Synergistic and antagonistic interactions of future land use and climate change on river fish assemblages

Johannes Radinger, Franz Hölker, Pavel Horký, Ondřej Slavík, Nicolas Dendoncker, Christian Wolter

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    River ecosystems are threatened by future changes in land use and climatic conditions. However, little is known of the influence of interactions of these two dominant global drivers of change on ecosystems. Does the interaction amplify (synergistic interaction) or buffer (antagonistic interaction) the impacts and does their interaction effect differ in magnitude, direction and spatial extent compared to single independent pressures. In this study, we model the impact of single and interacting effects of land use and climate change on the spatial distribution of 33 fish species in the Elbe River. The varying effects were modeled using step-wise boosted regression trees based on 250 m raster grid cells. Species-specific models were built for both 'moderate' and 'extreme' future land use and climate change scenarios to assess synergistic, additive and antagonistic interaction effects on species losses, species gains and diversity indices and to quantify their spatial distribution within the Elbe River network. Our results revealed species richness is predicted to increase by 0.7-2.9 species by 2050 across the entire river network. Changes in species richness are likely to be spatially variable with significant changes predicted for 56-85% of the river network. Antagonistic interactions would dominate species losses and gains in up to 75% of the river network. In contrast, synergistic and additive effects would occur in only 20% and 16% of the river network, respectively. The magnitude of the interaction was negatively correlated with the magnitudes of the single independent effects of land use and climate change. Evidence is provided to show that future land use and climate change effects are highly interactive resulting in species range shifts that would be spatially variable in size and characteristic. These findings emphasize the importance of adaptive river management and the design of spatially connected conservation areas to compensate for these high species turnovers and range shifts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1505-1522
    Number of pages18
    JournalGlobal Change Biology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


    • Antagonism
    • Climate change
    • Fish diversity
    • Land use change
    • Multiple pressures
    • River catchment
    • River Elbe
    • Synergism


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