DOI: 10.7554/elife.86576 ISSN: 2050-084X

100 years of anthropogenic impact causes changes in freshwater functional biodiversity

Niamh Eastwood, Jiarui Zhou, Romain Derelle, Mohamed Abou-Elwafa Abdallah, William A Stubbings, Yunlu Jia, Sarah E Crawford, Thomas A Davidson, John K Colbourne, Simon Creer, Holly Bik, Henner Hollert, Luisa Orsini
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine
  • General Neuroscience

Despite efforts from scientists and regulators, biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate. Unless we find transformative solutions to preserve biodiversity, future generations may not be able to enjoy nature’s services. We have developed a conceptual framework that establishes the links between biodiversity dynamics and abiotic change through time and space using artificial intelligence. Here, we apply this framework to a freshwater ecosystem with a known history of human impact and study 100 years of community-level biodiversity, climate change and chemical pollution trends. We apply explainable network models with multimodal learning to community-level functional biodiversity measured with multilocus metabarcoding, to establish correlations with biocides and climate change records. We observed that the freshwater community assemblage and functionality changed over time without returning to its original state, even if the lake partially recovered in recent times. Insecticides and fungicides, combined with extreme temperature events and precipitation, explained up to 90% of the functional biodiversity changes. The community-level biodiversity approach used here reliably explained freshwater ecosystem shifts. These shifts were not observed when using traditional quality indices (e.g. Trophic Diatom Index). Our study advocates the use of high-throughput systemic approaches on long-term trends over species-focused ecological surveys to identify the environmental factors that cause loss of biodiversity and disrupt ecosystem functions.

More from our Archive