2023, Genomic screening of 16 UK native bat species through conservationist networks uncovers coronaviruses with zoonotic potential, Nature Communications, Vol: 14, Pages: 1-13, ISSN: 2041-1723
There has been limited characterisation of bat-borne coronaviruses in Europe. Here, we screened for coronaviruses in 48 faecal samples from 16 of the 17 bat species breeding in the UK, collected through a bat rehabilitation and conservationist network. We recovered nine (two novel) complete genomes across six bat species: four alphacoronaviruses, a MERS-related betacoronavirus, and four closely related sarbecoviruses. We demonstrate that at least one of these sarbecoviruses can bind and use the human ACE2 receptor for infecting human cells, albeit suboptimally. Additionally, the spike proteins of these sarbecoviruses possess an R-A-K-Q motif, which lies only one nucleotide mutation away from a furin cleavage site (FCS) that enhances infectivity in other coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2. However, mutating this motif to an FCS does not enable spike cleavage. Overall, while UK sarbecoviruses would require further molecular adaptations to infect humans, their zoonotic risk is unknown and warrants closer surveillance.
Kirkpatrick L, Adjiman C, ApSimon H, et al., 2023, Systems thinking for the transition to zero pollution, Systems thinking for the transition to zero pollution, www.imperial.ac.uk/grantham, Publisher: Grantham Institute, 40
Systems approaches are vital for coordinating decision-making in the face of complex issues because they provide the whole picture view needed to avoid negative unintended consequences and to generate genuine benefits. This paper explains how systems thinking can be used to address environmental pollution and support decision-makers in finding solutions.
Preston-Allen R, Albini D, Barron L, et al., 2023, Are urban areas hotspots for pollution from pet parasiticides?, Are urban areas hotspots for pollution from pet parasiticides?, www.imperial.ac.uk/grantham, Publisher: Grantham Institute, Briefing Note 15
This briefing considers the environmental impact of pet parasiticides, which are commonly used to kill parasites such as fleas and ticks. It reviews possible routes that chemicals from veterinary parasiticides enter the environment, what impacts they may have on natural ecosystems and how to balance the needs of domestic pets, people, and the environment.
Ransome E, Hobbs F, Jones S, et al., 2023, Evaluating the transmission risk of SARS-CoV-2 from sewage pollution, Science of the Total Environment, Vol: 858, Pages: 1-8, ISSN: 0048-9697
The presence of SARS-CoV-2 in untreated sewage has been confirmed in many countries but its incidence and infection risk in contaminated waters is poorly understood. The River Thames in the UK receives untreated sewage from 57 Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), with many discharging dozens of times per year. This study investigated if such discharges provide a pathway for environmental transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Samples of wastewater, surface water, and sediment collected close to six CSOs on the River Thames were assayed over eight months for SARS-CoV-2 RNA and infectious virus. Bivalves were also sampled as an indicator species of viral bioaccumulation. Sediment and water samples from the Danube and Sava rivers in Serbia, where raw sewage is also discharged in high volumes, were assayed as a positive control. No evidence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA or infectious virus was found in UK samples, in contrast to RNA positive samples from Serbia. Furthermore, this study shows that infectious SARS-CoV-2 inoculum is stable in Thames water and sediment for <3 days, while SARS-CoV-2 RNA is detectable for at least seven days. This indicates that dilution of wastewater likely limits environmental transmission, and that detection of viral RNA alone is not an indication of pathogen spillover.
Morris OF, Loewen CJG, Woodward G, et al., 2022, Local stressors mask the effects of warming in freshwater ecosystems, Ecology Letters, Vol: 25, Pages: 2540-2551, ISSN: 1461-023X
Climate warming is a ubiquitous stressor in freshwater ecosystems, yet its interactive effects with other stressors are poorly understood. We address this knowledge gap by testing the ability of three contrasting null models to predict the joint impacts of warming and a range of other aquatic stressors using a new database of 296 experimental combinations. Despite concerns that stressors will interact to cause synergisms, we found that net impacts were usually best explained by the effect of the stronger stressor alone (the dominance null model), especially if this stressor was a local disturbance associated with human land use. Prediction accuracy depended on stressor identity and how asymmetric stressors were in the magnitude of their effects. These findings suggest we can effectively predict the impacts of multiple stressors by focusing on the stronger stressor, as habitat alteration, nutrients and contamination often override the biological consequences of higher temperatures in freshwater ecosystems.
Dobson B, Barry S, Maes-Prior R, et al., 2022, Predicting catchment suitability for biodiversity at national scales, WATER RESEARCH, Vol: 221, ISSN: 0043-1354
Jones S, Bell T, Coleman CM, et al., 2022, Testing bats in rehabilitation for SARS-CoV-2 before release into the wild, Conservation Science and Practice, Vol: 4, ISSN: 2578-4854
Several studies have suggested SARS-CoV-2 originated from a viral ancestor in bats, but whether transmission occurred directly or via an intermediary host to humans remains unknown. Concerns of spillover of SARS-CoV-2 into wild bat populations are hindering bat rehabilitation and conservation efforts in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Current protocols state that animals cared for by individuals who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 cannot be released into the wild and must be isolated to reduce the risk of transmission to wild populations. Here, we propose a reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR)-based protocol for detection of SARS-CoV-2 in bats, using fecal sampling. Bats from the United Kingdom were tested following suspected exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and tested negative for the virus. With current UK and international legislation, the identification of SARS-CoV-2 infection in wild animals is becoming increasingly important, and protocols such as the one developed here will help improve understanding and mitigation of SARS-CoV-2 in the future.
Kordas RL, Pawar S, Kontopoulos D-G, et al., 2022, Metabolic plasticity can amplify ecosystem responses to global warming, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, Vol: 13
Dobson B, Barry S, Maes-Prior R, et al., 2022, Predicting catchment suitability for biodiversity at national scales
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Biomonitoring of water quality and catchment management are often disconnected, due to mismatching scales. Great effort and money is spent each year on routine reach-scale surveying across many sites, particularly in the UK, and typically with a focus on pre-defined indicators of organic pollution to compare observed vs expected subsets of common macroinvertebrate indicator species. Threatened species are often ignored due to their rarity as are many invasive species, which are seen as undesirable even though they are increasingly common in freshwaters, especially in urban ecosystems. However, these taxa are monitored separately for reasons related to biodiversity concerns rather than for gauging water quality. Repurposing such monitoring data could therefore provide important new biomonitoring tools that can help catchment managers to directly link the water quality that they aim to control with the biodiversity that they are trying to protect. Here we used the England Non-Native and Rare/Protected species records that track these two groups of species as a proof-of-concept for linking catchment scale management of freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity to a range of potential drivers across England. We used national land use (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology land cover map) and water quality indicator (Environment Agency water quality data archive) datasets to predict the presence or absence of 48 focal threatened or invasive species of concern routinely sampled by the English Environment Agency at catchment scale, with a median accuracy of 0.81 area under the receiver operating characteristic curve. A variety of water quality indicators and land-use types were useful in predictions, highlighting that future biomonitoring schemes could use such complementary measures to capture a wider spectrum of drivers and responses. In particular, the percentage of a catchment covered by freshwater was the single most
Morris O, Barquín J, Belgrano A, et al., 2022, New strategies for sustainable fisheries management: A case study of Atlantic salmon, New strategies for sustainable fisheries management: A case study of Atlantic salmon, http://www.imperial.ac.uk/grantham, Publisher: The Grantham Institute, 37
This briefing paper considers the alarming declines in fish stocks in recent years, and how holistic, integrated approaches can help manage fish stocks within biologically sustainable limits. Using Atlantic salmon as a case study, the authors highlight the challenges facing fisheries management and conservation, and the implications for policy and management.
Woodward G, Morris O, Barquin J, et al., 2021, Using food webs and metabolic theory to monitor, model, and manage Atlantic salmon - a keystone species under threat, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, Vol: 9, ISSN: 2296-701X
Populations of Atlantic salmon are crashing across most of its natural range: understanding the underlying causes and predicting these collapses in time to intervene effectively are urgent ecological and socioeconomic priorities. Current management techniques rely on phenomenological analyses of demographic population time-series and thus lack a mechanistic understanding of how and why populations may be declining. New multidisciplinary approaches are thus needed to capitalize on the long-term, large-scale population data that are currently scattered across various repositories in multiple countries, as well as marshaling additional data to understand the constraints on the life cycle and how salmon operate within the wider food web. Here, we explore how we might combine data and theory to develop the mechanistic models that we need to predict and manage responses to future change. Although we focus on Atlantic salmon—given the huge data resources that already exist for this species—the general principles developed here could be applied and extended to many other species and ecosystems.
Kordas R, Pawar S, Woodward G, et al., 2021, Metabolic plasticity can amplify ecosystem responses to global warming
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title> <jats:p>Organisms have the capacity to alter their physiological response to warming through acclimation or adaptation, but empirical evidence for this metabolic plasticity across species within food webs is lacking, and a generalisable framework does not exist for modelling its ecosystem-level consequences. Here we show that the ability of organisms to raise their metabolic rate following chronic exposure to warming decreases with increasing body size. Chronic exposure to higher temperatures also increases the sensitivity of organisms to short-term warming, irrespective of their body size. A mathematical model parameterised with these findings shows that metabolic plasticity could account for an additional 60% of ecosystem energy flux with just +2 °C of warming. This could explain why ecosystem respiration continues to rise in long-term warming experiments and highlights the need to embed metabolic plasticity in predictive models of global warming impacts on ecosystems.</jats:p>
Jackson MC, Pawar S, Woodward G, 2021, The temporal dynamics of multiple stressor effects: from individuals to ecosystems, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Vol: 36, Pages: 402-410, ISSN: 0169-5347
Multiple stressors, such as warming and invasions, often occur together and have nonadditive effects. Most studies to date assume that stressors operate in perfect synchrony, but this will rarely be the case in reality. Stressor sequence and overlap will have implications for ecological memory - the ability of past stressors to influence future responses. Moreover, stressors are usually defined in an anthropocentric context: what we consider a short-term stressor, such as a flood, will span multiple generations of microbes. We argue that to predict responses to multiple stressors from individuals to the whole ecosystem, it is necessary to consider metabolic rates, which determine the timescales at which individuals operate and therefore, ultimately, the ecological memory at different levels of ecological organization.
Barneche DR, Hulatt CJ, Dossena M, et al., 2021, Warming impairs trophic transfer efficiency in a long-term field experiment, NATURE, Vol: 592, Pages: 76-+, ISSN: 0028-0836
Barneche D, Hulatt CJ, Dossena M, et al., 2021, dbarneche/nature20200508666: Accepted version of paper data and code of manuscript: Warming impairs trophic transfer efficiency in a long-term field experiment (Nature)
Barneche DR, Hulatt CJ, Dossena M, Padfield D, Woodward G, Trimmer M, Yvon-Durocher G, Warming impairs trophic transfer efficiency in a long-term field experiment. Nature (accepted on 2021-02-11), DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03352-2.
Gray C, Ma A, McLaughlin O, et al., 2021, Ecological plasticity governs ecosystem services in multilayer networks, Communications Biology, Vol: 4, Pages: 1-7, ISSN: 2399-3642
Agriculture is under pressure to achieve sustainable development goals for biodiversity and ecosystem services. Services in agro-ecosystems are typically driven by key species, and changes in the community composition and species abundance can have multifaceted effects. Assessment of individual services overlooks co-variance between different, but related, services coupled by a common group of species. This partial view ignores how effects propagate through an ecosystem. We conduct an analysis of 374 agricultural multilayer networks of two related services of weed seed regulation and gastropod mollusc predation delivered by carabid beetles. We found that weed seed regulation increased with the herbivore predation interaction frequency, computed from the network of trophic links between carabids and weed seeds in the herbivore layer. Weed seed regulation and herbivore interaction frequencies declined as the interaction frequencies between carabids and molluscs in the carnivore layer increased. This suggests that carabids can switch to gastropod predation with community change, and that link turnover rewires the herbivore and carnivore network layers affecting seed regulation. Our study reveals that ecosystem services are governed by ecological plasticity in structurally complex, multi-layer networks. Sustainable management therefore needs to go beyond the autecological approaches to ecosystem services that predominate, particularly in agriculture.
Classical biomonitoring techniques have focused primarily on measures linked to various biodiversity metrics and indicator species. Next-generation biomonitoring (NGB) describes a suite of tools and approaches that allow the examination of a broader spectrum of organizational levels—from genes to entire ecosystems. Here, we frame 10 key questions that we envisage will drive the field of NGB over the next decade. While not exhaustive, this list covers most of the key challenges facing NGB, and provides the basis of the next steps for research and implementation in this field. These questions have been grouped into current- and outlook-related categories, corresponding to the organization of this paper.
Archer LC, Sohistroem EH, Gallo B, et al., 2019, Consistent temperature dependence of functional response parameters and their use in predicting population abundance, Journal of Animal Ecology, Vol: 88, Pages: 1670-1683, ISSN: 0021-8790
Global warming is one of the greatest threats to the persistence of populations: increased metabolic demands should strengthen pairwise species interactions, which could destabilize food webs at the higher organizational levels. Quantifying the temperature dependence of consumer–resource interactions is thus essential for predicting ecological responses to warming.We explored feeding interactions between different predator–prey pairs in controlled‐temperature chambers and in a system of naturally heated streams. We found consistent temperature dependence of attack rates across experimental settings, though the magnitude and activation energy of attack rate were specific to each predator, which varied in mobility and foraging mode.We used these parameters along with metabolic rate measurements to estimate energetic efficiency and population abundance with warming. Energetic efficiency accurately estimated field abundance of a mobile predator that struggled to meet its metabolic demands, but was a poor predictor for a sedentary predator that operated well below its energetic limits. Temperature effects on population abundance may thus be strongly dependent on whether organisms are regulated by their own energy intake or interspecific interactions.Given the widespread use of functional response parameters in ecological modelling, reconciling outcomes from laboratory and field studies increases the confidence and precision with which we can predict warming impacts on natural systems.
O'Gorman EJ, Petchey OL, Faulkner KJ, et al., 2019, A simple model predicts how warming simplifies wild food webs, Nature Climate Change, Vol: 9, Pages: 611-616, ISSN: 1758-678X
Warming increases the metabolic demand of consumers1, strengthening their feeding interactions2. This could alter energy fluxes3,4,5 and even amplify extinction rates within the food web6,7,8. Such effects could simplify the structure and dynamics of ecological networks9,10, although an empirical test in natural systems has been lacking. Here, we tested this hypothesis by characterizing around 50,000 directly observed feeding interactions across 14 naturally heated stream ecosystems11,12,13,14,15. We found that higher temperature simplified food-web structure and shortened the pathways of energy flux between consumers and resources. A simple allometric diet breadth model10,16 predicted 68–82% of feeding interactions and the effects of warming on key food-web properties. We used model simulations to identify the underlying mechanism as a change in the relative diversity and abundance of consumers and their resources. This model shows how warming can reduce the stability of aquatic ecosystems by eroding the structural integrity of the food web. Given these fundamental drivers, such responses are expected to be manifested more broadly and could be predicted using our modelling framework and knowledge of how warming alters some routinely measured characteristics of organisms.
Brose U, Archambault P, Barnes AD, et al., 2019, Predator traits determine food-web architecture across ecosystems, Nature Ecology and Evolution, Vol: 3, Pages: 919-927, ISSN: 2397-334X
Predator–prey interactions in natural ecosystems generate complex food webs that have a simple universal body-size architecture where predators are systematically larger than their prey. Food-web theory shows that the highest predator–prey body-mass ratios found in natural food webs may be especially important because they create weak interactions with slow dynamics that stabilize communities against perturbations and maintain ecosystem functioning. Identifying these vital interactions in real communities typically requires arduous identification of interactions in complex food webs. Here, we overcome this obstacle by developing predator-trait models to predict average body-mass ratios based on a database comprising 290 food webs from freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems across all continents. We analysed how species traits constrain body-size architecture by changing the slope of the predator–prey body-mass scaling. Across ecosystems, we found high body-mass ratios for predator groups with specific trait combinations including (1) small vertebrates and (2) large swimming or flying predators. Including the metabolic and movement types of predators increased the accuracy of predicting which species are engaged in high body-mass ratio interactions. We demonstrate that species traits explain striking patterns in the body-size architecture of natural food webs that underpin the stability and functioning of ecosystems, paving the way for community-level management of the most complex natural ecosystems.
Patrick CJ, McGarvey DJ, Larson JH, et al., 2019, Precipitation and temperature drive continental-scale patterns in stream invertebrate production, Science Advances, Vol: 5, Pages: eaav2348-eaav2348, ISSN: 2375-2548
Secondary production, the growth of new heterotrophic biomass, is a key process in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems that has been carefully measured in many flowing water ecosystems. We combine structural equation modeling with the first worldwide dataset on annual secondary production of stream invertebrate communities to reveal core pathways linking air temperature and precipitation to secondary production. In the United States, where the most extensive set of secondary production estimates and covariate data were available, we show that precipitation-mediated, low-stream flow events have a strong negative effect on secondary production. At larger scales (United States, Europe, Central America, and Pacific), we demonstrate the significance of a positive two-step pathway from air to water temperature to increasing secondary production. Our results provide insights into the potential effects of climate change on secondary production and demonstrate a modeling framework that can be applied across ecosystems.
Aspin TWH, Hart K, Khamis K, et al., 2019, Drought intensification alters the composition, body size, and trophic structure of invertebrate assemblages in a stream mesocosm experiment, Freshwater Biology, Vol: 64, Pages: 750-760, ISSN: 0046-5070
Predicted trends towards more intense droughts are of particular significance for running water ecosystems, as the loss of critical stream habitat can provoke sudden changes in biodiversity and shifts in community structure. However, analysing ecological responses to the progressive loss of stream habitat requires a continuous disturbance gradient that can only be generated through large‐scale manipulations of streamflow.In the first experiment of its kind, we used large artificial stream channels (mesocosms) as analogues of spring‐fed headwaters and simulated a gradient of drought intensity that encompassed flowing streams, disconnected pools, and dry streambeds. We used breakpoint analysis to analyse macroinvertebrate community responses to intensifying drought, and identify the taxa and compositional metrics sensitive to small changes in drought stress.We detected breakpoints for >60% of taxa, signalling sudden population crashes or irruptions as drought intensified. Abrupt changes were most pronounced where riffle dewatering isolated pools. In the remnant wetted habitat, we observed a shift to larger body sizes across the community, primarily driven by irruptions of predatory midge larvae and coincident population collapses among prey species (worms and smaller midges).Our results suggest that intense predation in confined, fragmented stream habitat can lead to unexpected changes in body sizes, challenging the conventional wisdom that droughts favour the small. Pool fragmentation might thus be the most critical stage of habitat loss during future droughts, as the point at which impacted rivers and streams begin to exhibit major shifts in fundamental food web properties.
Sampson A, Ings N, Shelley F, et al., 2019, Geographically widespread C-13-depletion of grazing caddis larvae: A third way of fuelling stream food webs?, FRESHWATER BIOLOGY, Vol: 64, Pages: 787-798, ISSN: 0046-5070
Ma A, Lu X, Gray C, et al., 2019, Ecological networks reveal resilience of agro-ecosystems to changes in farming management, NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION, Vol: 3, Pages: 260-+, ISSN: 2397-334X
Tiegs SD, Costello DM, Isken MW, et al., 2019, Global patterns and drivers of ecosystem functioning in rivers and riparian zones, Science Advances, Vol: 5, ISSN: 2375-2548
River ecosystems receive and process vast quantities of terrestrial organic carbon, the fate of which depends strongly on microbial activity. Variation in and controls of processing rates, however, are poorly characterized at the global scale. In response, we used a peer-sourced research network and a highly standardized carbon processing assay to conduct a global-scale field experiment in greater than 1000 river and riparian sites. We found that Earth’s biomes have distinct carbon processing signatures. Slow processing is evident across latitudes, whereas rapid rates are restricted to lower latitudes. Both the mean rate and variability decline with latitude, suggesting temperature constraints toward the poles and greater roles for other environmental drivers (e.g., nutrient loading) toward the equator. These results and data set the stage for unprecedented “next-generation biomonitoring” by establishing baselines to help quantify environmental impacts to the functioning of ecosystems at a global scale.
Aspin TWH, Khamis K, Matthews TJ, et al., 2019, Extreme drought pushes stream invertebrate communities over functional thresholds, Global Change Biology, Vol: 25, Pages: 230-244, ISSN: 1354-1013
Functional traits are increasingly being used to predict extinction risks and range shifts under long‐term climate change scenarios, but have rarely been used to study vulnerability to extreme climatic events, such as supraseasonal droughts. In streams, drought intensification can cross thresholds of habitat loss, where marginal changes in environmental conditions trigger disproportionate biotic responses. However, these thresholds have been studied only from a structural perspective, and the existence of functional nonlinearity remains unknown. We explored trends in invertebrate community functional traits along a gradient of drought intensity, simulated over 18 months, using mesocosms analogous to lowland headwater streams. We modelled the responses of 16 traits based on a priori predictions of trait filtering by drought, and also examined the responses of trait profile groups (TPGs) identified via hierarchical cluster analysis. As responses to drought intensification were both linear and nonlinear, generalized additive models (GAMs) were chosen to model response curves, with the slopes of fitted splines used to detect functional thresholds during drought. Drought triggered significant responses in 12 (75%) of the a priori‐selected traits. Behavioural traits describing movement (dispersal, locomotion) and diet were sensitive to moderate‐intensity drought, as channels fragmented into isolated pools. By comparison, morphological and physiological traits showed little response until surface water was lost, at which point we observed sudden shifts in body size, respiration mode and thermal tolerance. Responses varied widely among TPGs, ranging from population collapses of non‐aerial dispersers as channels fragmented to irruptions of small, eurythermic dietary generalists upon extreme dewatering. Our study demonstrates for the first time that relatively small changes in drought intensity can trigger disproportionately large functional shifts in stream communities, sugg
Perkins DM, Durance I, Edwards FK, et al., 2018, Bending the rules: exploitation of allochthonous resources by a top-predator modifies size-abundance scaling in stream food webs, Ecology Letters, Vol: 21, Pages: 1771-1780, ISSN: 1461-023X
Body mass–abundance (M‐N) allometries provide a key measure of community structure, and deviations from scaling predictions could reveal how cross‐ecosystem subsidies alter food webs. For 31 streams across the UK, we tested the hypothesis that linear log‐log M‐N scaling is shallower than that predicted by allometric scaling theory when top predators have access to allochthonous prey. These streams all contained a common and widespread top predator (brown trout) that regularly feeds on terrestrial prey and, as hypothesised, deviations from predicted scaling increased with its dominance of the fish assemblage. Our study identifies a key beneficiary of cross‐ecosystem subsidies at the top of stream food webs and elucidates how these inputs can reshape the size‐structure of these ‘open’ systems.
Isaac NJB, Brotherton PNM, Bullock JM, et al., 2018, Defining and delivering resilient ecological networks: Nature conservation in England, JOURNAL OF APPLIED ECOLOGY, Vol: 55, Pages: 2537-2543, ISSN: 0021-8901
Woodward G, 2018, Bending the rules: exploitation of allochthonous resources by atop-predator modiﬁes size-abundance scaling in stream foodwebs, Ecology Letters, ISSN: 1461-023X
Thompson MSA, Brooks SJ, Sayer CD, et al., 2018, Large woody debris "rewilding" rapidly restores biodiversity in riverine food webs, JOURNAL OF APPLIED ECOLOGY, Vol: 55, Pages: 895-904, ISSN: 0021-8901
This data is extracted from the Web of Science and reproduced under a licence from Thomson Reuters. You may not copy or re-distribute this data in whole or in part without the written consent of the Science business of Thomson Reuters.