29.07.2015 | Experimental Interaction Ecology

Drivers of temporal changes in temperate forest plant diversity vary across spatial scales

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Anthropogenic environmental change is widely recognized as the key driver of biodiversity change globally. At local and regional scales, however, identifying drivers and the context in which they most affect biodiversity is a fundamental challenge for developing spatially-explicit conservation plans. A recent study lead by Dr. Markus Bernhardt-Römermann (Friedrich Schiller University), Dr. Dylan Craven (iDiv), and other European researchers found that rates of biodiversity change varied strongly across 39 European temperate forests due to temporal changes in both local and regional drivers. Beyond forestry and game management practices that affect light availability and density of large herbivores, respectively, the study revealed that pre-survey levels of nitrogen deposition determined subsequent trajectories of biodiversity change. Forests where there was less accumulated nitrogen initially experienced greater changes in diversity than those that had already been exposed to large amounts of nitrogen. “This study can help policy makers and natural resource managers pinpoint priority areas for ecological restoration to mitigate future biodiversity loss”, says Dylan Craven. This study was published in Global Change Biology.
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