Group highlights

(For a full list of publications, see Google Scholar)

Termites are key drivers of short-term deadwood decay in Neotropical Cerrado across vegetation types

In this study, we evaluated the relation between local-scale variation in plant community structure with the decay rates of deadwood and the relative importance of biotic and abiotic decay agents in deadwood decay in Neotropical Cerrado. Across sites, we found termites and microbes decomposed wood twice as fast as microbes alone, while solar radiation was not a strong driver of deadwood decay in our sites. Additionally, local-scale variation in plant community structure affected deadwood decay, as decay rates and frequency of wood blocks discovered by termites were lower in woodlands than in grasslands and savannas.

André M. D`Angioli, Amy E. Zanne, Reginaldo Constantino, Larissa S. Verona, Rafael S. Oliveira

Austral Ecology (2024)

Drivers of wood decay in tropical ecosystems: Termites versus microbes along spatial, temporal and experimental precipitation gradients

Here, we investigated the relative roles of microbes and termites in wood decomposition across precipitation gradients in space, time and with a simulated drought experiment in tropical Australia. Consistent with expectations, microbial-mediated wood decomposition was slowest in dry savanna sites, dry seasons and simulated drought conditions. Taken together, we found that spatial and seasonal variation in precipitation is important in shaping wood decomposition rates as driven by termites and microbes, although these different gradients do not equally impact decomposition agents.

Baptiste J. Wijas, Habacuc Flores-Moreno, Steven D. Allison, Luciana Chavez Rodriguez, Alexander W. Cheesman, Lucas A. Cernusak, Rebecca Clement, Will K. Cornwell, Elizabeth S. Duan, Paul Eggleton, Marc V. Rosenfield, Abbey R. Yatsko, Amy E. Zanne

Functional Ecology (2024)

Shifts in internal stem damage along a tropical precipitation gradient and implications for forest biomass estimation

We investigated internal stem damage across five sites in tropical Australia along a precipitation gradient. We estimated the amount of internal aboveground biomass damaged in living trees and measured four potential stem damage predictors. Stem damage increased with increasing diameter, wood density, and termite pressure and decreased with increasing precipitation. High wood density stems sustained less damage in wet sites and more damage in dry sites, likely a result of shifting decomposer communities and their differing responses to changes in tree species and wood traits across sites.

Habacuc Flores-Moreno, Abbey R. Yatsko, Alexander W. Cheesman, Steven D. Allison, Lucas A. Cernusak, Rose Cheney, Rebecca Clement, Wendy Cooper, Paul Eggleton, Rigel Jensen, Marc Rosenfield, Amy E. Zanne

New Phytologist (2024)

Wood traits explain microbial but not termite-driven decay in Australian tropical rainforest and savanna

Ecosystem-scale predictions of deadwood turnover and carbon storage should account for the impact of wood traits on decomposer communities. In tropical Australia, termite-driven decay was lower than expected for native wood on the ground. Even if termites are present, they may not always increase decomposition rates of fallen native wood in tropical forests. Our study shows how the drivers of wood decay differ between Australian tropical rainforest and savanna; further research should test whether such differences apply world-wide.

Stephanie Law, Habacuc Flores-Moreno, Alexander W. Cheesman, Rebecca Clement, Marc Rosenfield, Abbey Yatsko, Lucas A. Cernusak, James W. Dalling, Thomas Canam, Isra Abo Iqsaysa, Elizabeth S. Duan, Steven D. Allison, Paul Eggleton, Amy E. Zanne

Journal of Ecology (2023)

Beyond the usual climate? Factors determining flowering and fruiting phenology across a genus over 117 years

Although changes in plant phenology are largely attributed to changes in climate, the roles of other factors such as genetic constraints, competition, and self-compatibility are underexplored. Spring precipitation and other climate-related factors were dominant predictors of phenological variance. Our results emphasize the strong effect of precipitation on phenology, especially in the moisture-limited habitats preferred by Leavenworthia. Among the many factors that determine phenology, climate is the dominant influence, indicating that the effects of climate change on phenology are expected to increase.

Kelsey B. Bartlett, Matthew W. Austin, James B. Beck, Amy E. Zanne, Adam B. Smith

American Journal of Botany (2023)

Symbiotic status alters fungal eco-evolutionary offspring trajectories

Despite host-fungal symbiotic interactions being ubiquitous in all ecosystems, understanding how symbiosis has shaped the ecology and evolution of fungal spores that are involved in dispersal and colonization of their hosts has been ignored in life-history studies. In this study, symbiotic status explained more variation than climatic variables in the current distribution of spore sizes of plant-associated fungi at a global scale while the dispersal potential of their spores is more restricted compared to free-living fungi. Our work advances life-history theory by highlighting how the interaction between symbiosis and offspring morphology shapes the reproductive and dispersal strategies among living forms.

Carlos A. Aguilar- Trigueros, Franz-Sebastian Krah, William K. Cornwell, Amy E. Zanne, et al.

Ecology Letters (2023)

Termite sensitivity to temperature affects global wood decay rates

Decomposition rates vary with temperature and precipitation, in part because of the effects of climate on decomposer organisms. Although microbes are widely recognized as decomposers, animals such as insects also play a key role in tropical systems. This global study quantifies climate-related variation in wood decomposition by both microbes and termites. Climate influenced both microbial and termite decomposition, but termite presence and activity were more sensitive to temperature. Termites may thus play a larger role in global wood decomposition as the climate warms.

Amy E. Zanne, Habacuc Flores-Moreno, Jeff R. Powell, William K. Cornwell, et al.

Science (2022)

Wood construction more strongly shapes deadwood microbial communities than spatial location over 5 years of decay

Microbial community structure varied more strongly with wood traits than with spatial locations, mirroring the relative role of these factors on decay rates on the same pieces of wood even after 5 years. Co‐occurring fungal and bacterial communities persistently influenced one another independently from their shared environmental conditions.

Marissa R. Lee, Brad Oberle, Wendy Olivas, Darcy F. Young, Amy E. Zanne

Environmental Microbiology (2020)

Set ambitious goals for biodiversity and sustainability

In response to the goals proposed in the draft post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) made public by the CBD, we urge negotiators to consider three points that are critical if the agreed goals are to stabilize or reverse nature’s decline.

S Díaz, N Zafra-Calvo, A Purvis, PH Verburg, D Obura, P Leadley, R Chaplin-Kramer, L De Meester, E Dulloo, B Martín-López, MR Shaw, P Visconti, W Broadgate, MW Bruford, ND Burgess, J Cavender-Bares, F DeClerck, JM Fernández-Palacios, LA Garibaldi, SLL Hill, F Isbell, CK Khoury, CB Krug, J Liu, M Maron, PJK McGowan, HM Pereira, V Reyes-García, J Rocha, C Rondinini, L Shannon, YJ Shin, PVR Snelgrove, EM Spehn, B Strassburg, SM Subramanian, JJ Tewksbury, JEM Watson, AE Zanne

Science (2020)

Leaf traits can be used to predict rates of litter decomposition

We decomposed green leaves and naturally senesced leaf litter of nine species representing a wide range of leaf functional traits. We evaluated the ability of traits associated with leaf and litter physiology, N biochemistry and carbon quality to predict litter decomposition.

Marc V. Rosenfield, Jason K. Keller, Catrina Clausen, Kimberlee Cyphers, Jennifer L. Funk

Oikos (2019)

Functional biogeography of angiosperms: life at the extremes

To understand linear and nonlinear relationships between angiosperm structure and biogeographic distributions, we integrated large datasets of growth habits, conduit sizes, leaf phenologies, evolutionary histories, and environmental limits.

Amy E. Zanne, William D. Pearse, William K. Cornwell, Daniel J. McGlinn, Ian J. Wright, Josef C. Uyeda

New Phytologist (2018)

Dissecting the Effects of Diameter on Wood Decay Emphasizes the Importance of Cross-Stem Conductivity in Fraxinus americana

We implemented a three-way factorial experiment in Fraxinus americana, (white ash), an iconic North American species threatened by an invasive beetle.

Brad Oberle, Kristofer R. Covey, Kevin M. Dunham, Edgar J. Hernandez, Maranda L. Walton, Darcy F. Young, Amy E. Zanne

Ecosystems (2018)

Towards a worldwide wood economics spectrum

To draw together our current understanding of wood function, we identify and collate data on the major wood functional traits, including the largest wood density database to date (8412 taxa), mechanical strength measures and anatomical features, as well as clade‐specific features such as secondary chemistry.

Jerome Chave, David Coomes, Steven Jansen, Simon L. Lewis, Nathan G. Swenson, Amy E. Zanne

Ecology Letters (2009)