Trophic interactions among vertebrate guilds and plants shape global patterns in species diversity

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  • Jian Zhang
  • ,
  • Hong Qian, Illinois State Museum, Res & Collect Ctr
  • ,
  • Marco Girardello
  • ,
  • Vincent Pellissier
  • ,
  • Scott E. Nielsen, Univ Alberta, University of Alberta, Dept Renewable Resources
  • ,
  • Jens-Christian Svenning

Trophic interactions play critical roles in structuring biotic communities. Understanding variation in trophic interactions among systems provides important insights into biodiversity maintenance and conservation. However, the relative importance of bottom-up versus top-down trophic processes for broad-scale patterns in biodiversity is poorly understood. Here, we used global datasets on species richness of vascular plants, mammals and breeding birds to evaluate the role of trophic interactions in shaping large-scale diversity patterns. Specifically, we used non-recursive structural equation models to test for top-down and bottom-up forcing of global species diversity patterns among plants and trophic guilds of mammals and birds (carnivores, invertivores and herbivores), while accounting for extrinsic environmental drivers. The results show that trophic linkages emerged as being more important to explaining species richness than extrinsic environmental drivers. In particular, there were strong, positive top-down interactions between mammal herbivores and plants, and moderate to strong bottom-up and/or top-down interactions between herbivores/invertivores and carnivores. Estimated trophic interactions for separate biogeographical regions were consistent with global patterns. Our findings demonstrate that, after accounting for environmental drivers, large-scale species richness patterns in plant and vertebrate taxa consistently support trophic interactions playing a major role in shaping global patterns in biodiversity. Furthermore, these results suggest that top-down forces often play strong complementary roles relative to bottom-up drivers in structuring biodiversity patterns across trophic levels. These findings underscore the importance of integrating trophic forcing mechanisms into studies of biodiversity patterns.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummer20180949
TidsskriftProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Vol/bind285
Nummer1883
Antal sider10
ISSN0962-8452
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 25 jul. 2018

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