Ecological Research


    Vol. 32 (2017)
    No. submitted articles: 536
    No. accepted articles: 126


    Current issue
    (vol. 33, issue 1)
    Days for acceptance:
    148 (41–272)
    Days for online-first:
    177 (56–296)
    Days for publication:
    227 (111–355)


  • Citizen science: a new approach to advance ecology, education, and conservation

    Hiromi Kobori, Janis L. Dickinson, Izumi Washitani, Ryo Sakurai, Tatsuya Amano, Naoya Komatsu, Wataru Kitamura, Shinichi Takagawa, Kazuo Koyama, Takao Ogawara, A. J. Miller-Rushing

    Ecological Research vol.31, No. 1 pp. 1–19

    Keywords: Citizen science; History; Human-natural system; Web-based approach; Worldwide case studies

    Abstract Citizen science has a long history in the ecological sciences and has made substantial contributions to science, education, and society. Developments in information technology during the last few decades have created new opportunities for citizen science to engage ever larger audiences of volunteers to help address some of ecology’s most pressing issues, such as global environmental change. Using online tools, volunteers can find projects that match their interests and learn the skills and protocols required to develop questions, collect data, submit data, and help process and analyze data online. Citizen science has become increasingly important for its ability to engage large numbers of volunteers to generate observations at scales or resolutions unattainable by individual researchers. As a coupled natural and human approach, citizen science can also help researchers access local knowledge and implement conservation projects that might be impossible otherwise. In Japan, however, the value of citizen science to science and society is still underappreciated. Here we present case studies of citizen science in Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom, and describe how citizen science is used to tackle key questions in ecology and conservation, including spatial and macro-ecology, management of threatened and invasive species, and monitoring of biodiversity. We also discuss the importance of data quality, volunteer recruitment, program evaluation, and the integration of science and human systems in citizen science projects. Finally, we outline some of the primary challenges facing citizen science and its future.

  • Long-term, climate-change-related shifts in feeding frequencies of a Mediterranean snake population

    Massimo Capula, Lorenzo Rugiero, Dario Capizzi, Daniel Franco, Giuliano Milana, Luca Luiselli

    Ecological Research vol.31, No. 1 pp. 49–55

    Keywords: Diversity-of-prey index; Percent of fed animals; Global warming; Mediterranean; Serpentes

    Abstract In a context of climate change, ecological and physiological adaptations of organisms are of central importance for determining the outcome of niche challenges (e.g., with potential competitors) and species persistence. Typically, long-term data on free-ranging populations are needed to investigate such phenomena. Here, long-term data on a free-ranging population of western whip snakes (Hierophis viridiflavus: Colubridae) from central Italy were used in order to test the hypothesis that snake feeding frequencies should increase in relation to climate warming, thus positively affecting individual performance because of longer annual activity period, increased daily activity and larger prey base. Data from 231 ‘female snake-years’ of records (including inter-annual recaptures) were collected were collected between 1990 and 2014. The frequency of fed snakes varied remarkably across the study period with a significant increase over the years. There was a significant positive effect of the mean annual temperature on the percentage of fed animals, whereas there was a non-significant relationship between yearly rainfall and percentage of fed animals. There was a positive relationship between mean annual temperature and yearly diversity-of-prey index. No other climatic variables were significantly correlated with yearly diversity-of-prey index. This study supported the hypothesis that global warming may be favorable for thermophilic species (such as H. viridiflavus), as it enhances their foraging performances and hence their feeding frequencies. The same may not be necessarily true for other species which have colder preferenda (e.g., Zamenis longissimus).

  • Effects of converting natural forests to coniferous plantations on fruit and seed production and mating patterns in wild cherry trees

    Teruyoshi Nagamitsu, Kato Shuri, Hisatomo Taki, Satoshi Kikuchi, Takashi Masaki

    Ecological Research vol.31, No. 2 pp. 239–250

    Keywords: Biparental inbreeding; Forest fragmentation; Habitat loss; Outcrossing rate; Pollen donor diversity

    Abstract Landscape disturbances can affect reproductive performance of animal-pollinated trees. We verified the effects of the loss and fragmentation of natural forests caused by the creation of coniferous plantations on fruit and seed production as well as mating patterns of animal-pollinated trees. We investigated 146 and 134 individual flowering trees of Prunus verecunda (Koidz.) Koehne in 2012 and 2013, respectively, at 12 sites. These sites were at least 1.2 km apart from each other in an 8 × 15-km forestry region, and the composition and configuration of natural forests varied in the study area. The mean outcrossing rate was >0.99 across the sites. Among trees within the sites, the number of fruits per inflorescence was positively correlated with the basal stem area and leaf chlorophyll density of the trees. Among the sites, the mean number of fruits per inflorescence was positively correlated with the site elevation, and the correlated paternity was positively correlated with the mean distance between trees. The sound-seed rate was positively correlated with the natural-forest area among the sites. These results suggest that environments and resources of trees influence their fruit production, that a loss of natural forests increases in embryo mortality, and that a reduction in tree density decreases pollen donor diversity in P. verecunda. Thus, a landscape disturbance may decrease seed production, whereas outbreeding is maintained, and fruit production is not likely to be dependent on the landscape disturbance in this species.

  • Photosynthesis and primary production in Lake Kasumigaura (Japan) monitored monthly since 1981

    Noriko Takamura, Megumi Nakagawa

    Ecological Research vol.31, No. 3 pp. 287

    Keywords: Phytoplankton; Chlorophyll a; Carbon fixation with 13C; Primary production; Photosynthesis vs. irradiance (P vs. E) curve; Maximum photosynthesis rate; Shallow and eutrophic lake; Lake Kasumigaura; Long-term Ecological Research (LTER); Ecosystem function

    Abstract This study reports the primary production of phytoplankton determined with a 13C tracer, and their related variables, in Lake Kasumigaura, a shallow, hyper-eutrophic lake, and the second largest lake in Japan. Measurements were conducted monthly from August 1981 to December 2013 at four stations within the lake. Monitoring was a component of the Lake Kasumigaura Long-term Environmental Monitoring program, conducted by the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) since 1977. The program collects data on water quality, and plankton and benthic communities. Lake Kasumigaura is registered as a core site of the Japan Long-term Ecological Research Network (JaLTER), which is a member of the International Long-term Ecological Research Network (ILTER). This dataset includes daily primary production (Pzd gC m−2 d−1) and the six parameters required to calculate Pzd: maximum photosynthesis rate (P max gC gC−1 h−1); light irradiance at the junction of the initial slope (α (gC gC−1 h−1) (μmol photon m−2 s−1)−1) and P max of the photosynthesis vs. irradiance (P vs. E) curve (E k μmol photon m−2 s−1); attenuation coefficient of photosynthetically available radiation (PAR) (K PAR m−1); water depth at each sampling station (Z b , m); dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC mgC L−1) and particulate organic carbon concentrations (POC gC m−3); and chlorophyll a amounts (Chl.a μg L−1). Daily primary production was calculated by obtaining a P vs. E curve over a short-term incubation (approximately 1 h) in a water tank using in situ water temperature in the laboratory, based on the field conditions of the sampling date. The dataset has been used for ecological studies as well as for management studies on water quality and ecosystems. This dataset is unique among the available published papers concerning lakes or primary production in various ecosystems, collected over a long period of time and freely available.

  • Deer herbivory affects the functional diversity of forest floor plants via changes in competition-mediated assembly rules

    Keita Nishizawa, Shinichi Tatsumi, Ryo Kitagawa, Akira S. Mori

    Ecological Research vol.31, No. 4 pp. 569–578

    Keywords: Biodiversity; Community assembly; Deer herbivory; Exclosure fence; Functional diversity

    Abstract Distorted plant diversity patterns due to ungulate herbivory could be explained by changes in community assembly processes, but the effects of ungulate herbivory on plant community assembly remain unclear. Here, we examined the role of deer herbivory in the regulation of the assembly processes of a forest floor plant community by assessing species and functional diversity in over- and no-grazing plots (control and exclosure plots, respectively) in Shiretoko National Park in Japan. Compared with the exclosure plot, vegetation coverage was considerably lower, and species richness and diversity were higher in the control plot. Functional traits associated with competitive ability (leaf area and chlorophyll content) were significantly higher in the exclosure plot. The pattern of functional diversity changed from overdispersion to clustering with an increase in local crowdedness. This trait clustering indicates that the local communities that were free from ungulate disturbance gradually became dominated by some competitively superior plant species, which led to low species diversity and biotic homogenization. In contrast, the reduction in vegetation due to overgrazing by deer resulted in an increase in the relative importance of stochastic assembly processes, which enabled the coexistence of various species, including less competitive ones. Our results emphasize that although deer overabundance is of concern, their complete exclusion has a negative consequence from an ecological perspective. Because deer herbivory is an inherent process that affects the biodiversity of plants on the forest floor, the establishment of fences requires careful consideration to ensure the conservation of ecological processes and their associated biodiversity.