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Other publication in scientific journal2021Peer reviewed

Understanding the connectivity of ecosystems in the Anthropocene

Burdon, Francis J.


In focus: Nash, L. N., Antiqueira, P. A. P., Romero, G. Q., de Omena, P. M., and Kratina, P. (2021). Warming of aquatic ecosystems disrupts aquatic-terrestrial linkages in the tropics. Journal of Animal Ecology. Meta-ecosystem ecology offers a holistic framework linking populations, communities and ecosystems in heterogeneous landscapes. This perspective is particularly relevant as anthropogenic drivers of environmental change proliferate, with the potential for impacts to propagate to spatially connected habitats. In aquatic ecosystems, reciprocal exchanges of energy, materials and organisms that form strong connections with adjacent terrestrial habitats can be disrupted by human impacts. Nash et al. (2021) demonstrate how a warming environment alters aquatic-terrestrial linkages by measuring rates of aquatic insect emergence and decomposition in a tropical context. While decomposition predictably increased with warming, insect emergence was greatly reduced. Using metabolic theory, I highlight how these results deviate from previous studies and help underscore the need for comparative research in different biomes. I conclude by exploring where progress can be made in quantifying, predicting and utilising the connectivity of ecosystems to fully realise the potential of a meta-ecosystem perspective and help address the dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.


aquatic insects; aquatic-terrestrial linkages; climate change; decomposition; emergence; metabolic theory; meta-ecosystem; warming

Published in

Journal of Animal Ecology
2021, Volume: 90, number: 7, pages: 1600-1604 Publisher: WILEY

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG13 Climate action
    SDG15 Life on land

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