It might sound weird, but it's true: the steppes of Eastern Europe are home to a similar number of plant species as the regions of the Amazon rainforest.
It might sound weird, but it's true: the steppes of Eastern Europe are home to a similar number of plant species as the regions of the Amazon rainforest. However, this is only apparent when species are counted in small sampling areas, rather than hectares of land. An international team of researchers led by the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig has now shown how much estimates of plant diversity change when the sampling area ranges from a few square metres to hectares. Their results have been published in the journal "Nature Communications" and could be utilised in new, more tailored nature conservation concepts.
In their study, the team analysed a dataset of around 170,000 vegetation plots from all of the Earth’s climate zones. The data included information on all of the plant species found at a location and the coordinates of the respective area under study. The data was taken from the globally unique vegetation database "sPlot", which is located at iDiv.
"Most studies on global biodiversity are conducted on a relatively large scale, for example at a state or provincial scale. We wanted to find out how much results differ when smaller areas are examined," says Professor Helge Bruelheide from MLU. The team used artificial intelligence to investigate, among other things, the relationship between the number of plant species and the size of the area under study.
Read more at Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
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