Research ArticleECOLOGY

Climate warming promotes species diversity, but with greater taxonomic redundancy, in complex environments

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Science Advances  14 Jul 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 7, e1700866
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700866

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Climate warming is predicted to alter species interactions, which could potentially lead to extinction events. However, there is an ongoing debate whether the effects of warming on biodiversity may be moderated by biodiversity itself. We tested warming effects on soil nematodes, one of the most diverse and abundant metazoans in terrestrial ecosystems, along a gradient of environmental complexity created by a gradient of plant species richness. Warming increased nematode species diversity in complex (16-species mixtures) plant communities (by ~36%) but decreased it in simple (monocultures) plant communities (by ~39%) compared to ambient temperature. Further, warming led to higher levels of taxonomic relatedness in nematode communities across all levels of plant species richness. Our results highlight both the need for maintaining species-rich plant communities to help offset detrimental warming effects and the inability of species-rich plant communities to maintain nematode taxonomic distinctness when warming occur.

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