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      Consequences of tropical land use for multitrophic biodiversity and ecosystem functioning

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          Abstract

          Our knowledge about land-use impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is mostly limited to single trophic levels, leaving us uncertain about whole-community biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships. We analyse consequences of the globally important land-use transformation from tropical forests to oil palm plantations. Species diversity, density and biomass of invertebrate communities suffer at least 45% decreases from rainforest to oil palm. Combining metabolic and food-web theory, we calculate annual energy fluxes to model impacts of land-use intensification on multitrophic ecosystem functioning. We demonstrate a 51% reduction in energy fluxes from forest to oil palm communities. Species loss clearly explains variation in energy fluxes; however, this relationship depends on land-use systems and functional feeding guilds, whereby predators are the most heavily affected. Biodiversity decline from forest to oil palm is thus accompanied by even stronger reductions in functionality, threatening to severely limit the functional resilience of communities to cope with future global changes.

          Abstract

          Transformation of natural ecosystems into agricultural land is usually accompanied by extensive biodiversity loss. Calculating multitrophic energy fluxes, Barnes et al. report severe reductions of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning from tropical rainforest to oil-palm plantations.

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          Most cited references 16

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          Quantifying the evidence for biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning and services.

          Concern is growing about the consequences of biodiversity loss for ecosystem functioning, for the provision of ecosystem services, and for human well being. Experimental evidence for a relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem process rates is compelling, but the issue remains contentious. Here, we present the first rigorous quantitative assessment of this relationship through meta-analysis of experimental work spanning 50 years to June 2004. We analysed 446 measures of biodiversity effects (252 in grasslands), 319 of which involved primary producer manipulations or measurements. Our analyses show that: biodiversity effects are weaker if biodiversity manipulations are less well controlled; effects of biodiversity change on processes are weaker at the ecosystem compared with the community level and are negative at the population level; productivity-related effects decline with increasing number of trophic links between those elements manipulated and those measured; biodiversity effects on stability measures ('insurance' effects) are not stronger than biodiversity effects on performance measures. For those ecosystem services which could be assessed here, there is clear evidence that biodiversity has positive effects on most. Whilst such patterns should be further confirmed, a precautionary approach to biodiversity management would seem prudent in the meantime.
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            Tropical forests were the primary sources of new agricultural land in the 1980s and 1990s.

            Global demand for agricultural products such as food, feed, and fuel is now a major driver of cropland and pasture expansion across much of the developing world. Whether these new agricultural lands replace forests, degraded forests, or grasslands greatly influences the environmental consequences of expansion. Although the general pattern is known, there still is no definitive quantification of these land-cover changes. Here we analyze the rich, pan-tropical database of classified Landsat scenes created by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations to examine pathways of agricultural expansion across the major tropical forest regions in the 1980s and 1990s and use this information to highlight the future land conversions that probably will be needed to meet mounting demand for agricultural products. Across the tropics, we find that between 1980 and 2000 more than 55% of new agricultural land came at the expense of intact forests, and another 28% came from disturbed forests. This study underscores the potential consequences of unabated agricultural expansion for forest conservation and carbon emissions.
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              Biodiversity Loss Threatens Human Well-Being

              Biodiversity lies at the core of ecosystem processes fueling our planet's vital life-support systems; its degradation--by us--is threatening our own well-being and will disproportionately impact the poor.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nat Commun
                Nat Commun
                Nature Communications
                Nature Pub. Group
                2041-1723
                28 October 2014
                : 5
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Systemic Conservation Biology, J.F. Blumenbach Institute of Zoology and Anthropology, University of Göttingen , Berliner Strasse 28, 37073 Göttingen, Germany
                [2 ]Department of Silviculture, Faculty of Forestry, Bogor Agricultural University , Darmaga Campus, Bogor 16680, Indonesia
                [3 ]Department of Biology, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Bogor Agricultural University , Darmaga Campus, Bogor 16680, Indonesia
                Author notes
                [*]

                These authors contributed equally to this work

                Article
                ncomms6351
                10.1038/ncomms6351
                4220457
                25350947
                Copyright © 2014, Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved.

                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 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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