Jason Tylianakis talks with
ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about
this month's New Hot Paper in the field of
Article Title: Global change and species interactions
in terrestrial ecosystems
Authors: Tylianakis, JM;Didham, RK;Bascompte,
Journal: ECOL LETT, Volume: 1, Issue: 12, Page: 1351-1363,
Year: DEC 2008
* Univ Canterbury, Sch Biol Sci, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch
8140, New Zealand.
* Univ Canterbury, Sch Biol Sci, Christchurch 8140, New
(addresses have been
Why do you think your paper is highly
Global changes to the Earth's ecosystems are possibly the greatest combined
challenge that humanity must face. These changes are often studied
independently, but their effects are likely to be interactive, which could
exacerbate or even mitigate the effect of each driver in isolation, and
have potentially devastating consequences for the structure and functioning
of communities and ecosystems. Our paper brings together a large body of
research on how these changes affect interactions between different species
from different systems, and thus it provides an insight into what we may
expect in the future.
Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or
synthesis of knowledge?
"Hopefully, researchers and policymakers will place
more emphasis on managing multiple drivers of environmental
change, rather than treating each problem (e.g., climate
change) in isolation."
It is a synthesis of nearly 700 published studies documenting the effects
of all five major global environmental change drivers on a broad suite of
Would you summarize the significance of your paper
in layman's terms?
There are no longer any ecosystems on Earth that are untouched by human
influence. Global environmental changes drive extinctions and alter species
distributions, and recent evidence now shows pervasive impacts on a variety
of interactions between species. Species interactions are critically
important for ecosystem stability and functioning, yet their fragility
makes them vulnerable to environmental changes.
Each of the major drivers of global change (CO2 enrichment,
nitrogen deposition, climate change, biotic exchanges, and land-use change)
have direct effects on species interactions, but the interactions between
multiple drivers acting simultaneously hinder predictions of future
responses. Summing up these individual changes across entire networks of
species interactions yields unanticipated effects on ecosystems and the
services they provide.
How did you become involved in this research, and
were there any problems along the way? Where do you see your research
leading in the future?
Sooner or later, all field ecologists are confronted with the effects of
human changes to the environment. It's almost impossible to avoid the
topic. My lab group is currently working on responses of multitrophic
communities and networks of interacting species to different environmental
changes, and the impact of these on ecosystem stability and functioning.
Do you foresee any social or political
implications for your research?
Hopefully, researchers and policymakers will place more emphasis on
managing multiple drivers of environmental change, rather than treating
each problem (e.g., climate change) in isolation.
Dr. Jason M. Tylianakis
School of Biological Sciences
University of Canterbury
Christchurch, New Zealand
KEYWORDS: CLIMATE CHANGE; CO2; COMPETITION; DISEASE; FOOD WEB; GLOBAL
WARMING; INTERACTION EFFECT; LAND-USE CHANGE; MYCORRHIZA; NITROGEN
DEPOSITION; PARASITE; POLLINATION; SEED DISPERSAL; ELEVATED ATMOSPHERIC
CO2; MYCORRHIZAL FUNGAL COMMUNITIES; PLANT-HERBIVORE INTERACTIONS; ANIMAL
MUTUALISTIC NETWORKS; WEAK TROPHIC INTERACTIONS; RECENT CLIMATE-CHANGE;
FOOD WEBS; NITROGEN DEPOSITION; CARBON-DIOXIDE; HABITAT LOSS.