From coral reefs to Joshua trees: What ecological interactions teach us about the adaptive capacity of biodiversity in the Anthropocene.
Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences
2022; 377 (1857): 20210389
The pervasive loss of biodiversity in the Anthropocene necessitates rapid assessments of ecosystems to understand how they will respond to anthropogenic environmental change. Many studies have sought to describe the adaptive capacity (AC) of individual species, a measure that encompasses a species' ability to respond and adapt to change. Only those adaptive mechanisms that can be used over the next few decades (e.g. via novel interactions, behavioural changes, hybridization, migration, etc.) are relevant to the timescale set by the rapid changes of the Anthropocene. The impacts of species loss cascade through ecosystems, yet few studies integrate the capacity of ecological networks to adapt to change with the ACs of its species. Here, we discuss three ecosystems and how their ecological networks impact the AC of species and vice versa. A more holistic perspective that considers the AC of species with respect to their ecological interactions and functions will provide more predictive power and a deeper understanding of what factors are most important to a species' survival. We contend that the AC of a species, combined with its role in ecosystem function and stability, must guide decisions in assigning 'risk' and triaging biodiversity loss in the Anthropocene. This article is part of the theme issue 'Ecological complexity and the biosphere: the next 30 years'.
View details for DOI 10.1098/rstb.2021.0389
View details for PubMedID 35757872