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Synergistic impacts of habitat loss and fragmentation on model ecosystems

Bartlett, LJ; Newbold, T; Purves, DW; Tittensor, DP; Harfoot, MBJ; (2016) Synergistic impacts of habitat loss and fragmentation on model ecosystems. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences , 283 (1839) , Article 20161027. 10.1098/rspb.2016.1027. Green open access

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Abstract

Habitat loss and fragmentation are major threats to biodiversity, yet separating their effects is challenging. We use a multi-trophic, trait-based, and spatially explicit general ecosystem model to examine the independent and synergistic effects of these processes on ecosystem structure. We manipulated habitat by removing plant biomass in varying spatial extents, intensities, and configurations. We found that emergent synergistic interactions of loss and fragmentation are major determinants of ecosystem response, including population declines and trophic pyramid shifts. Furthermore, trait-mediated interactions, such as a disproportionate sensitivity of large-sized organisms to fragmentation, produce significant effects in shaping responses. We also show that top-down regulation mitigates the effects of land use on plant biomass loss, suggesting that models lacking these interactions—including most carbon stock models—may not adequately capture land-use change impacts. Our results have important implications for understanding ecosystem responses to environmental change, and assessing the impacts of habitat fragmentation.

Type: Article
Title: Synergistic impacts of habitat loss and fragmentation on model ecosystems
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.1027
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2016.1027
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Ecology, theoretical biology, environmental science, habitat fragmentation, habitat loss, land-use change, trophic shift, biomass pyramid, ecosystem response
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1516990
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