Loss of tree species has cumulative affect on biodiversity


Atlantic oak woodlands on the west coast of Scotland. Credit Ruth Mitchell

Diseases affecting totally different UK tree species have been proven to have a multiplying impact on the lack of related biodiversity, in accordance with new analysis printed within the Journal of Ecology by James Hutton Institute scientists and companions within the UK and Portugal. The analysis workforce reveals that the decline of ash and oak timber might have an effect on extra species than simply those that solely use oak and ash as their habitat.

In the UK, the widespread ash hosts 45 species which are solely discovered on ash trees, and sessile and pedunculate oaks host 326 species which are solely discovered on oak trees. However, if each tree species have been to be misplaced, the variety of species in danger is 512 as a result of a further 141 species that solely use oak and ash.

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Lead writer of the research Dr. Ruth Mitchell, an ecologist inside the James Hutton Institute’s Ecological Sciences division, mentioned that “When a plant pest or pathogen kills a plant, particularly when it results in the wide-spread loss of one plant species, it also impacts on those species such as insects, mosses, lichens, mammals, birds and fungi that use that plant species for feeding, for nesting or as a living space.”

“The impact of plant pests and pathogens on associated biodiversity is rarely considered when risk assessments for plant pests and pathogens new to the UK are made.”

“This work shows that such impacts may be considerable, particularly if multiple host plants are lost that support the same biodiversity, as is the case with the number of different diseases currently impacting the UK’s trees.”

Loss of tree species has cumulative impact on biodiversity
Dead oak tree as a result of acute oak decline. Credit Ruth Mitchell

Many species use ash, oak and different tree species and thus ought to be resilient to the lack of ash and oak as they’ll use different tree species.

However, when the researchers checked out 24 blended ash and oak woodlands inside the UK, they discovered that solely 21% of the websites have been capable of proceed to help species that use ash and oak if ash and oak have been misplaced. This was as a result of the opposite tree species that may help this biodiversity weren’t current on the website, though the positioning circumstances have been typically appropriate for them to develop.

The authors counsel that in threat assessments, greater affect scores ought to be given to pests and pathogens affecting hosts occurring with different host plant species already impacted by pests and pathogens.

The work gives additional help for a significant theme in current steerage on sustainable forestry, which advocates that species variety of multipurpose and conservation woodlands ought to be elevated to reinforce their resilience.

Dr. Mitchell added that “current pest and pathogen risk assessment approaches that ignore the cumulative, cascading effects shown in this study may allow an insidious, mostly overlooked, driver of biodiversity loss to continue.”

Defra Chief Plant Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spence, commented that “this work reiterates the importance of protecting our native trees. It confirms that the value of our interconnected ecosystems is often more than may immediately meet the eye, and the importance of intelligent woodland management plans to support resilience. Such combinatorial analysis is beneficial to our understanding and further development of available ‘toolkit’.”

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More data:
Ruth J. Mitchell et al, Cumulative affect assessments of a number of host species loss from plant illnesses present disproportionate reductions in related biodiversity, Journal of Ecology (2021). DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.13798

Loss of tree species has cumulative affect on biodiversity (2021, November 19)
retrieved 19 November 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-11-loss-tree-species-cumulative-impact.html

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