A ten-year study of a subtropical forest in China by a German-led international team of scientists shows that the variety of animals and fungus species has a decisive role in the health of forest ecosystems.
Researchers, led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research and the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, studied the complex interdependencies between the various species of beetles, spiders, ants, woodlice and fungi in Gutianshan Nature Reserve, Zheijian Province, southeast China.
They also investigated a variety of processes essential for the functioning of the forests, including the growth of timber, the prevention of soil erosion and the recycling of nutrients.
The study showed that individual functions and multifunctionality are more strongly affected by soil biodiversity, fungi and microorganisms than by the amount of tree species.
“By studying ecosystems and their complex interactions between species, we can learn much about ‘systems thinking’, which we need to address complex challenges such as climate change,” says Tim Christophersen, Coordinator of the Freshwater, Land and Climate Branch at UN Environment.
“Biodiversity is at the heart of climate resilience and needs more attention in our climate action.”
The bulk of the planet’s biodiversity lies in tropical terrestrial regions, in forests such as the one scrutinized by scientists in this study.
Multitrophic biodiversity could help in understanding the drivers of ecosystem multifunctionality in biodiverse subtropical forests.