Biotic homogenization and changes in species diversity across human-modified ecosystems

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Smart, S. M., Thompson, K., Marrs, R. H., Le Duc, M. G., Maskell, L. C. and Firbank, L. G. 2006. Biotic homogenization and changes in species diversity across human-modified ecosystems. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 273 (1601), pp. 2659-2665. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2006.3630

AuthorsSmart, S. M., Thompson, K., Marrs, R. H., Le Duc, M. G., Maskell, L. C. and Firbank, L. G.
Abstract

Changing land use and the spread of ‘winning’ native or exotic plants are expected to lead to biotic homogenization (BH), in which previously distinct plant communities become progressively more similar. In parallel, many ecosystems have recently seen increases in local species (α-) diversity, yet γ-diversity has continued to decline at larger scales. Using national ecological surveillance data for Great Britain, we quantify relationships between change in α-diversity and between-habitat homogenizations at two levels of organization: species composition and plant functional traits. Across Britain both increases and decreases in α-diversity were observed in small random sampling plots (10–200 m2) located within a national random sample of 1 km square regions. As α-diversity declined (spatially in 1978 or temporally between 1978 and 1998), plant communities became functionally more similar, but species-compositional similarity declined. Thus, different communities converged on a narrower range of winning trait syndromes, but species identities remained historically contingent, differentiating a mosaic of residual species-poor habitat patches within each 1 km square. The reverse trends in β-diversity occurred where α-diversity increased. When impacted by the same type and intensity of environmental change, directions of change in α-diversity are likely to depend upon differences in starting productivity and disturbance. This is one reason why local diversity change and BH across habitats are not likely to be consistently coupled.

Year of Publication2006
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Journal citation273 (1601), pp. 2659-2665
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2006.3630
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online18 Jul 2006
Publication process dates
Accepted24 May 2006
Copyright licensePublisher copyright
PublisherRoyal Society Publishing
ISSN0962-8452

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