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Human pressure drives biodiversity–multifunctionality relationships in large Neotropical wetlands

Abstract

Many studies have shown that biodiversity regulates multiple ecological functions that are needed to maintain the productivity of a variety of ecosystem types. What is unknown is how human activities may alter the ‘multifunctionality’ of ecosystems through both direct impacts on ecosystems and indirect effects mediated by the loss of multifaceted biodiversity. Using an extensive database of 72 lakes spanning four large Neotropical wetlands in Brazil, we demonstrate that species richness and functional diversity across multiple larger (fish and macrophytes) and smaller (microcrustaceans, rotifers, protists and phytoplankton) groups of aquatic organisms are positively associated with ecosystem multifunctionality. Whereas the positive association between smaller organisms and multifunctionality broke down with increasing human pressure, this positive relationship was maintained for larger organisms despite the increase in human pressure. Human pressure impacted multifunctionality both directly and indirectly through reducing species richness and functional diversity of multiple organismal groups. These findings provide further empirical evidence about the importance of aquatic biodiversity for maintaining wetland multifunctionality. Despite the key role of biodiversity, human pressure reduces the diversity of multiple groups of aquatic organisms, eroding their positive impacts on a suite of ecological functions that sustain wetlands.

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Fig. 1: Intensity of the HFP across Brazil and four Neotropical wetlands.
Fig. 2: Relationship between the species richness of aquatic organisms and multifunctionality in Neotropical wetlands.
Fig. 3: Relationship between the functional diversity of aquatic organisms and multifunctionality in Neotropical wetlands.
Fig. 4: Effect of HFP on the relationship between species richness and multifunctionality in Neotropical wetlands.
Fig. 5: Effect of HFP on the relationship between functional diversity and multifunctionality in Neotropical wetlands.
Fig. 6: The relationship between HFP, climate and water properties and biodiversity and ecosystem multifunctionality.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are publicly available on Zenodo Digital Repository at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6406782. Source data are provided with this paper.

Code availability

The code that supports the findings and figures of this study is available on Zenodo Digital Repository at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6406786.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the Brazilian National Council of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq) and Fundação Araucaria for all financial support to the SISBIOTA project (MCT/CNPq/MEC/CAPES/FNDCT number 47/2010). We are grateful to Nupelia, INPA, UnB, UFMS for providing access to infrastructure and sampling facilities. D.A.M. received a scholarship from the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPQ: process number 141239/2019-0). F.M.L.-T. received a scholarship from CNPq and CAPES. G.Q.R. was supported by FAPESP (grants 2018/12225- 0 and 2019/08474- 8), CNPq-Brazil productivity grant and funding from the Royal Society, Newton Advanced Fellowship (grant number NAF/R2/180791). P.K. was supported by the Royal Society grant, Newton Advanced Fellowship (number 249 NAF/R2/180791). D.M.P. was supported by Royal Society grant (NMG\R1\201121). F.T.d.M. was supported by ANII National System of Researchers (SNI) and PEDECIBA Geosciencias and Biología. E.J. was supported by the TÜBITAK programme BIDEB2232 (project 118C250). F.A.L.-T., L.F.M.V. and R.P.M. were supported by productivity researchers receiving grants from CNPq and CAPES.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

D.A.M., F.M.L.-T., G.Q.R. and R.P.M. developed the original ideas presented in the manuscript; F.A.L.-T. and L.F.M.V. coordinated all the field operations; HFP calculation was performed by T.S.-S. Functional analysis was performed by D.A.M. Statistical modelling was performed by D.A.M. The first draft of the paper was written by D.A.M., and further drafts were written by D.A.M., G.Q.R., R.P.M., B.J.C., P.K., D.M.P., F.T.d.M., E.J. and J.H., and all of the authors contributed to the subsequent drafts.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dieison A. Moi.

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Nature Ecology & Evolution thanks Robert Ptacnik, Rajeev Pillay and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 The relationship between the species richness of aquatic organisms and single ecosystem functions in Neotropical wetlands.

Significant links between the species richness of single organismal group and multi-diversity (joint richness of seven organismal groups) with 11 individual ecosystem functions. Solid coloured lines are extracted from linear mixed-effect models and show the significant relationships with each organismal group and ecosystem function. Non-significant relationships are not shown. Full model results are provided in Supplementary Table 5. All single ecosystem functions are scaled (z-score standard) for better graphical interpretation.

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 2 The relationship between the functional diversity of aquatic organisms and single ecosystem functions in Neotropical wetlands.

Significant links between the functional diversity of single organismal group and multi-diversity (joint functional diversity of seven organismal groups) with 11 individual ecosystem functions. Solid coloured lines are extracted from linear mixed-effect models and show the significant relationships with each organismal group and ecosystem function. Non-significant relationships are not shown. Full model results are provided in Supplementary Table 6. All single ecosystem functions are scaled (z-score standard) for better graphical interpretation.

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 3 Importance of species richness and ecosystem drivers for multifunctionality in Neotropical wetlands.

Standardized total effects (direct plus indirect effects) of seven ecosystem drivers and species richness to multifunctionality. The results were derived from the structural equation models (Fig. 5a). Species richness represents a composite variable that includes information about the species richness of seven groups of aquatic organisms. For the complete estimated model, see Supplementary Table 8.

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 4 Importance of functional diversity and ecosystem drivers for multifunctionality in Neotropical wetlands.

Standardized total effects (direct plus indirect effects) of seven ecosystem drivers and functional diversity to multifunctionality. The results were derived from the structural equation models (Fig. 5c). Functional diversity is a composite variable that includes information about the functional diversity of seven groups of aquatic organisms. For the complete estimated model, see Supplementary Table 9.

Source data

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Methods, Figs. 1–11 and Tables 1–12.

Reporting Summary.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 2

Statistical source data—link between the species richness of multiple taxonomic groups and the ecosystem multifunctionality.

Source Data Fig. 3

Statistical source data—link between the functional diversity of multiple taxonomic groups and the ecosystem multifunctionality.

Source Data Fig. 4

Statistical source data—link between the species richness of multiple taxonomic groups and the ecosystem multifunctionality across different HFP intensities.

Source Data Fig. 5

Statistical source data—link between the functional diversity of multiple taxonomic groups and the ecosystem multifunctionality across different HFP intensities.

Source Data Fig. 6

Statistical source data—SEM results.

Source Data Extended Data Fig. 1

Statistical source data—link between the species richness of multiple taxonomic groups and the individual ecosystem functions.

Source Data Extended Data Fig. 2

Statistical source data—link between the functional diversity of multiple taxonomic groups and the individual ecosystem functions.

Source Data Extended Data Fig. 3

Statistical source data—effects of drivers on multifunctionality—richness model.

Source Data Extended Data Fig. 4

Statistical source data—effects of drivers on multifunctionality—functional diversity model.

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Moi, D.A., Lansac-Tôha, F.M., Romero, G.Q. et al. Human pressure drives biodiversity–multifunctionality relationships in large Neotropical wetlands. Nat Ecol Evol 6, 1279–1289 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-022-01827-7

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