Ecological networks are more sensitive to plant than to animal extinction under climate change

  • Impacts of climate change on individual species are increasingly well documented, but we lack understanding of how these effects propagate through ecological communities. Here we combine species distribution models with ecological network analyses to test potential impacts of climate change on >700 plant and animal species in pollination and seed-dispersal networks from central Europe. We discover that animal species that interact with a low diversity of plant species have narrow climatic niches and are most vulnerable to climate change. In contrast, biotic specialization of plants is not related to climatic niche breadth and vulnerability. A simulation model incorporating different scenarios of species coextinction and capacities for partner switches shows that projected plant extinctions under climate change are more likely to trigger animal coextinctions than vice versa. This result demonstrates that impacts of climate change on biodiversity can be amplified via extinction cascades from plants to animals in ecological networks.

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Author:Matthias Schleuning, Jochen Fründ, Oliver Schweiger, Erik Welk, Jörg Albrecht, Matthias Albrecht, Marion Beil, Gita Benadi, Nico Blüthgen, Helge Bruelheide, Katrin Böhning-GaeseORCiDGND, D. Matthias Dehling, Carsten F. Dormann, Nina Exeler, Nina Farwig, Alexander Harpke, Thomas HicklerORCiD, Anselm Kratochwil, Michael Kuhlmann, Ingolf Kühn, Denis Michez, Sonja Mudri-Stojnić, Michaela Plein, Pierre Rasmont, Angelika Schwabe, Josef Settele, Ante Vujić, Christiane Natalie Weiner, Martin Wiemers, Christian Hof
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):Nature Communications
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group UK
Place of publication:[London]
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2016
Date of first Publication:2016/12/23
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2017/12/21
Tag:Climate-change ecology; Community ecology; Ecological modelling; Ecological networks
Issue:Art. 13965
Page Number:9
First Page:1
Last Page:9
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit © The Author(s) 2016
Institutes:Geowissenschaften / Geographie / Geographie
Biowissenschaften / Institut für Ökologie, Evolution und Diversität
Fachübergreifende Einrichtungen / Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum (BiK-F)
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 55 Geowissenschaften, Geologie / 550 Geowissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0