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Mountain biodiversity and ecosystem functions: Interplay between geology and contemporary environments

Cite this dataset

Hu, Ang (2020). Mountain biodiversity and ecosystem functions: Interplay between geology and contemporary environments [Dataset]. Dryad.


Although biodiversity and ecosystem functions are strongly shaped by contemporary environments such as climate and local biotic and abiotic attributes, relatively little is known about how they depend on long-term geological processes. Here, along a 3000-m elevational gradient with tectonic faults on the Tibetan Plateau, we studied the joint effects of geological and contemporary environments on biological communities, such as the diversity and community composition of plants and soil bacteria, and ecosystem functions. We found that these biological communities and ecosystem functions generally show consistent elevational breakpoints at 2000–2800 m, which coincide with Indus-Yalu suture zone fault and are similar to the elevational breakpoints of soil bacteria on another mountain range 1000 km away. Mean annual temperature, soil pH and moisture were the primary contemporary determinants of biodiversity and ecosystem functions, which supports previous findings. However, compared to the models excluding geological processes, inclusion of geological effects, including parent rock and weathering, increased 67.9% and 35.9% of the explained variations in plant and bacterial communities, respectively. Such inclusion increased 27.6% of the explained variations in ecosystem functions. The geological processes thus provide additional links to ecosystem properties, which are prominent but show divergent effects on biodiversity and ecosystem functions: parent rock and weathering exert considerable direct effects on biodiversity, whereas indirectly influence ecosystem functions via interactions with biodiversity and contemporary environments. Thus, the integration of geological processes with environmental gradients could enhance our understanding of biodiversity and, ultimately, ecosystem functioning across different climatic zones.


National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 418,710,664,170,108,000,000,000