Complex long-term biodiversity change among invertebrates, bryophytes and lichens
Large-scale biodiversity changes are measured mainly through the responses of a few taxonomic groups. Much less is known about the trends affecting most invertebrates and other neglected taxa, and it is unclear whether well-studied taxa, such as vertebrates, reflect changes in wider biodiversity. Here, we present and analyse trends in the UK distributions of over 5,000 species of invertebrates, bryophytes and lichens, measured as changes in occupancy. Our results reveal substantial variation in the magnitude, direction and timing of changes over the last 45 years. Just one of the four major groups analysed, terrestrial non-insect invertebrates, exhibits the declining trend reported among vertebrates and butterflies. Both terrestrial insects and the bryophytes and lichens group increased in average occupancy. A striking pattern is found among freshwater species, which have undergone a strong recovery since the mid-1990s after two decades of decline. We show that, while average occupancy among most groups appears to have been stable or increasing, there has been substantial change in the relative commonness and rarity of individual species, indicating considerable turnover in community composition. Additionally, large numbers of species have experienced substantial declines. Our results suggest a more complex pattern of biodiversity change in the United Kingdom than previously reported.
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Nature Ecology & Evolution
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