Climate–land-use interactions shape tropical mountain biodiversity and ecosystem functions

Peters, Marcell K.; Hemp, Andreas; Appelhans, Tim; Becker, Joscha N.; Behler, Christina; Classen, Alice; Detsch, Florian; Ensslin, Andreas; Ferger, Stefan W.; Frederiksen, Sara B.; Gebert, Friederike; Gerschlauer, Friederike; Gütlein, Adrian; Helbig-Bonitz, Maria; Hemp, Claudia; Kindeketa, William J.; Kühnel, Anna; Mayr, Antonia V.; Mwangomo, Ephraim; Ngereza, Christine; ... (2019). Climate–land-use interactions shape tropical mountain biodiversity and ecosystem functions. Nature, 568(7750), pp. 88-92. Macmillan Journals Ltd. 10.1038/s41586-019-1048-z

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Agriculture and the exploitation of natural resources have transformed tropical mountain ecosystems across the world, and the consequences of these transformations for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning are largely unknown 1–3 . Conclusions that are derived from studies in non-mountainous areas are not suitable for predicting the effects of land-use changes on tropical mountains because the climatic environment rapidly changes with elevation, which may mitigate or amplify the effects of land use 4,5 . It is of key importance to understand how the interplay of climate and land use constrains biodiversity and ecosystem functions to determine the consequences of global change for mountain ecosystems. Here we show that the interacting effects of climate and land use reshape elevational trends in biodiversity and ecosystem functions on Africa’s largest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania). We find that increasing land-use intensity causes larger losses of plant and animal species richness in the arid lowlands than in humid submontane and montane zones. Increases in land-use intensity are associated with significant changes in the composition of plant, animal and microorganism communities; stronger modifications of plant and animal communities occur in arid and humid ecosystems, respectively. Temperature, precipitation and land use jointly modulate soil properties, nutrient turnover, greenhouse gas emissions, plant biomass and productivity, as well as animal interactions. Our data suggest that the response of ecosystem functions to land-use intensity depends strongly on climate; more-severe changes in ecosystem functioning occur in the arid lowlands and the cold montane zone. Interactions between climate and land use explained—on average—54% of the variation in species richness, species composition and ecosystem functions, whereas only 30% of variation was related to single drivers. Our study reveals that climate can modulate the effects of land use on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and points to a lowered resistance of ecosystems in climatically challenging environments to ongoing land-use changes in tropical mountainous regions.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Ensslin, Andreas; Renner, Marion Elisabeth; Rutten, Gemma Gerarda Petronella and Fischer, Markus

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0028-0836

Publisher:

Macmillan Journals Ltd.

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

09 May 2019 17:17

Last Modified:

09 May 2019 17:17

Publisher DOI:

10.1038/s41586-019-1048-z

PubMed ID:

30918402

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.130079

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/130079

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