Tropical land use alters functional diversity of soil food webs and leads to monopolization of the detrital energy channel

  1. Zheng Zhou  Is a corresponding author
  2. Valentyna Krashevska
  3. Rahayu Widyastuti
  4. Stefan Scheu
  5. Anton Potapov
  1. University of Göttingen, Germany
  2. Institut Pertanian Bogor, Indonesia

Abstract

Agricultural expansion is among the main threats to biodiversity and functions of tropical ecosystems. It has been shown that conversion of rainforest into plantations erodes biodiversity, but further consequences for food-web structure and energetics of belowground communities remains little explored. We used a unique combination of stable isotope analysis and food web energetics to analyze in a comprehensive way consequences of the conversion of rainforest into oil palm and rubber plantations on the structure of and channeling of energy through soil animal food webs in Sumatra, Indonesia. Across the 23 animal groups studied, most of the taxa switched to freshly-fixed plant carbon (low Δ13C values) indicating 'fast' energy channeling in plantations as opposed to 'slow' energy channeling through the detrital pathway in rainforests (high Δ13C values). These shifts led to changes in isotopic divergence, dispersion, evenness and uniqueness. However, earthworms as major detritivores stayed unchanged in their trophic niche and monopolized the detrital pathway in plantations, resulting in similar energetic metrics across land-use systems. Functional diversity metrics of soil food webs were associated with reduced amount of litter, tree density and species richness in plantations, providing guidelines how to improve the complexity of the structure of and channeling of energy through soil food webs. Our results highlight the strong restructuring of soil food webs with the conversion of rainforest into plantations threatening soil functioning and ecosystem stability in the long term.

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All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting file

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Zheng Zhou

    JF Blumenbach Institute of Zoology and Anthropology, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
    For correspondence
    zzhou@gwdg.de
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-8078-6378
  2. Valentyna Krashevska

    JF Blumenbach Institute of Zoology and Anthropology, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-9765-5833
  3. Rahayu Widyastuti

    Department of Soil Sciences and Land Resources, Institut Pertanian Bogor, Bogor, Indonesia
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Stefan Scheu

    JF Blumenbach Institute of Zoology and Anthropology, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Anton Potapov

    JF Blumenbach Institute of Zoology and Anthropology, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Funding

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (192626868-SFB 990)

  • Zheng Zhou

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (192626868-SFB 990)

  • Valentyna Krashevska

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (192626868-SFB 990)

  • Rahayu Widyastuti

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (192626868-SFB 990)

  • Stefan Scheu

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (192626868-SFB 990)

  • Anton Potapov

China Scholarship Council (202004910314)

  • Zheng Zhou

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. David A. Donoso, Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Ecuador

Publication history

  1. Received: November 9, 2021
  2. Preprint posted: February 11, 2022 (view preprint)
  3. Accepted: March 29, 2022
  4. Accepted Manuscript published: March 31, 2022 (version 1)
  5. Version of Record published: April 22, 2022 (version 2)
  6. Version of Record updated: April 28, 2022 (version 3)

Copyright

© 2022, Zhou et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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  1. Zheng Zhou
  2. Valentyna Krashevska
  3. Rahayu Widyastuti
  4. Stefan Scheu
  5. Anton Potapov
(2022)
Tropical land use alters functional diversity of soil food webs and leads to monopolization of the detrital energy channel
eLife 11:e75428.
https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.75428
  1. Further reading

Further reading

    1. Ecology
    Tom WN Walker et al.
    Research Article Updated

    Climate warming is releasing carbon from soils around the world, constituting a positive climate feedback. Warming is also causing species to expand their ranges into new ecosystems. Yet, in most ecosystems, whether range expanding species will amplify or buffer expected soil carbon loss is unknown. Here, we used two whole-community transplant experiments and a follow-up glasshouse experiment to determine whether the establishment of herbaceous lowland plants in alpine ecosystems influences soil carbon content under warming. We found that warming (transplantation to low elevation) led to a negligible decrease in alpine soil carbon content, but its effects became significant and 52% ± 31% (mean ± 95% confidence intervals) larger after lowland plants were introduced at low density into the ecosystem. We present evidence that decreases in soil carbon content likely occurred via lowland plants increasing rates of root exudation, soil microbial respiration, and CO2 release under warming. Our findings suggest that warming-induced range expansions of herbaceous plants have the potential to alter climate feedbacks from this system, and that plant range expansions among herbaceous communities may be an overlooked mediator of warming effects on carbon dynamics.

    1. Ecology
    2. Epidemiology and Global Health
    Feifei Zhang et al.
    Research Article

    Background: The variation in the pathogen type as well as the spatial heterogeneity of predictors make the generality of any associations with pathogen discovery debatable. Our previous work confirmed that the association of a group of predictors differed across different types of RNA viruses, yet there have been no previous comparisons of the specific predictors for RNA virus discovery in different regions. The aim of the current study was to close the gap by investigating whether predictors of discovery rates within three regions-the United States, China, and Africa-differ from one another and from those at the global level.

    Methods: Based on a comprehensive list of human-infective RNA viruses, we collated published data on first discovery of each species in each region. We used a Poisson boosted regression tree (BRT) model to examine the relationship between virus discovery and 33 predictors representing climate, socio-economics, land use, and biodiversity across each region separately. The discovery probability in three regions in 2010-2019 was mapped using the fitted models and historical predictors.

    Results: The numbers of human-infective virus species discovered in the United States, China, and Africa up to 2019 were 95, 80 and 107 respectively, with China lagging behind the other two regions. In each region, discoveries were clustered in hotspots. BRT modelling suggested that in all three regions RNA virus discovery was better predicted by land use and socio-economic variables than climatic variables and biodiversity, though the relative importance of these predictors varied by region. Map of virus discovery probability in 2010-2019 indicated several new hotspots outside historical high-risk areas. Most new virus species since 2010 in each region (6/6 in the United States, 19/19 in China, 12/19 in Africa) were discovered in high-risk areas as predicted by our model.

    Conclusions: The drivers of spatiotemporal variation in virus discovery rates vary in different regions of the world. Within regions virus discovery is driven mainly by land-use and socio-economic variables; climate and biodiversity variables are consistently less important predictors than at a global scale. Potential new discovery hotspots in 2010-2019 are identified. Results from the study could guide active surveillance for new human-infective viruses in local high-risk areas.

    Funding: FFZ is funded by the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh (https://darwintrust.bio.ed.ac.uk/). MEJW has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 874735 (VEO) (https://www.veo-europe.eu/).