Effects of nitrogen deposition on butterfly species richness on the landscape scale

Roth, Tobias and Kohli, Lukas and Rihm, Beat and Meier, Reto and Amrhein, Valentin. (2020) Effects of nitrogen deposition on butterfly species richness on the landscape scale.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/83430/

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Nitrogen (N) deposition caused by agriculture and combustion of fossil fuels is a major threat to plant diversity, but the effects on higher trophic levels are less clear. In this study we investigated how N deposition may affect butterfly species richness. We started with reviewing the literature and found that vegetation parameters might be as important as climate and habitat variables in explaining variation in butterfly species richness. It thus seems likely that increased N deposition indirectly affects butterfly communities via its influence on plant communities. We then analyzed data from the Swiss biodiversity monitoring program surveying species diversity of vascular plants and butterflies in 383 study sites of 1 km2that are regularly distributed over Switzerland, covering a modelled N deposition gradient from 2 to 44 kg N ha−1 yr−1. Using traditional linear models and structural equation models, we found that high N deposition was consistently linked to low butterfly diversity, suggesting a net loss of butterfly diversity through increased N deposition. At low elevations, N deposition may contribute to a reduction in butterfly species richness via microclimatic cooling due to increased plant biomass. At higher elevations, negative effects of N deposition on butterfly species richness may also be mediated by reduced plant species richness. We conclude that in addition to factors such as intensified agriculture, habitat fragmentation and climate change, nitrogen deposition is likely to play a key role in affecting butterfly diversity.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Behavioural Ecology (Amrhein)
UniBasel Contributors:Amrhein, Valentin
Item Type:Working Paper
Number of Pages:31
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Discussion paper / Internet publication
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Last Modified:28 Jun 2021 14:26
Deposited On:28 Jun 2021 14:26

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