skip to main content


Title: Body size and food–web interactions mediate species range shifts under warming
Species ranges are shifting in response to climate change, but most predictions disregard food–web interactions and, in particular, if and how such interactions change through time. Predator–prey interactions could speed up species range shifts through enemy release or create lags through biotic resistance. Here, we developed a spatially explicit model of interacting species, each with a thermal niche and embedded in a size-structured food–web across a temperature gradient that was then exposed to warming. We also created counterfactual single species models to contrast and highlight the effect of trophic interactions on range shifts. We found that dynamic trophic interactions hampered species range shifts across 450 simulated food–webs with up to 200 species each over 200 years of warming. All species experiencing dynamic trophic interactions shifted more slowly than single-species models would predict. In addition, the trailing edges of larger bodied species ranges shifted especially slowly because of ecological subsidies from small shifting prey. Trophic interactions also reduced the numbers of locally novel species, novel interactions and productive species, thus maintaining historical community compositions for longer. Current forecasts ignoring dynamic food–web interactions and allometry may overestimate species' tendency to track climate change.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1426891 1616821 1743711
NSF-PAR ID:
10373842
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume:
289
Issue:
1972
ISSN:
0962-8452
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Increased global temperatures caused by climate change are causing species to shift their ranges and colonize new sites, creating novel assemblages that have historically not interacted. Species interactions play a central role in the response of ecosystems to climate change, but the role of trophic interactions in facilitating or preventing range expansions is largely unknown.

    The goal of our study was to understand how predators influence the ability of range‐shifting prey to successfully establish in newly available habitat following climate warming. We hypothesized that fish predation facilitates the establishment of colonizing zooplankton populations, because fish preferentially consume larger species that would otherwise competitively exclude smaller‐bodied colonists.

    We conducted a mesocosm experiment with zooplankton communities and their fish predators from lakes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, USA. We tested the effect of fish predation on the establishment and persistence of a zooplankton community when introduced in the presence of higher‐ and lower‐elevation communities at two experimental temperatures in field mesocosms.

    We found that predators reduce the abundance of larger‐bodied residents from the alpine and facilitate the establishment of new lower‐elevation species. In addition, fish predation and warming independently reduced the average body size of zooplankton by up to 30%. This reduction in body size offset the direct effect of warming‐induced increases in population growth rates, leading to no net change in zooplankton biomass or trophic cascade strength.

    We found support for a shift to smaller species with climate change through two mechanisms: (a) the direct effects of warming on developmental rates and (b) size‐selective predation that altered the identity of species’ that could colonize new higher elevation habitat. Our results suggest that predators can amplify the rate of range shifts by consuming larger‐bodied residents and facilitating the establishment of new species. However, the effects of climate warming were dampened by reducing the average body size of community members, leading to no net change in ecosystem function, despite higher growth rates. This work suggests that trophic interactions play a role in the reorganization of regional communities under climate warming.

     
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Climate change is redistributing biodiversity globally and distributional shifts have been found to follow local climate velocities. It is largely assumed that marine endotherms such as cetaceans might shift more slowly than ectotherms in response to warming and would primarily follow changes in prey, but distributional shifts in cetaceans are difficult to quantify. Here we use data from fisheries bycatch and strandings to examine changes in the distribution of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas), and assess shifts in pilot whales and their prey relative to climate velocity in a rapidly warming region of the Northwest Atlantic. We found a poleward shift in pilot whale distribution that exceeded climate velocity and occurred at more than three times the rate of fish and invertebrate prey species. Fish and invertebrates shifted at rates equal to or slower than expected based on climate velocity, with more slowly shifting species moving to deeper waters. We suggest that traits such as mobility, diet specialization, and thermoregulatory strategy are central to understanding and anticipating range shifts. Our findings highlight the potential for trait-mediated climate shifts to decouple relationships between endothermic cetaceans and their ectothermic prey, which has important implications for marine food web dynamics and ecosystem stability.

     
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Changes in seasonality associated with climate warming (e.g. temperature, growing season duration) are likely to alter invertebrate prey biomass and availability in aquatic ecosystems through direct and indirect influences on physiology and phenology, particularly in arctic lakes. However, despite warmer thermal regimes, photoperiod will remain unchanged such that potential shifts resulting from longer and warmer growing seasons could be limited by availability of sunlight, especially at lower trophic levels. Thus, a better understanding of warming effects on invertebrate prey throughout the growing season (e.g. early, peak, late) is important to understand arctic lake food‐web dynamics in a changing climate.

    Here, we use a multifaceted approach to evaluate prey availability to predators in lakes of arctic Alaska. In a laboratory mesocosm experiment, we measured different metrics of abundance for snails (Lymnaea elodes) and zooplankton (Daphnia middendorffiana) across three time periods (early, mid‐ and late growing season) and across three temperature and photoperiod treatments (control, increased temperature and increased temperature × photoperiod). Additionally, we used generalised additive models and generalised additive mixed‐effects models to relate long‐term empirical observations of zooplankton biomass (1983–2015) to observed temperature regimes in an arctic lake. We then simulated zooplankton biomass for the warmest temperature observations across the growing season to inform likely zooplankton biomass regimes under future change.

    We observed variable responses by snails and zooplankton across experiments and treatments. Early in the growing season, snail development was accelerated at multiple life stages (e.g. egg and juvenile). In mid‐season, in accordance with warmer temperatures, we observed significantly increasedDaphniaabundances. However, in the late season,Daphniaappeared to be limited by photoperiod. Confirming our experimental results, our models of zooplankton biomass showed an increase of nearly 20% in warmer years. Further, these model estimates could be conservative as the consumptive demand of fishes may increase in warmer years as well.

    Overall, our results highlight the importance of interactive effects of temperature and seasonality. Based primarily on temperature, we can readily predict the response of fish metabolism in warmer temperatures. However, in this context, we generally require a better understanding of climate‐driven responses of important invertebrate prey resources. Our results suggest invertebrate prey biomass and availability are likely to respond positively with climate change based on temperature and seasonality, as well as proportionally to the metabolic requirements of fish predators. While further research is necessary to understand how other food‐web components will respond climate change, our findings suggest that the fish community at the top of arctic lake food webs will have adequate prey base in a warming climate.

     
    more » « less
  4. Aquatic ecosystems are increasingly threatened by multiple human-induced stressors associated with climate and anthropogenic changes, including warming, nutrient pollution, harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, and changes in CO 2 and pH. These stressors may affect systems additively and synergistically but may also counteract each other. The resultant ecosystem changes occur rapidly, affecting both biotic and abiotic components and their interactions. Moreover, the complexity of interactions increases as one ascends the food web due to differing sensitivities and exposures among life stages and associated species interactions, such as competition and predation. There is also a need to further understand nontraditional food web interactions, such as mixotrophy, which is the ability to combine photosynthesis and feeding by a single organism. The complexity of these interactions and nontraditional food webs presents challenges to ecosystem modeling and management. Developing ecological models to understand multistressor effects is further challenged by the lack of sufficient data on the effects of interactive stressors across different trophic levels and the substantial variability in climate changes on regional scales. To obtain data on a broad suite of interactions, a nested set of experiments can be employed. Modular, coupled, multitrophic level models will provide the flexibility to explore the additive, amplified, propagated, antagonistic, and/or reduced effects that can emerge from the interactions of multiple stressors. Here, the stressors associated with eutrophication and climate change are reviewed, and then example systems from around the world are used to illustrate their complexity and how model scenarios can be used to examine potential future changes. 
    more » « less
  5. Dam, Hans G. (Ed.)
    Siphonophores (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa) are abundant and diverse gelatinous predators in open-ocean ecosystems. Due to limited access to the midwater, little is known about the diets of most deep-dwelling gelatinous species, which constrains our understanding of food-web structure and nutrient flow in these vast ecosystems. Visual gut-content methods can rarely identify soft-bodied rapidly-digested prey, while observations from submersibles often overlook small prey items. These methods have been differentially applied to shallow and deep siphonophore taxa, confounding habitat and methodological biases. DNA metabarcoding can be used to assess both shallow and deep species’ diets under a common methodological framework, since it can detect both small and gelatinous prey. We (1) further characterized the diets of open-ocean siphonophores using DNA metabarcoding, (2) compared the prey detected by visual and molecular methods to evaluate their technical biases, and (3) evaluated tentacle-based predictions of diet. To do this, we performed DNA metabarcoding analyses on the gut contents of 39 siphonophore species across depths to describe their diets, using six barcode regions along the 18S gene. Taxonomic identifications were assigned using public databases combined with local zooplankton sequences. We identified 55 unique prey items, including crustaceans, gelatinous animals, and fish across 47 siphonophore specimens in 24 species. We reported 29 novel predator-prey interactions, among them the first insights into the diets of nine siphonophore species, many of which were congruent with the dietary predictions based on tentilla morphology. Our analyses detected both small and gelatinous prey taxa underrepresented by visual methods in species from both shallow and deep habitats, indicating that siphonophores play similar trophic roles across depth habitats. We also reveal hidden links between siphonophores and filter-feeders near the base of the food web. This study expands our understanding of the ecological roles of siphonophores in the open ocean, their trophic roles within the ‘jelly-web’, and the importance of their diversity for nutrient flow and ecosystem functioning. Understanding these inconspicuous yet ubiquitous predator-prey interactions is critical to predict the impacts of climate change, overfishing, and conservation policies on oceanic ecosystems. 
    more » « less