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1.
Nat Ecol Evol ; 8(4): 705-716, 2024 Apr.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38337048

RESUMO

Megafauna (animals ≥45 kg) have probably shaped the Earth's terrestrial ecosystems for millions of years with pronounced impacts on biogeochemistry, vegetation, ecological communities and evolutionary processes. However, a quantitative global synthesis on the generality of megafauna effects on ecosystems is lacking. Here we conducted a meta-analysis of 297 studies and 5,990 individual observations across six continents to determine how wild herbivorous megafauna influence ecosystem structure, ecological processes and spatial heterogeneity, and whether these impacts depend on body size and environmental factors. Despite large variability in megafauna effects, we show that megafauna significantly alter soil nutrient availability, promote open vegetation structure and reduce the abundance of smaller animals. Other responses (14 out of 26), including, for example, soil carbon, were not significantly affected. Further, megafauna significantly increase ecosystem heterogeneity by affecting spatial heterogeneity in vegetation structure and the abundance and diversity of smaller animals. Given that spatial heterogeneity is considered an important driver of biodiversity across taxonomic groups and scales, these results support the hypothesis that megafauna may promote biodiversity at large scales. Megafauna declined precipitously in diversity and abundance since the late Pleistocene, and our results indicate that their restoration would substantially influence Earth's terrestrial ecosystems.


Assuntos
Ecossistema , Herbivoria , Animais , Biodiversidade , Solo , Evolução Biológica
2.
Science ; 383(6682): 531-537, 2024 Feb 02.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-38301018

RESUMO

Large mammalian herbivores (megafauna) have experienced extinctions and declines since prehistory. Introduced megafauna have partly counteracted these losses yet are thought to have unusually negative effects on plants compared with native megafauna. Using a meta-analysis of 3995 plot-scale plant abundance and diversity responses from 221 studies, we found no evidence that megafauna impacts were shaped by nativeness, "invasiveness," "feralness," coevolutionary history, or functional and phylogenetic novelty. Nor was there evidence that introduced megafauna facilitate introduced plants more than native megafauna. Instead, we found strong evidence that functional traits shaped megafauna impacts, with larger-bodied and bulk-feeding megafauna promoting plant diversity. Our work suggests that trait-based ecology provides better insight into interactions between megafauna and plants than do concepts of nativeness.


Assuntos
Ecossistema , Extinção Biológica , Herbivoria , Espécies Introduzidas , Mamíferos , Plantas , Animais , Ecologia , Herbivoria/fisiologia , Filogenia , Conservação dos Recursos Naturais
3.
New Phytol ; 240(4): 1636-1646, 2023 11.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-37496281

RESUMO

Regions harbouring high unique phylogenetic diversity (PD) are priority targets for conservation. Here, we analyse the global distribution of plant PD, which remains poorly understood despite plants being the foundation of most terrestrial habitats and key to human livelihoods. Capitalising on a recently completed, comprehensive global checklist of vascular plants, we identify hotspots of unique plant PD and test three hypotheses: (1) PD is more evenly distributed than species diversity; (2) areas of highest PD (often called 'hotspots') do not maximise cumulative PD; and (3) many biomes are needed to maximise cumulative PD. Our results support all three hypotheses: more than twice as many regions are required to cover 50% of global plant PD compared to 50% of species; regions that maximise cumulative PD substantially differ from the regions with outstanding individual PD; and while (sub-)tropical moist forest regions dominate across PD hotspots, other forest types and open biomes are also essential. Safeguarding PD in the Anthropocene (including the protection of some comparatively species-poor areas) is a global, increasingly recognised responsibility. Having highlighted countries with outstanding unique plant PD, further analyses are now required to fully understand the global distribution of plant PD and associated conservation imperatives across spatial scales.


Assuntos
Biodiversidade , Conservação dos Recursos Naturais , Humanos , Filogenia , Conservação dos Recursos Naturais/métodos , Plantas , Ecossistema
5.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 119(27): e2120662119, 2022 07 05.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35767644

RESUMO

Species richness varies immensely around the world. Variation in the rate of diversification (speciation minus extinction) is often hypothesized to explain this pattern, while alternative explanations invoke time or ecological carrying capacities as drivers. Focusing on seed plants, the world's most important engineers of terrestrial ecosystems, we investigated the role of diversification rate as a link between the environment and global species richness patterns. Applying structural equation modeling to a comprehensive distribution dataset and phylogenetic tree covering all circa 332,000 seed plant species and 99.9% of the world's terrestrial surface (excluding Antarctica), we test five broad hypotheses postulating that diversification serves as a mechanistic link between species richness and climate, climatic stability, seasonality, environmental heterogeneity, or the distribution of biomes. Our results show that the global patterns of species richness and diversification rate are entirely independent. Diversification rates were not highest in warm and wet climates, running counter to the Metabolic Theory of Ecology, one of the dominant explanations for global gradients in species richness. Instead, diversification rates were highest in edaphically diverse, dry areas that have experienced climate change during the Neogene. Meanwhile, we confirmed climate and environmental heterogeneity as the main drivers of species richness, but these effects did not involve diversification rates as a mechanistic link, calling for alternative explanations. We conclude that high species richness is likely driven by the antiquity of wet tropical areas (supporting the "tropical conservatism hypothesis") or the high ecological carrying capacity of warm, wet, and/or environmentally heterogeneous environments.


Assuntos
Extinção Biológica , Especiação Genética , Plantas , Biodiversidade , Clima , Conjuntos de Dados como Assunto , Ecossistema , Filogenia , Plantas/classificação , Plantas/genética
6.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 116(1): 79-83, 2019 01 02.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30559194

RESUMO

Biotic interactions such as competition, predation, and niche construction are fundamental drivers of biodiversity at the local scale, yet their long-term effect during earth history remains controversial. To test their role and explore potential limits to biodiversity, we determine within-habitat (alpha), between-habitat (beta), and overall (gamma) diversity of benthic marine invertebrates for Phanerozoic geological formations. We show that an increase in gamma diversity is consistently generated by an increase in alpha diversity throughout the Phanerozoic. Beta diversity drives gamma diversity only at early stages of diversification but remains stationary once a certain gamma level is reached. This mode is prevalent during early- to mid-Paleozoic periods, whereas coupling of beta and gamma diversity becomes increasingly weak toward the recent. Generally, increases in overall biodiversity were accomplished by adding more species to local habitats, and apparently this process never reached saturation during the Phanerozoic. Our results provide general support for an ecological model in which diversification occurs in successive phases of progressing levels of biotic interactions.


Assuntos
Organismos Aquáticos , Biodiversidade , Fósseis , Animais , História Antiga , Oceanos e Mares , Paleontologia
7.
Ecol Lett ; 21(8): 1135-1142, 2018 08.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-29790283

RESUMO

Bridging the gap between the fossil record and conservation biology has recently become of great interest. The enormous number of documented extinctions across different taxa can provide insights into the extinction risk of living species. However, few studies have explored this connection. We used generalised boosted modelling to analyse the impact of several traits that are assumed to influence extinction risk on the stratigraphic duration of amphibian species in the fossil record. We used this fossil-calibrated model to predict the extinction risk for living species. We observed a high consensus between our predicted species durations and the current IUCN Red List status of living amphibian species. We also found that today's Data Deficient species are mainly predicted to experience short durations, hinting at their likely high threat status. Our study suggests that the fossil record can be a suitable tool for the evaluation of current taxa-specific Red Listing status.


Assuntos
Anfíbios , Extinção Biológica , Fósseis , Animais , Conservação dos Recursos Naturais
8.
R Soc Open Sci ; 4(5): 170051, 2017 May.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28573010

RESUMO

Trait analysis has become a crucial tool for assessing the extinction risk of species. While some extinction risk-trait relationships have been often identical between different living taxa, a temporal comparison of fossil taxa with related current taxa was rarely considered. However, we argue that it is important to know if extinction risk-trait relations are constant or changing over time. Herein we investigated the influence of habitat type on the persistence length of amphibian species. Living amphibians are regarded as the most threatened group of terrestrial vertebrates and thus of high interest to conservationists. Species from different habitat types show differences in extinction risk, i.e. species depending on flowing waters being more threatened than those breeding in stagnant sites. After assessing the quality of the available amphibian fossil data, we show that today's habitat type-extinction risk relationship is reversed compared to fossil amphibians, former taxa persisting longer when living in rivers and streams, thus suggesting a change of effect direction of this trait. Neither differences between amphibian orders nor environmentally caused preservation effects could explain this pattern. We argue this change to be most likely a result of anthropogenic influence, which turned a once favourable strategy into a disadvantage.

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