Direct and cascading impacts of tropical land-use change on multi-trophic biodiversity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The conversion of tropical rainforest to agricultural systems such as oil palm alters biodiversity across a large range of interacting taxa and trophic levels. Yet, it remains unclear how direct and cascading effects of land-use change simultaneously drive ecological shifts. Combining data from a multi-taxon research initiative in Sumatra, Indonesia, we show that direct and cascading land-use effects alter biomass and species richness of taxa across trophic levels ranging from microorganisms to birds. Tropical land use resulted in increases in biomass and species richness via bottom-up cascading effects, but reductions via direct effects. When considering direct and cascading effects together, land use was found to reduce biomass and species richness, with increasing magnitude at higher trophic levels. Our analyses disentangle the multifaceted effects of land-use change on tropical ecosystems, revealing that biotic interactions on broad taxonomic scales influence the ecological outcome of anthropogenic perturbations to natural ecosystems.


  • Andrew D. Barnes
  • Kara Allen
  • Holger Kreft
  • Marife D. Corre
  • Malte Jochum
  • Edzo Veldkamp
  • Rolf Daniel
  • Kevin Darras
  • Lisa H. Denmead
  • Noor Farikhah Haneda
  • Dietrich Hertel
  • Alexander Knohl
  • Martyna M. Kotowska
  • Syahrul Kurniawan
  • Ana Meijide
  • Katja Rembold
  • Walesa Edho Prabowo
  • Dominik Schneider
  • Teja Tscharntke
  • Ulrich Brose
External organisations
  • University of Göttingen
  • German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
  • Leipzig University
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Bern
  • Bogor Agricultural University
  • Friedrich Schiller University Jena
  • Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology
  • University of Brawijaya
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
  • Ecology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1511-1519
Number of pages9
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 1
Publication categoryResearch