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January American Naturalist highlights
Date:1/4/2008

ts. In order to study the consequences of the liberation of such compounds on competitive interactions between plants, Raynaud and his colleagues have developed a new model that simulates the release of these compounds and the uptake of nutrients by plants at the scale of individual roots. "Our model emphasizes the importance of soil water in determining the mobility of nutrients in the soil and therefore which plants will be able to get them," states Xavier Raynaud. "Roots behave essentially as independent units in dry soils, so plants interact primarily through the number of roots they make. However, in wet soils, plants can strongly influence their neighbors by releasing exudates from their roots or by rapidly taking up nutrients. We hope that this model will help unify divergent views of plant competition by providing a more comprehensive view of the mechanisms controlling nutrient fluxes in the soil."


"Nontrophic interactions, biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning: an interaction web model"
Alexandra Goudard (Ecole Normale Suprieure and Universit Pierre et Marie Curie) and Michel Loreau (McGill University)

Most ecological theories deal with simple consumerresource interactions. Scientists at Ecole Normale Suprieure (Paris) and McGill University provide a novel approach to incorporate nontrophic interactions, such as pollination and habitat modification, in ecosystem models, which allows them to study the dynamics of complex interaction webs.

Their model adds nontrophic interactions to a food web in the form of modifications of trophic interactions. It also tracks nutrient fluxes in the food web and hence satisfies the principle of mass conservation. Using this model, they show that nontrophic interactions can profoundly influence ecosystem properties such as species diversity, biomass, and production. In turn, the nature, prevalence, and strength of species interactions depend on species diversity. Counteri
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Contact: Rudy Faust
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University of Chicago Press Journals
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