Herbivores rescue diversity in warming tundra by modulating trait-dependent species losses and gains
Kaarlejärvi, Elina; Eskelinen, Anu; Olofsson, Johan (2017-09-04)
Kaarlejärvi, E., Eskelinen, A., Olofsson, J. (2017) Herbivores rescue diversity in warming tundra by modulating trait-dependent species losses and gains. Nature Communications, 8 (1), doi:10.1038/s41467-017-00554-z
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Climate warming is altering the diversity of plant communities but it remains unknown which species will be lost or gained under warming, especially considering interactions with other factors such as herbivory and nutrient availability. Here, we experimentally test effects of warming, mammalian herbivory and fertilization on tundra species richness and investigate how plant functional traits affect losses and gains. We show that herbivory reverses the impact of warming on diversity: in the presence of herbivores warming increases species richness through higher species gains and lower losses, while in the absence of herbivores warming causes higher species losses and thus decreases species richness. Herbivores promote gains of short-statured species under warming, while herbivore removal and fertilization increase losses of short-statured and resource-conservative species through light limitation. Our results demonstrate that both rarity and traits forecast species losses and gains, and mammalian herbivores are essential for preventing trait-dependent extinctions and mitigate diversity loss under warming and eutrophication.
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