A new study shows that, in addition to the diversity of tree species, the variety of animal and fungus species also has a decisive influence on the performance of forests. Forest performance comprises many facets besides timber production, such as carbon storage and climate regulation. The study is based on ten years of research in species-rich subtropical forests. A team of researchers led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg has published the results in the new issue of Nature Communications.
They illustrate that biodiversity must be viewed as a whole in order to maintain the performance of forests.
There is a global concern that the loss of biodiversity caused by people is impairing the functioning of our cultural and natural landscapes. In our forests, trees are the most conspicuous and prominent organisms. The consequences of reduced tree species diversity are therefore comparatively easy to grasp.
Subtropical forests like this one in East China (Gutianshan Reserve) have a high species richness.
However, it is much more difficult to take into consideration the diversity of the thousands of sometimes tiny animal and micro-organism species that perform important tasks in forests as herbivores, pest controllers or recycling experts. Therefore, the effects of a loss of this species diversity have so far been difficult to quantify.
After years of dedication, a team of German, Chinese, Swiss and American researchers has now succeeded in doing this for the first time for particularly species-rich, semi-natural forests in the subtropics of China.
The research group has not only studied the enormous species diversity of beetles, spiders, ants, woodlice and fungi in these forests, but at the same time, they investigated a variety of processes that are essential for the functioning of the forests. These processes include the growth of timber, the prevention of soil erosion, the recycling of nutrients or the biological control of potential pests.
“Our analyses show that the diversity of animal and fungal species affects numerous important processes – such as the availability of nutrients for tree growth,” said Dr Andreas Schuldt, first author of the study, from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg. “To understand why and how a loss of biodiversity affects these forests, it is not enough to concentrate solely on the trees and their species diversity.”
The species richness of herbivores and their competitors was also important, an important finding with regard to the expected intensification and the possible prevention of pest infestation with progressive climate change. Furthermore, besides animals and fungi, the researchers found that the multifunctionality of forest stands is influenced not so much by the number of tree species as by their functional properties and the resulting composition of different types of tree species.
“Our previous knowledge on the relationships between multifunctionality and biodiversity mainly comes from comparatively species-poor forests in Europe and North America,” said Prof Helge Bruelheide, spokesperson of the research group and senior author of the study. “We can now show for the first time that such relationships in the extremely species-rich subtropics and tropics follow their own dynamics. This is important to understand because these forests are of great importance for global biogeochemical cycles and for us humans.”
The results of the study also allow deductions for the management of forests under ever-changing environmental conditions and therefore provide important basic data. These insights were made possible by the many years of funding of biodiversity research and the project by the German Research Foundation (DFG).
PD Dr. Andreas Schuldt
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Prof. Dr. Helge Bruelheide
Professor for Geobotany, Institute of Biology, Martin Luther University Halle Wittenberg
Co-Director of iDiv
Schuldt A, Assmann T, Brezzi M, Buscot F, Eichenberg D, Gutknecht J, Härdtle W, He JS, Klein AM, Kühn1 P Liu X, Ma KP, Niklaus PA, Pietsch KA, Purahong W, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Schmid B, Scholten T, Staab M, Tang ZY, Trogisch S, von Oheimb G, Wirth C, Wubet T, Zhu CD, Bruelheide H (2018): Biodiversity across trophic levels drives multifunctionality in highly diverse forests. Nature Communications 9, Article number: 2989 (2018). Open. Published: 31 July 2018
Tilo Arnhold | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Cereals use chemical defenses in a multifunctional manner against different herbivores
06.12.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
Can rice filter water from ag fields?
05.12.2018 | American Society of Agronomy
An international research team including astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has combined radio telescopes from five continents to prove the existence of a narrow stream of material, a so-called jet, emerging from the only gravitational wave event involving two neutron stars observed so far. With its high sensitivity and excellent performance, the 100-m radio telescope in Effelsberg played an important role in the observations.
In August 2017, two neutron stars were observed colliding, producing gravitational waves that were detected by the American LIGO and European Virgo detectors....
Up to now, OLEDs have been used exclusively as a novel lighting technology for use in luminaires and lamps. However, flexible organic technology can offer much more: as an active lighting surface, it can be combined with a wide variety of materials, not just to modify but to revolutionize the functionality and design of countless existing products. To exemplify this, the Fraunhofer FEP together with the company EMDE development of light GmbH will be presenting hybrid flexible OLEDs integrated into textile designs within the EU-funded project PI-SCALE for the first time at LOPEC (March 19-21, 2019 in Munich, Germany) as examples of some of the many possible applications.
The Fraunhofer FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, has long been involved in the development of...
For the first time, an international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has recorded the orbitals of single molecules in different charge states in a novel type of microscopy. The research findings are published under the title “Mapping orbital changes upon electron transfer with tunneling microscopy on insulators” in the prestigious journal “Nature”.
The building blocks of matter surrounding us are atoms and molecules. The properties of that matter, however, are often not set by these building blocks...
Scientists at the University of Konstanz identify fierce competition between the human immune system and bacterial pathogens
Cell biologists from the University of Konstanz shed light on a recent evolutionary process in the human immune system and publish their findings in the...
Laser physicists have taken snapshots of carbon molecules C₆₀ showing how they transform in intense infrared light
When carbon molecules C₆₀ are exposed to an intense infrared light, they change their ball-like structure to a more elongated version. This has now been...
11.02.2019 | Event News
30.01.2019 | Event News
16.01.2019 | Event News
22.02.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
22.02.2019 | Materials Sciences
22.02.2019 | Life Sciences