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      A millennium of increasing diversity of ecosystems until the mid‐20th century

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          Abstract

          Land‐use change is widely regarded as a simplifying and homogenising force in nature. In contrast, analysing global land‐use reconstructions from the 10th to 20th centuries, we found progressive increases in the number, evenness, and diversity of ecosystems (including human‐modified land‐use types) present across most of the Earth's land surface. Ecosystem diversity increased more rapidly after ~1700 CE, then slowed or slightly declined (depending on the metric) following the mid‐20th century acceleration of human impacts. The results also reveal increasing spatial differentiation, rather than homogenisation, in both the presence‐absence and area‐coverage of different ecosystem types at sub‐global scales—at least, prior to the mid‐20th century. Nonetheless, geographic homogenization was revealed for a subset of analyses at a global scale, reflecting the now‐global presence of certain human‐modified ecosystem types. Our results suggest that, while human land‐use changes have caused declines in relatively undisturbed or “primary” ecosystem types, they have also driven increases in ecosystem diversity over the last millennium.

          Abstract

          Land‐use change is widely regarded as a simplifying and homogenising force in nature. However, we found progressive increases in the number, evenness, and diversity of ecosystems present across most of the Earth's land surface until the mid‐20th century acceleration of human impacts. Nonetheless, geographic homogenization was revealed for a subset of analyses at a global scale, reflecting the now‐global presence of certain human‐modified ecosystem types. While the global story of biodiversity change involves the loss and decline of certain ecosystem types, the full story is more complex and interesting, involving gains and increases in other ecosystem types, and increased ecosystem diversity at most spatial and temporal scales.

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          Most cited references39

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          Global effects of land use on local terrestrial biodiversity

          Human activities, especially conversion and degradation of habitats, are causing global biodiversity declines. How local ecological assemblages are responding is less clear--a concern given their importance for many ecosystem functions and services. We analysed a terrestrial assemblage database of unprecedented geographic and taxonomic coverage to quantify local biodiversity responses to land use and related changes. Here we show that in the worst-affected habitats, these pressures reduce within-sample species richness by an average of 76.5%, total abundance by 39.5% and rarefaction-based richness by 40.3%. We estimate that, globally, these pressures have already slightly reduced average within-sample richness (by 13.6%), total abundance (10.7%) and rarefaction-based richness (8.1%), with changes showing marked spatial variation. Rapid further losses are predicted under a business-as-usual land-use scenario; within-sample richness is projected to fall by a further 3.4% globally by 2100, with losses concentrated in biodiverse but economically poor countries. Strong mitigation can deliver much more positive biodiversity changes (up to a 1.9% average increase) that are less strongly related to countries' socioeconomic status.
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            Has the Earth's sixth mass extinction already arrived?

            Palaeontologists characterize mass extinctions as times when the Earth loses more than three-quarters of its species in a geologically short interval, as has happened only five times in the past 540 million years or so. Biologists now suggest that a sixth mass extinction may be under way, given the known species losses over the past few centuries and millennia. Here we review how differences between fossil and modern data and the addition of recently available palaeontological information influence our understanding of the current extinction crisis. Our results confirm that current extinction rates are higher than would be expected from the fossil record, highlighting the need for effective conservation measures.
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              Environmental heterogeneity as a universal driver of species richness across taxa, biomes and spatial scales.

              Environmental heterogeneity is regarded as one of the most important factors governing species richness gradients. An increase in available niche space, provision of refuges and opportunities for isolation and divergent adaptation are thought to enhance species coexistence, persistence and diversification. However, the extent and generality of positive heterogeneity-richness relationships are still debated. Apart from widespread evidence supporting positive relationships, negative and hump-shaped relationships have also been reported. In a meta-analysis of 1148 data points from 192 studies worldwide, we examine the strength and direction of the relationship between spatial environmental heterogeneity and species richness of terrestrial plants and animals. We find that separate effects of heterogeneity in land cover, vegetation, climate, soil and topography are significantly positive, with vegetation and topographic heterogeneity showing particularly strong associations with species richness. The use of equal-area study units, spatial grain and spatial extent emerge as key factors influencing the strength of heterogeneity-richness relationships, highlighting the pervasive influence of spatial scale in heterogeneity-richness studies. We provide the first quantitative support for the generality of positive heterogeneity-richness relationships across heterogeneity components, habitat types, taxa and spatial scales from landscape to global extents, and identify specific needs for future comparative heterogeneity-richness research. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                ines.martins@york.ac.uk
                Journal
                Glob Chang Biol
                Glob Chang Biol
                10.1111/(ISSN)1365-2486
                GCB
                Global Change Biology
                John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
                1354-1013
                1365-2486
                22 July 2022
                October 2022
                : 28
                : 20 ( doiID: 10.1111/gcb.v28.20 )
                : 5945-5955
                Affiliations
                [ 1 ] Department of Biology University of York York UK
                [ 2 ] Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity, Berrick Saul Second Floor University of York York UK
                [ 3 ] Centre for Biological Diversity, School of Biology University of St Andrews St Andrews UK
                [ 4 ] Département de Biologie Université de Sherbrooke Sherbrooke Quebec Canada
                Author notes
                [*] [* ] Correspondence

                Inês S. Martins, Department of Biology, University of York, Wentworth Way, York YO10 5DD, UK.

                Email: ines.martins@ 123456york.ac.uk

                Article
                GCB16335 GCB-22-0841.R1
                10.1111/gcb.16335
                9543278
                35808866
                4102127b-11bb-49b1-b5f1-a49cd097dd59
                © 2022 The Authors. Global Change Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

                This is an open access article under the terms of the http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 0, Pages: 11, Words: 8647
                Product
                Funding
                Funded by: Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity
                Award ID: RC‐2018‐021
                Funded by: Marie Sklodowska‐Curie Actions , doi 10.13039/100018694;
                Award ID: 894644
                Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada , doi 10.13039/501100000038;
                Categories
                Research Article
                Research Articles
                Custom metadata
                2.0
                October 2022
                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_JATSPMC version:6.2.0 mode:remove_FC converted:07.10.2022

                anthropocene,diversity metrics,ecosystem diversity,global change,land‐use change,spatial ecology,spatio‐temporal

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