Tag Archives: species richness

Wilderness: A Place of Untouched Ecological Processes

Image Credit: European Wilderness Society, CC BY 4.0, Image Cropped

What comes to your mind when you think of Wilderness? Maybe it is a dense rainforest filled with a cacophony of bird calls, or plain filled with lagre grazing animals and free-roaming carnivores? They certainly qualify, but by definition, Wilderness is any area that hasn’t (or has only slightly) been modified by human activity in the past. This means that Wilderness areas can be incredibly diverse, from the aforementioned tropical forest to a murky swamp. These areas represent nature in its purest form, with the absence of human interventions allowing for dynamic, open-ended natural processes. These processes not only create marvelous landscapes and offer refuge for species, but also provide many benefits for humans.

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Where the Wild Things Are

Urban aliens and threatened near-naturals: Land-cover affects the species richness of alien- and threatened species in an urban- rural setting (2020), Petersen et al., Scientific Reports, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-65459-2

The Crux

Land-use changes (in particular, urbanisation and everything related to it) have huge effects on biodiversity patterns – some habitats can support populations of many different species, others cannot. This seems intuitive on a large scale (think a rainforest vs. a large, industrialised city) and on a small scale (a small patch of concrete vs. a patch of soil in a forest), but what about on a medium scale, more relevant to management organisations? How different species of plants, animals and fungi are distributed in space on such a meso-scale is far more relevant to everyday management, compared to say a global distribution, or the organisation of a 10 x 10 metre quadrant.

Today’s authors (myself and my current supervisors) looked at how species richness changes with land-cover on a municipality scale. We also looked at whether these patterns differ if one considers the total number of species, threatened- or alien ones, and whether animals, plants and fungi react to concrete vs. forests in the same way.

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Grazers as Managers

Image Credit: Andrea Linja, Pixabay Licence, Image Cropped

Livestock grazing regulates ecosystem multifunctionality in semiarid grassland (2018) Ren et al., Functional Ecology, DOI: http://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.13215

The Crux

Grassland is the most common type of land cover on our planet, and about one third of the Earth’s population depends on these ecosystems to survive. Grasslands are not only the most common terrestrial ecosystem, but they are also some of the most vulnerable to degradation.

Sustainable grazing practices on these ecosystems are incredibly important when trying to maintain or improve the health of the many organisms that call grasslands home. The challenge with maintaining ecosystem multifunctionality is that trade offs between different functionalities are common, making it difficult to accomplish every goal at once. When managers try to maximize the productivity of a system this may reduce the overall diversity, as this often involves promoting the dominant plant species at the expense of every other species. The authors of this study were interested in determining the effects of grazing on environmental multifunctionality, so they analyzed what impact grazers had on multiple traits of the grassland ecosystem. Read more