Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study finds there is less knowledge about global species diversity than previously assumed

11.12.2015

Many of the previous studies on global species diversity are inaccurate. These are the conclusions of an international research group, led by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) in collaboration with the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research Halle - Jena - Leipzig (iDiv), which carried out a long-term study on biodiversity in the subtropical forests of China. The study shows that there might be an under- or overestimation of global biodiversity by up to 50 per cent when the survey is based on only a few taxa. The study’s findings were published in the journal “Nature Communications”.

The international research group “BEF-China” received funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG) for a period of eight years. Its aim was to determine the diversity of the species present in an ecosystem.

“This presents a massive challenge, particularly for tropical and subtropical forest ecosystems that have a rich variety of species,” says Professor Helge Bruelheide from the Institute of Biology at MLU who led the research group. Even though the global diversity of plant species is well known, there are only a few studies that have attempted to record the variety of animal species – from the bugs found under bark to web-building spiders – as well as the plant species found in these forests.

The tiny living creatures – such as the fungi and bacteria in the soil that are useful and harmful to plants – have often been disregarded. “All of these species are what makes up global biodiversity,” Bruelheide explains. This is why many of the studies investigating the scale of this biodiversity have only been speculation.

The international research team now has sound estimates in China about the number of species belonging to 43 different major taxa. These estimates are based on individual test plots as well as on an entire nature reserve. “A key feature of our project region is that it reflects the current situation of the earth’s forests better than the tropical lowland rainforests which have been the main focus of many studies up until now,” says Dr Andreas Schuldt from Leuphana University Lüneburg, the lead author of the study.

“Forty-seven per cent of the humid tropical and subtropical forests occur in mountainous regions, a situation that is very similar to our project region. We can now assume that, in regions with different altitudes, slopes and solar orientation, species numbers increase at a different rate according to area than in lowland rain forests.” The majority of rainforest research has focused on the more accessible lowland rainforests. This new study underscores the necessity of carrying out more intensive investigations in the mountainous rainforests, says Schuldt.

Another new feature of this study is the way it combines traditional ways of determining species with modern methods of DNA analysis. This allows scientists to determine the number of bacteria and fungi taxa found in soil. This important contribution was made by Dr Tesfaye Wubet and Professor François Buscot from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Halle. The team took a complete inventory of 27 sample plots in the Gutianshan National Nature Reserve in Zhejiang province west of Shanghai. The scientists were able to record in excess of 77,000 individuals from more than 1,000 plant and animal species, and 6,000 microorganism taxa.

Geobotanist Helge Bruelheide adds: “This work is an example of why long-term research is so essential. Studies such as this cannot be achieved within the usual funding period of three years. They require years of repeated investigations on numerous sample plots.”

The numbers show that, according to the researchers’ projections, one ha of subtropical forest can capture around 38 per cent of all species while 10 ha can capture 76 per cent of the species. “This reveals the limited informational value of sample plots with very selective distribution globally,” says Bruelheide. The larger the area and the number of woody plants, i.e. trees and shrubs, the less precisely one can predict the overall diversity of other taxa.

Methods of spatial statistics were integrated into the study to lay the foundations for more precise future predictions about the number of species found in large areas, such as entire continents, based on environmental conditions.

MLU, iDiv Research Centre and UFZ were joined in the study by the universities of Lüneburg, Freiburg, Kiel und Leipzig in Germany, and the institutes of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

Original Publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms10169

Schuldt, A., Wubet, T., Buscot, F., Staab, M., Assmann, T., Böhnke-Kammerlander, M., Both, S., Erfmeier, A., Klein, A.M., Ma, K.P., Pietsch, K., Schulze, S., Wirth, C., Zhang, J.Y., Zumstein, P. & Bruelheide, H. (2015): Multitrophic diversity in a biodiverse forest is highly nonlinear across spatial scales. - Nature Communications 6: 10169. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10169.

The study was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG FOR 582 891/1, 891/2), the Sino-German Centre for Research Promotion (GZ 524, 592, 698, 699, 785, 583 and 1020) and the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC 30710103907 and 584 30930005).

Contact:
Professor Helge Bruelheide (available from 14 December 2015)
Institute of Biology, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg & Co-Director iDiv
Phone: +49-345–55-26222
http://www.botanik.uni-halle.de/geobotanik/helge_bruelheide/

Professor François Buscot
Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), University of Leipzig & Co-Director iDiv
Phone: +49-345-558-5221
https://www.ufz.de/index.php?de=7005

PD Dr Andreas Schuldt
Institute of Ecology, Leuphana University of Lüneburg
Phone: +49-4131-677-2965
http://www.leuphana.de/andreas-schuldt.html

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.idiv.de/en/research/research-platforms/bef_china.html

Manuela Bank-Zillmann | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood
23.02.2017 | American Chemical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA eyes Pineapple Express soaking California

24.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

New gene for atrazine resistance identified in waterhemp

24.02.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

New Mechanisms of Gene Inactivation may prevent Aging and Cancer

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>