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Keywords:

  • adaptation;
  • climate change;
  • dispersal;
  • interaction network;
  • phenotypic plasticity;
  • species interaction;
  • temperature;
  • thermal reaction norm;
  • warming

Abstract

The majority of studies on environmental change focus on the response of single species and neglect fundamental biotic interactions, such as mutualism, competition, predation, and parasitism, which complicate patterns of species persistence. Under global warming, disruption of community interactions can arise when species differ in their sensitivity to rising temperature, leading to mismatched phenologies and/or dispersal patterns. To study species persistence under global climate change, it is critical to consider the ecology and evolution of multispecies interactions; however, the sheer number of potential interactions makes a full study of all interactions unfeasible. One mechanistic approach to solving the problem of complicated community context to global change is to (i) define strategy groups of species based on life-history traits, trophic position, or location in the ecosystem, (ii) identify species involved in key interactions within these groups, and (iii) determine from the interactions of these key species which traits to study in order to understand the response to global warming. We review the importance of multispecies interactions looking at two trait categories: thermal sensitivity of metabolic rate and associated life-history traits and dispersal traits of species. A survey of published literature shows pronounced and consistent differences among trophic groups in thermal sensitivity of life-history traits and in dispersal distances. Our approach increases the feasibility of unraveling such a large and diverse set of community interactions, with the ultimate goal of improving our understanding of community responses to global warming.