Impacts of detritivore diversity loss on instream decomposition are greatest in the tropics

Luz Boyero, Naiara López-Rojo, Alan M. Tonin, Javier Pérez, Francisco Correa-Araneda, Richard G. Pearson, Jaime Bosch, Ricardo J. Albariño, Sankarappan Anbalagan, Leon A. Barmuta, Ana Basaguren, Francis J. Burdon, Adriano Caliman, Marcos Callisto, Adolfo R. Calor, Ian C. Campbell, Bradley J. Cardinale, J. Jesús Casas, Ana M. Chará-Serna, Eric ChauvetSzymon Ciapała, Checo Colón-Gaud, Aydeé Cornejo, Aaron M. Davis, Monika Degebrodt, Emerson S. Dias, María E. Díaz, Michael M. Douglas, Andrea C. Encalada, Ricardo Figueroa, Alexander S. Flecker, Tadeusz Fleituch, Erica A. García, Gabriela García, Pavel E. García, Mark O. Gessner, Jesús E. Gómez, Sergio Gómez, Jose F. Gonçalves, Manuel A.S. Graça, Daniel C. Gwinn, Robert O. Hall, Neusa Hamada, Cang Hui, Daichi Imazawa, Tomoya Iwata, Samuel K. Kariuki, Andrea Landeira-Dabarca, Kelsey Laymon, María Leal, Richard Marchant, Renato T. Martins, Frank O. Masese, Megan Maul, Brendan G. McKie, Adriana O. Medeiros, Charles M.M’ Erimba, Jen A. Middleton, Silvia Monroy, Timo Muotka, Junjiro N. Negishi, Alonso Ramírez, John S. Richardson, José Rincón, Juan Rubio-Ríos, Gisele M. dos Santos, Romain Sarremejane, Fran Sheldon, Augustine Sitati, Nathalie S.D. Tenkiano, Scott D. Tiegs, Janine R. Tolod, Michael Venarsky, Anne Watson, Catherine M. Yule

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35 Scopus citations


The relationship between detritivore diversity and decomposition can provide information on how biogeochemical cycles are affected by ongoing rates of extinction, but such evidence has come mostly from local studies and microcosm experiments. We conducted a globally distributed experiment (38 streams across 23 countries in 6 continents) using standardised methods to test the hypothesis that detritivore diversity enhances litter decomposition in streams, to establish the role of other characteristics of detritivore assemblages (abundance, biomass and body size), and to determine how patterns vary across realms, biomes and climates. We observed a positive relationship between diversity and decomposition, strongest in tropical areas, and a key role of abundance and biomass at higher latitudes. Our results suggest that litter decomposition might be altered by detritivore extinctions, particularly in tropical areas, where detritivore diversity is already relatively low and some environmental stressors particularly prevalent.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3700
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


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