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- ItemAssessment of multiple model algorithms to predict earthworm geographic distribution range and biodiversity in Germany: implications for soil-monitoring and species-conservation needs(Springer Nature, 2023-04-19) Salako, Gabriel; Russell, David J.; Stucke, Andres; Eberhardt, EinarIdentifying the potential distribution of soil-biodiversity with its density and richness relationships, including constituent species, is a pre-requisite for the assessment, conservation and protection of soil biodiversity and the soil functions it drives. Although the role of earthworms in improving soil quality has long been established, to quantitatively and spatially assess how this soil-animal group’s distribution changes along environmental gradients and geographic space and the identification of the drivers of such change has not been fully investigated. This comprehensive study aimed at modelling and mapping earthworm spatial distribution and diversity patterns to determine their conservation needs and provide baseline reference data for Germany. The study compared multiple modelling algorithms to map earthworm community parameters and 12 species-specific distribution probabilities, calculate their geographic range sizes and determine responses to environmental predictor variables. Three general patterns of spatial distribution ranges were identified by the model predictions (large-range, mid-range, and restricted-range species) with the corresponding environmental contributions to the predictions. Modelled species responses to environmental predictors confirm observed environmental drivers of earthworm distribution in Germany. The range classes based both on distributional level and geographic space provide the necessary information for identifying conservation and decision-making priorities, especially for restricted-distribution species as well as those with clearly defined habitat preferences.
- ItemLight competition drives herbivore and nutrient effects on plant diversity(Springer Nature, 2022-11-02) Eskelinen, Anu; Harpole, W. Stanley; Jessen, Maria-Theresa; Virtanen, Risto; Hautier, YannEnrichment of nutrients and loss of herbivores are assumed to cause a loss of plant diversity in grassland ecosystems because they increase plant cover, which leads to a decrease of light in the understory. Empirical tests of the role of competition for light in natural systems are based on indirect evidence, and have been a topic of debate for the last 40 years. Here we show that experimentally restoring light to understory plants in a natural grassland mitigates the loss of plant diversity that is caused by either nutrient enrichment or the absence of mammalian herbivores. The initial effect of light addition on restoring diversity under fertilization was transitory and outweighed by the greater effect of herbivory on light levels, indicating that herbivory is a major factor that controls diversity, partly through light. Our results provide direct experimental evidence, in a natural system, that competition for light is a key mechanism that contributes to the loss of biodiversity after cessation of mammalian herbivory. Our findings also show that the effects of herbivores can outpace the effects of fertilization on competition for light. Management practices that target maintaining grazing by native or domestic herbivores could therefore have applications in protecting biodiversity in grassland ecosystems, because they alleviate competition for light in the understory.
- ItemRemnant habitat patches provide high value for a wide range of insect species in a timber plantation mosaic(2023-03-10) van der Mescht, Aileen; Pryke, James S.; Gaigher, René; Samways, Michael J.Species present in transformed landscapes utilise resources from either the transformed patches, natural patches, or both. Depending on the degree to which species are specialised, species-specific responses to landscape transformation is both varied and dynamic. Understanding species-specific responses across a landscape is therefore essential to make informed conservation decisions. We investigate how spillover of stenotopic, cultural, and ubiquitous insect species respond to the different edge combinations present in a timber plantation mosaic. We use a multi-taxon approach, sampling two distinct insect assemblages (ground and foliage) across four different biotopes in a grassland-forest-plantation landscape in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, which forms part of the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany biodiversity hotspot. We show that in this landscape, ecological networks consisting of natural grassland and forest supported high insect diversity in both ground and foliage assemblages. The foliage assemblage displayed stronger responses to the different biotope combinations than the ground assemblage. There was remarkably little spillover of habitat specialist species of either the ground or foliage assemblages from grassland or forest into the plantation stands. The few species associated with plantation stands (cultural species) had consistent levels of spillover across different types of plantation blocks, but not into the natural areas. Natural biotopes in this landscape conserved many habitat specialists, whereas plantations maintained low levels of diversity. Thus, we recommend that conservation practitioners consider the fidelity and spillover of the species present in the local landscape before designing conservation plans in these dynamic production landscapes.
- ItemRock climbing affects cliff-plant communities by reducing species diversity and altering species coexistence patterns(Springer Nature, 2023-02-25) March-Salas, Martí; Morales-Armijo, Felipe; Hernández-Agüero, Juan Antonio; Estrada-Castillón, Eduardo; Sobrevilla- Covarrubias, Andrea; Arévalo, José Ramón; Scheepens, J. F.; Lorite, JuanCliffs are unique ecosystems with an outstanding but relatively unknown plant diversity, harboring rare, endemic and threatened species, but also rock-specialist or generalist species that can become locally common and dominant on cliffs. The rising popularity of climbing represents an increasing threat to cliff biota, affecting community composition and potentially diminishing diversity and species associations. We used a novel sampling design of closely-paired climbed versus unclimbed points along the cliff-face. We sampled along climbing routes of different climbing intensities in El Potrero Chico (Nuevo León, Mexico), identifying plant species and analyzing species associations and community composition in climbed and unclimbed plots. Diversity on the sampled cliffs was high, even greater than in other regional ecosystems. We found reduced abundance, cover, and diversity in climbed plots, irrespective of climbing intensity. Dominant species on the sampled cliffs were the most negatively affected by rock climbing in terms of abundance, and some locally rare species, including endemics and endangered species, were entirely absent from climbed plots. Co-occurrence analysis showed that the number of associations between pairs of dominant and common species were greatly reduced in climbed plots, and that positive associations between locally rare species existed in unclimbed plots but not in climbed plots, which may contribute to the disappearance of endemic and threatened species. Finally, NMDS analysis revealed that the community composition changed significantly due to climbing. Our results indicate that conservation science should convince stakeholders of the need for a holistic conservation of cliff ecosystems and not focus solely on emblematic or rare species, since plant community dynamics and preservation depend on interactions between plant species.
- ItemThe local populations of the fungus Schizophyllum commune Fr. as drivers of its biodiversity(Sciendo (De Gruyter), 2021-12-11) Boiko, SergiyChanges that occur on the local level can explain the processes on the population level and, at the same time, are the driving force of species adaptation. This manuscript reports data about genetic diversities of the fungus Schizophyllum commune on the level of a local population. Objects of the study were dicarious cultures of S. commune collected from 38 basidiocarps grown on the territory of Holosiivskyi National Nature Park, Lysa Hora Regional Landscape Park and Feofaniya forest parcel (Ukraine). Results showed similarity of genetic variability of S. commune in different local populations. The heterozygote deficiency of some loci that was discovered might have resulted from new forms of allozymes that have not become widespread or due to small population sizes. The degree of differentiation of genes between local studied populations was moderate due to the high flow of genes. The absence of spatial structuration of genotypes is established, and the Mantel test showed a lack of interconnection between the genetic component and the geographical coordinates of the samples. It has been suggested that wind direction and terrain are the factors that influence the genetic structure of local populations.