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Interaction of climate change, potentially toxic elements (PTEs), and topography on plant diversity and ecosystem functions in a high-altitude region of the Tibetan Plateau
  • +13
  • jingzhao Lu,
  • Hongwei Lu,
  • Brusseau Mark,
  • Li He,
  • Gorlier Alessandra,
  • Tianci Yao,
  • Peipei Tian,
  • Sansan Feng,
  • Qing Yu,
  • Qianwen Nie,
  • Yiyang Yang,
  • Chuang Yin,
  • Meng Tang,
  • Wei Feng,
  • Yuxuan Xue,
  • Fangping Yin
jingzhao Lu
Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Hongwei Lu
Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Brusseau Mark
The University of Arizona Department of Soil Water and Environmental Science
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Li He
Tianjin University
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Gorlier Alessandra
The University of Arizona School of Natural Resources and the Environment
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Tianci Yao
Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Peipei Tian
Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Sansan Feng
North China Electric Power University
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Qing Yu
Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Qianwen Nie
Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Yiyang Yang
Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Chuang Yin
Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Meng Tang
Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Wei Feng
Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Yuxuan Xue
Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Fangping Yin
Tianjin University
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Abstract

Mining activities that shape geographical patterns of biodiversity in individual regions are increasingly understood, but the complex interactions on broad scales and in changing environments are still unclear. In this study, we developed a series of empirical models that simulate the changes in biodiversity and ecosystem functions in mine-affected regions along elevation gradients (1500-3600 m a.s.l) in the metal-rich Qilian Mountains (~800 km) on the northeastern Tibetan Plateau (China). Our results confirmed the crucial role of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) dispersal, topography, and climatic heterogeneity in the diversification of plant community composition. On average, 54% of the changes in ecosystem functions were explained by the interactions among topography, climate, and PTEs. However, merely 30% of the changes were correlated with a single driver. Plant species composition (explained variables = 94.8%) changed more in lowland than in highland areas. The changes in species composition (explained variables = 94.8%) in the PTE-polluted habitats located in the warm low-elevation deserts and grasslands were greater than those occurring in the alpine deserts and grasslands. The ecosystem functions (soil characteristics, nutrient migration, and plant biomass) experienced greater changes in the humid low-elevation grasslands and alpine deserts. The effect of topography (i.e., slope and aspect) was less important than that of climatic heterogeneity (MAT, win10, and ET0) in predicting ecosystem functions of PTE-polluted habitats. Our results suggest that the processes driven by climate or other factors can result in high-altitude PTE-affected habitat expansions or contractions.

Peer review status:Published

Jul 2021Published in Chemosphere volume 275 on pages 130099. 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2021.130099