Sedimentary ancient DNA reveals a threat of warming-induced alpine habitat loss to Tibetan Plateau plant diversity


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stefan.kruse [ at ] awi.de

Abstract

Studies along elevational gradients worldwide usually find the highest plant taxa richness in mid-elevation forest belts. Hence, an increase in upper elevation diversity is expected in the course of warming-related treeline rise. Here, we use a time-series approach to infer past taxa richness from sedimentary ancient DNA from the south-eastern Tibetan Plateau over the last ~18,000 years. We find the highest total plant taxa richness during the cool phase after glacier retreat when the area contained extensive and diverse alpine habitats (14–10 ka); followed by a decline when forests expanded during the warm early- to mid-Holocene (10–3.6 ka). Livestock grazing since 3.6 ka promoted plant taxa richness only weakly. Based on these inferred dependencies, our simulation yields a substantive decrease in plant taxa richness in response to warming-related alpine habitat loss over the next centuries. Accordingly, efforts of Tibetan biodiversity conservation should include conclusions from palaeoecological evidence.



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Article
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Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
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ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
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Published
Eprint ID
54736
DOI 10.1038/s41467-021-22986-4

Cite as
Liu, S. , Kruse, S. , Scherler, D. , Ree, R. H. , Zimmermann, H. H. , Stoof-Leichsenring, K. R. , Epp, L. S. , Mischke, S. and Herzschuh, U. (2021): Sedimentary ancient DNA reveals a threat of warming-induced alpine habitat loss to Tibetan Plateau plant diversity , Nature Communications, 12 (1) . doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-22986-4


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