Land-use intensification causes multitrophic homogenization of grassland communities

Martin M. Gossner, Thomas M. Lewinsohn, Tiemo Kahl, Fabrice Grassein, Steffen Boch, Daniel Prati, Klaus Birkhofer, Swen C. Renner, Johannes Sikorski, Tesfaye Wubet, Hartmut Arndt, Vanessa Baumgartner, Stefan Blaser, Nico Blüthgen, Carmen Börschig, Francois Buscot, Tim DIekötter, Leonardo Ré Jorge, Kirsten Jung, Alexander C. KeyelAlexandra Maria Klein, Sandra Klemmer, Jochen Krauss, Markus Lange, Jörg Müller, Jörg Overmann, Esther Pašali, Caterina Penone, David J. Perovic, Oliver Purschke, Peter Schall, Stephanie A. Socher, Ilja Sonnemann, Marco Tschapka, Teja Tscharntke, Manfred Türke, Paul Christiaan Venter, Christiane N. Weiner, Michael Werner, Volkmar Wolters, Susanne Wurst, Catrin Westphal, Markus Fischer, Wolfgang W. Weisser, Eric Allan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

382 Scopus citations

Abstract

Land-use intensification is a major driver of biodiversity loss. Alongside reductions in local species diversity, biotic homogenization at larger spatial scales is of great concern for conservation. Biotic homogenization means a decrease in β-diversity (the compositional dissimilarity between sites). Most studies have investigated losses in local (α)-diversity and neglected biodiversity loss at larger spatial scales. Studies addressing β-diversity have focused on single or a few organism groups (for example, ref. 4), and it is thus unknown whether land-use intensification homogenizes communities at different trophic levels, above- A nd belowground. Here we show that even moderate increases in local land-use intensity (LUI) cause biotic homogenization across microbial, plant and animal groups, both above- A nd belowground, and that this is largely independent of changes in α-diversity. We analysed a unique grassland biodiversity dataset, with abundances of more than 4,000 species belonging to 12 trophic groups. LUI, and, in particular, high mowing intensity, had consistent effects on β-diversity across groups, causing a homogenization of soil microbial, fungal pathogen, plant and arthropod communities. These effects were nonlinear and the strongest declines in β-diversity occurred in the transition from extensively managed to intermediate intensity grassland. LUI tended to reduce local α-diversity in aboveground groups, whereas the α-diversity increased in belowground groups. Correlations between the β-diversity of different groups, particularly between plants and their consumers, became weaker at high LUI. This suggests a loss of specialist species and is further evidence for biotic homogenization. The consistently negative effects of LUI on landscape-scale biodiversity underscore the high value of extensively managed grasslands for conserving multitrophic biodiversity and ecosystem service provision. Indeed, biotic homogenization rather than local diversity loss could prove to be the most substantial consequence of land-use intensification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-269
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume540
Issue number7632
DOIs
StatePublished - 8 Dec 2016

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Land-use intensification causes multitrophic homogenization of grassland communities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this