On their best behavior: how animal behavior can help determine the combined effects of species interactions and climate change


Address for correspondence: Jason P. Harmon, Department of Entomology, North Dakota State University, NDSU Department 7650, P.O. Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050. jason.harmon@ndsu.edu


The increasingly appreciated link between climate change and species interactions has the potential to help us understand and predict how organisms respond to a changing environment. As this connection grows, it becomes even more important to appreciate the mechanisms that create and control the combined effect of these factors. However, we believe one such important set of mechanisms comes from species’ behavior and the subsequent trait-mediated interactions, as opposed to the more often studied density-mediated effects. Behavioral mechanisms are already well appreciated for mitigating the separate effects of the environment and species interactions. Thus, they could be at the forefront for understanding the combined effects. In this review, we (1) show some of the known behaviors that influence the individual and combined effects of climate change and species interactions; (2) conceptualize general ways behavior may mediate these combined effects; and (3) illustrate the potential importance of including behavior in our current tools for predicting climate change effects. In doing so, we hope to promote more research on behavior and other mechanistic factors that may increase our ability to accurately predict climate change effects.