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Title: Life-history responses to temperature and seasonality mediate ectotherm consumer–resource dynamics under climate warming

Climate warming is altering life cycles of ectotherms by advancing phenology and decreasing generation times. Theoretical models provide powerful tools to investigate these effects of climate warming on consumer–resource population dynamics. Yet, existing theory primarily considers organisms with simplified life histories in constant temperature environments, making it difficult to predict how warming will affect organisms with complex life cycles in seasonal environments. We develop a size-structured consumer–resource model with seasonal temperature dependence, parameterized for a freshwater insect consuming zooplankton. We simulate how climate warming in a seasonal environment could alter a key life-history trait of the consumer, number of generations per year, mediating responses of consumer–resource population sizes and consumer persistence. We find that, with warming, consumer population sizes increase through multiple mechanisms. First, warming decreases generation times by increasing rates of resource ingestion and growth and/or lengthening the growing season. Second, these life-history changes shorten the juvenile stage, increasing the number of emerging adults and population-level reproduction. Unstructured models with similar assumptions found that warming destabilized consumer–resource dynamics. By contrast, our size-structured model predicts stability and consumer persistence. Our study suggests that, in seasonal environments experiencing climate warming, life-history changes that lead to shorter generation times could delay population extinctions.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
Royal Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
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Page Range / eLocation ID:
Subject(s) / Keyword(s):
climate change life cycle predator–prey population dynamics temperature seasonality
Medium: X Size: 13MB Other: pdf
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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