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Warmer and richer? Predicting the impact of climate warming on species richness in small temperate waterbodies

Authors

  • VÉRONIQUE ROSSET,

    1. Department of Nature Management, Hepia University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland, hepia Geneva technology, architecture and landscape, CH 1254 Jussy-Geneva, Switzerland
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  • ANTHONY LEHMANN,

    1. Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva, CH 1227 Carouge, Switzerland
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  • BEAT OERTLI

    1. Department of Nature Management, Hepia University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland, hepia Geneva technology, architecture and landscape, CH 1254 Jussy-Geneva, Switzerland
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Véronique Rosset, tel. +41 22 546 68 68, fax +41 22 546 68 01, e-mails: veronique.rosset@hesge.ch; beat.oertli@hesge.ch

Abstract

Climate change is expected to affect communities worldwide. Many studies focus on responses at the regional level and show an increase in species richness. However, less is known about the consequences of climate change at the local scale (in ecosystems). Small waterbodies, such as ponds, could play an important role for the assessment of the impact of future changes in climate at the local level. We evaluated here the potential changes due to climate warming in the species richness for various groups (plants, snails, beetles, dragonflies, amphibians) across 113 lowland and high altitude ponds in Switzerland. We modelled the relationships between species richness and environmental variables (including temperature) and predicted species richness changes for the end of the century (2090–2100; using the A2 IPCC scenario). Temperature rise could significantly increase pond species richness. For the five taxonomic groups pooled, species richness would potentially increase from 41 to 75 (+83%) in lowland ponds. In presently species-poor high altitude ponds, the potential increase would be particularly marked, with a proportional increase (+150%; from 14 to 35 species) almost double that in lowland areas. A strong increase in species richness also resulted from models including changes in additional variables, such as landuse or water quality. Future reductions in water quality (e.g. increase in nutrients) may limit the predicted increase in lowland species richness or, conversely, result in a greater increase in species richness in high altitude areas. Nutrient enrichment is shown to affect the taxonomic groups differentially, with plant species richness the most negatively influenced. Climate warming could therefore affect species richness of temperate ponds not only regionally, but also at the local, within ecosystems-scale; species richness could increase markedly in temperate regions, and especially so at higher altitude.

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