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Temperature-size responses alter food chain persistence across environmental gradients

Authors

  • Arnaud Sentis,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Ecosystem Biology, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
    2. Biology Centre AS CR, vvi, Institute of Entomology, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
    3. Unité Mixte de Recherche 5174 “Evolution et Diversité Biologique”, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique – Université de Toulouse III – Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Formation de l'Enseignement Agricole – Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Toulouse, France
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.
  • Amrei Binzer,

    1. Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön, Germany
    2. Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.
  • David S. Boukal

    1. Department of Ecosystem Biology, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
    2. Biology Centre AS CR, vvi, Institute of Entomology, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
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Abstract

Body-size reduction is a ubiquitous response to global warming alongside changes in species phenology and distributions. However, ecological consequences of temperature-size (TS) responses for community persistence under environmental change remain largely unexplored. Here, we investigated the interactive effects of warming, enrichment, community size structure and TS responses on a three-species food chain using a temperature-dependent model with empirical parameterisation. We found that TS responses often increase community persistence, mainly by modifying consumer-resource size ratios and thereby altering interaction strengths and energetic efficiencies. However, the sign and magnitude of these effects vary with warming and enrichment levels, TS responses of constituent species, and community size structure. We predict that the consequences of TS responses are stronger in aquatic than in terrestrial ecosystems, especially when species show different TS responses. We conclude that considering the links between phenotypic plasticity, environmental drivers and species interactions is crucial to better predict global change impacts on ecosystem diversity and stability.

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