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The role of diversity, body size and climate in dung removal: a correlative and experimental approach

Citation

Gebert, Friederike; Steffan-Dewenter, Ingolf; Kronbach, Patrick; Peters, Marcell (2022), The role of diversity, body size and climate in dung removal: a correlative and experimental approach, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.z08kprrgf

Abstract

The mechanisms by which climatic changes influence ecosystem functions, i.e. by a direct climatic control of ecosystem processes or by modifying richness and trait compositions of species communities, remain unresolved. This study is a contribution to this discourse by elucidating the linkages between climate, land use, biodiversity, body size and ecosystem functions. We disentangled direct climatic from biodiversity-mediated effects by using dung removal by dung beetles as a model system and by combining correlative field data and exclosure experiments along an extensive elevational gradient on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Dung removal declined with increasing elevation, being associated with a strong reduction in the richness and body size traits of dung beetle communities. Climate influenced dung removal rates by modifying biodiversity rather than by direct effects. The biodiversity-ecosystem effect was driven by a change in the mean body size of dung beetles. Dung removal rates were strongly reduced when large dung beetles were experimentally excluded. This study underscores that climate influences ecosystem functions mainly by modifying biodiversity and underpins the important role of body size for dung removal.

Funding

Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft