Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Tag Archive: biodiversity

  1. Urban habitat restoration provides a human health benefit through microbiome rewilding: the Microbiome Rewilding Hypothesis

    Leave a Comment
    • We propose the Microbiome Rewilding Hypothesis, which specifically outlines that restoring biodiverse habitats in urban green spaces can rewild the environmental microbiome to a state that enhances primary prevention of human disease…

    October 2017 Restoration Ecology

    Abstract

    Restoration aims to return ecosystem services, including the human health benefits of exposure to green space. The loss of such exposure with urbanization and industrialization has arguably contributed to an increase in human immune dysregulation. The Biodiversity and Old Friends hypotheses have described the possible mechanisms of this relationship, and suggest that reduced exposure to diverse, beneficial microorganisms can result in negative health consequences. However, it is unclear whether restoration of biodiverse habitat can reverse this effect, and what role the environmental microbiome might have in such recovery. Here, we propose the Microbiome Rewilding Hypothesis, which specifically outlines that restoring biodiverse habitats in urban green spaces can rewild the environmental microbiome to a state that enhances primary prevention of human disease. We support our hypothesis with examples from allied fields, including a case study of active restoration that reversed the degradation of the soil bacterial microbiome of a former pasture. This case study used high-throughput amplicon sequencing of environmental DNA to assess the quality of a restoration intervention in restoring the soil bacterial microbiome. The method is rapid, scalable, and standardizable, and has great potential as a monitoring tool to assess functional outcomes of green-space restoration. Evidence for the Microbiome Rewilding Hypothesis will help motivate health professionals, urban planners, and restoration practitioners to collaborate and achieve co-benefits. Co-benefits include improved human health outcomes and investment opportunities for biodiversity conservation and restoration.

    Mills, J. G., Weinstein, P., Gellie, N. J. C., Weyrich, L. S., Lowe, A. J. and Breed, M. F. (2017), Urban habitat restoration provides a human health benefit through microbiome rewilding: the Microbiome Rewilding Hypothesis. Restor Ecol, 25: 866–872. doi:10.1111/rec.12610

  2. Include Biodiversity in Habitat Restoration Policy to Facilitate Ecosystem Recovery

    Leave a Comment
    • Need to bridge the ‘practice – science gap’ between practitioners and biodiversity research to optimize restoration projects

    November 27, 2017  Northeastern University College of Science Read full ScienceDaily article here

    As restoration projects throughout the country focus on restoring natural ecosystems, researchers are looking for ways to better bridge the ‘practice science gap’ between practitioners and biodiversity research in an effort optimize these types of projects.

    … there are more than two decades of research that show if you increase biodiversity — the living organisms that occupy an ecosystem — important ecosystem functions begin to see positive improvements….

    Dr. Susan Williams, of the Bodega Marine Laboratory at University of California, Davis. “Even if we know the community is more diverse, we instinctively reach for an efficient restoration solution by focusing on a single species or the one that has been impacted most. Our instincts are often at odds with our growing understanding of the benefits of biodiversity.”…

    ….”There is reason to believe that biodiversity may be able to enhance the success of restoration, but we need more data, and the only way we’ll get that data is if more partnerships are formed between biodiversity scientists and restoration practitioners. It might be a relatively simple way to enhance the success of restoration projects,” she said.

    A. Randall Hughes, Jonathan H. Grabowski, Heather M. Leslie, Steven Scyphers, Susan L. Williams. Inclusion of Biodiversity in Habitat Restoration Policy to Facilitate Ecosystem Recovery. Conservation Letters, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/conl.12419

  3. Higher plant diversity may not be enough to protect ecosystems from the worst impacts of climate extremes

    Leave a Comment
    • Available evidence from herbaceous systems indicates mixed effects of species richness on biomass stability to extremely wet and dry events.

    November 28, 2017 British Ecological Society (BES) read full ScienceDaily article here

    Studies on mild fluctuations in weather have provided support for the idea that higher biodiversity results in more stable functioning of ecosystems, but critical appraisal of the evidence from extreme event studies is lacking.

    Higher plant species richness is not always sufficient to reduce ecosystem vulnerability to climate extremes, as shown in a comprehensive literature analysis published in the Journal of Ecology.

    While biodiversity is under threat around the globe, the number of extreme weather events is on the rise as a direct consequence of climate change…Available evidence from herbaceous systems indicates mixed effects of species richness on biomass stability to extremely wet and dry events.

    …Biodiversity may still be important [in reducing dire impacts of climate change], as it has been shown to speed up recovery of plant productivity after an extreme event…the cause of biodiversity decline may confound biodiversity-stability effects….species richness may not be the most relevant indicator of ‘biodiversity’ when studying biodiversity-stability relationships….

    De Boeck HJ, Bloor JMG, Kreyling J, et al. Patterns and drivers of biodiversity-stability relationships under climate extremes. J Ecol., 2017;00:1%u201313 DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12897

  4. Mapping biodiversity of forests with remote sensing; the more diverse, the more resilient

    Leave a Comment

    Posted: 13 Nov 2017 06:55 AM PST  read full ScienceDaily article here

    Productivity and stability of forest ecosystems strongly depend on the functional diversity of plant communities. Researchers have developed a new method to measure and map functional diversity of forests at different scales — from individual trees to whole communities — using remote sensing by aircraft [paving] the way for future airborne and satellite missions to monitor global plant functional diversity.

    Ecological studies have demonstrated positive relationships between plant diversity and ecosystem functioning. Forests with higher functional diversity are generally more productive and stable over long timescales than less diverse forests. Diverse plant communities ….can better cope with changing environmental conditions — an insurance effect of biodiversity. They are also less vulnerable to diseases, insect attacks, fire and storms.

    Researchers from the UZH and the California Institute of Technology / NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory have now developed a new remote-sensing method to map functional diversity of forests from small to large scales, independent of any predefined vegetation units or species information and without the need for ground-based calibration….

    With airborne laser scanning, the scientists measured morphological characteristics of the forest canopy such as canopy height, foliage and branch densities. These measurements indicate how the sunlight is taken up by the canopy to assimilate carbon dioxide from the air and use the carbon to grow. In a canopy with a more diverse structure, light can better spread between different vertical canopy layers and among individual tree crowns, allowing for a more efficient capture of light. The researchers also characterized the forest with regards to its biochemical properties using airborne imaging spectroscopy. By measuring how leaves reflect the light in many spectral bands, they were able to derive physiological traits such as the content of leaf pigments (chlorophylls, carotenoids) and leaf water content

    We can see, for example, if a tree is suffering water stress, and what resource allocation strategy a tree is following or how it adapts to the environment,”

    Fabian D. Schneider et al. Mapping functional diversity from remotely sensed morphological and physiological forest traits. Nature Communications, 2017; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01530-3


  5. Climate change and biodiversity – recent reports and books

    Leave a Comment
    • Information on 11 reports released by NGOs, international agencies, and research centers.

    Yale Climate Connections Oct. 19 2017 read full article here

    This post highlights reports on climate change and biodiversity released by environmental organizations, international agencies, and research centers. We present these reports in chronological order; as always, the descriptions are drawn from copy provided by the publishers.

    The October 12 companion post highlighted 12 books that provide overviews of likely impacts of climate change on biodiversity, historical and species-specific case studies, surveys of habitats and ecosystems, and reflections on places, policies, and practices.

    • Species and Climate Change: More Than Just the Polar Bear, edited by Sarah Horsely (IUCN 2009, 46 pages, free download)is likely to have on land and in our oceans and rivers.
    • Arctic Biodiversity Assessment: Scientific Synthesis (Arctic Council 2013, 132 pages, free download)
    • Vital But Vulnerable: Climate Change Vulnerability and Human Use of Wildlife in Africa’s Albertine Rift, by Jamie Carr, Wendy B. Foden, Gemma Goodman, Thomasina Oldfield, Thomasina, and Willow Outhwaite (IUCN 2013, 240 pages, free download).
    • Integrating Biodiversity and Climate Change Adaptation in Activity Design, edited by Jonathan Cook and Diane Adams (US AID 2015, 60 pages, free download)
    • IUCN SSC Guidelines for Assessing Species Vulnerability to Climate Change, edited by Wendy B. Foden and Bruce E. Young (IUCN 2016, 127 pages, free download)
    • Changing Tides: How Sea-Level Rise Harms Wildlife and Recreation Economies Along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, by Lauren Anderson, Patty Glick, Shannon Heyck-Williams, and Jim Murphy (National Wildlife Federation 2016, 40 pages, free download)
    • Adapting to Climate Change: Guidance for Protected Area Planners and Managers, edited by John E. Gross, Steven Woodley, Leigh Welling, and James E.M. Watson (IUCN 2016, 129 pages, free download)
    • Options for Ecosystem-Based Adaptation in Coastal Environments: A Guide for Environmental Managers and Planners, edited by Rebecca Mant, Will Simonson, Matea Osti, Xavier de Lamo and Nanna Vansteelant. (UNEP 2016, 110 pages, free download)
    • Protected Planet Report 2016: How Protected Areas Contribute to the Goals of Biodiversity, edited by Nina Bhola, Diego Juffe-Bignolia, Neil Burgess, Trevor Sandwith, and Naomi Kingston (Protected Planet 2016, 84 pages, free download
    • State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report, by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna group (Arctic Council 2017, 200 pages, free download)
    • SOS II: Fish in Hot Water: Status, Threats, and Solutions for California Salmon, Steelhead, and Trout, based on a report by Dr. Peter B. Moyle, Dr. Rob Lusardi and Patrick Samuel (California Trout 2017, 40 pages, free download).
  6. Diversity of large animals plays an important role in carbon cycle

    Leave a Comment
    • We have to maintain the diversity and abundance of animals, especially mammals, in order to ensure a well-functioning carbon cycle and the retention of carbon in soils
    • To increase carbon sequestration, we have to preserve not only high numbers of animals but also many different species

    October 10, 2017 Stanford University read full ScienceDaily article here

    With abundant data on plants, large animals and their activity, and carbon soil levels in the Amazon, research suggests that large animal diversity influences carbon stocks and contributes to climate change mitigation….

    …”It’s not enough to worry about the trees in the world holding carbon. That’s really important but it’s not the whole story,” said Fragoso. “We also have to worry about maintaining the diversity and abundance of animals, especially mammals at this point, in order to ensure a well-functioning carbon cycle and the retention of carbon in soils.”

    Although scientists have long understood that animals — through ingestion, digestion, breathing and decomposition — are part of the carbon cycle, the work, published Oct. 9 in Nature Ecology and Evolution is the first to suggest the importance of animal biodiversity rather than just animal numbers in the carbon cycle.

    If we want to increase carbon sequestration, we have to preserve not only high numbers of animals but also many different species, the authors said.

    …The researchers found that soil had the highest carbon concentrations where they saw the most vertebrate species. When they looked for a mechanism that could explain this relationship, it turned out that the areas with highest animal diversity had the highest frequency of feeding interactions, such as animals preying on other animals or eating fruit, which results in organic material on and in the ground. The researchers suggest that these meal remnants bump up diversity and abundance of soil microbes, which convert the remains into stored carbon

    Mar Sobral, Kirsten M. Silvius, Han Overman, Luiz F. B. Oliveira, Ted K. Rabb, José M. V. Fragoso. Mammal diversity influences the carbon cycle through trophic interactions in the Amazon. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0334-0

  7. Herbivores help protect ecosystems from climate change

    Leave a Comment
    • In the summer, when temperatures were at their warmest in the intertidal zone, biological communities could fare well even if they were heated, but only if limpets were present

    October 11, 2017 University of British Columbia read full ScienceDaily article here

    Plant-eating critters are the key ingredient to helping ecosystems survive global warming, finds new research that offers some hope for a defense strategy against climate change.

    The herbivores created space for other plants and animals to move in and we saw much more diversity and variety in these ecosystems,” said Rebecca Kordas, the lead author of the study who completed this research as a PhD student in zoology at UBC. “We want variety because we found it helps protect the ecosystem when you add a stressor like heat.”

    …The researchers found that in the summer, when temperatures were at their warmest, communities could fare well even if they were heated, but only if limpets were present. “When limpets were part of the community, the effects of warming were less harsh,” she said….

    …The researchers were studying life in the intertidal zone, the area of the shore between the low tide and high tide. This area is home to a community of starfish, anemones, mussels, barnacles and seaweed. As the tide moves in and out, the plants and animals must cope with huge variation in temperature every day, sometimes as much as 20 to 25 degrees Celsius.

    These creatures are already living at their physiological limits, so a two-degree change –– a conservative prediction of the warming expected over the next 80 years or so — can make a big difference,” said Kordas. “When heat waves come through B.C. and the Pacific Northwest, we see mass mortality of numerous intertidal species.”…

    Rebecca L. Kordas, Ian Donohue, Christopher D. G. Harley. Herbivory enables marine communities to resist warming. Science Advances, 2017; 3 (10): e1701349 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701349

  8. Diverse landscapes are more productive and adapt better to climate change

    Leave a Comment
    • The analyses showed that landscapes with a greater biodiversity were more productive and that their productivity showed a lower year-to-year variation.
    • Landscapes with high biodiversity can adapt better and faster to changing environmental conditions

    Posted: 04 Sep 2017 01:56 PM PDT read full ScienceDaily article here

    Ecosystems with high biodiversity are more productive and stable towards annual fluctuations in environmental conditions than those with a low diversity of species. They also adapt better to climate-driven environmental changes. These are the key findings environmental scientists made in a study of about 450 landscapes harboring 2,200 plants and animal species….

    Jacqueline Oehri, Bernhard Schmid, Gabriela Schaepman-Strub, and Pascal A. Niklaus. Biodiversity promotes primary productivity and growing season lengthening at the landscape scale. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September 4, 2017 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1703928114

  9. Measuring global biodiversity change: Essential Biodiversity Variables

    Leave a Comment
    • Essential Biodiversity Variables constructed from various sources of data and are the underlying variables to assess changes in biodiversity through time can be produced to measure biodiversity change at a global scale.
    • EBVs can be used to measure progress toward key global policies to protect the world from further loss of biodiversity, support sustainable use of natural resources and enhance benefits from these.
    • harmonization of data collection and technical data management as well as legal complications and constraints are key bottlenecks

    August 17, 2017 read full ScienceDaily article here

    EBVs are constructed from various sources of data and are the underlying variables to assess changes in biodiversity through time. They can be used to measure the achievement of targets like the Aichi targets set by the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD) or the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) identified by the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to protect the world from further loss of biodiversity, support sustainable use of natural resources and enhance benefits from these…

    The publication is an outcome of the first two workshops organized by the EU-funded Horizon 2020 project GLOBIS-B: GLOBal Infrastructures for Supporting Biodiversity research

    Measurements of changes in species distribution and abundance underpin policy indicators to quantify population trends and extinction risk for threat categorization, assessments of geographic range dynamics, spread of invasive species, and biodiversity responses to climate change and habitat conversion. The discussions during the two workshops showed that the harmonization of data collection and technical data management as well as legal complications and constraints are key bottlenecks for building global EBV data products on species distribution and abundance….

    W. Daniel Kissling et al. Building essential biodiversity variables (EBVs) of species distribution and abundance at a global scale. Biological Reviews, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/brv.12359

  10. We need biodiversity to save biodiversity in a warmer world

    Leave a Comment

    July 14, 2017 German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig  see full sciencedaily article here

    Climate change leads to loss of biodiversity worldwide. However, ecosystems with a higher biodiversity in the first place might be less affected a new study. Scientists found that when they experimentally warmed meadows, the diversity of nematode worms living in the soil went down in monocultures, whereas the opposite was true for meadows with many different herbaceous plant species.

    …The last month was recorded as the warmest June ever in many parts of the world. Last year, 2016, was the warmest year in the modern temperature record. … poses direct threats to humans, like extreme weather events and global sea-level rise, but scientists are concerned that it may also affect our well-being indirectly via changes in biodiversity.…Today, ecologists are challenged by the question: what does a warmer world mean for biodiversity? More species, less species, or no change?…”The story is simple; you need biodiversity to conserve biodiversity in a warmer world.”

    The monoculture meadow created for the experiment resembled meadows found in intensively managed agricultural land. These new research findings therefore support conservationists who are advocating for maintaining species-rich ecosystems and farmland to sustain biodiversity, and thus human well-being, in a warmer world. This may help to prevent negative effects of climate warming, although likely with some limitations.

    P. Thakur, D. Tilman, O. Purschke, M. Ciobanu, J. Cowles, F. Isbell, P. D. Wragg, N. Eisenhauer. Climate warming promotes not only species diversity but also taxonomic redundancy in complex environmentsSci. Adv., 2017 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700866