Multitrophic diversity in a biodiverse forest is highly nonlinear across spatial scales

Andreas Schuldt, Tesfaye Wubet, François Buscot, Michael Staab, Thorsten Assmann, Martin Böhnke-Kammerlander, Sabine Both, Alexandra Erfmeier, Alexandra-Maria Klein, Keping Ma, Katherina Pietsch, Sabrina Schultze, Christian Wirth, Jiayong Zhang, Pascale Zumstein, Helge Bruelheide

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31 Citations (Scopus)
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Subtropical and tropical forests are biodiversity hotspots, and untangling the spatial scaling of their diversity is fundamental for understanding global species richness and conserving biodiversity essential to human well-being. However, scale-dependent diversity distributions among coexisting taxa remain poorly understood for heterogeneous environments in biodiverse regions. We show that diversity relations among 43 taxa-including plants, arthropods and microorganisms-in a mountainous subtropical forest are highly nonlinear across spatial scales. Taxon-specific differences in β-diversity cause under- or overestimation of overall diversity by up to 50% when using surrogate taxa such as plants. Similar relationships may apply to half of all (sub)tropical forests-including major biodiversity hotspots-where high environmental heterogeneity causes high biodiversity and species turnover. Our study highlights that our general understanding of biodiversity patterns has to be improved-and that much larger areas will be required than in better-studied lowland forests-to reliably estimate biodiversity distributions and devise conservation strategies for the world's biodiverse regions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10169
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Early online date10 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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