Warming alters community size structure and ecosystem functioning

Dossena, Matteo and Yvon-Durocher, Gabriel and Grey, Jonathan and Montoya, José M and Perkins, Daniel M and Trimmer, Mark and Woodward, Guy (2012) Warming alters community size structure and ecosystem functioning. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279 (1740). pp. 3011-3019. ISSN 0962-8452

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Abstract

Global warming can affect all levels of biological complexity, though we currently understand least about its potential impact on communities and ecosystems. At the ecosystem level, warming has the capacity to alter the structure of communities and the rates of key ecosystem processes they mediate. Here we assessed the effects of a 4°C rise in temperature on the size structure and taxonomic composition of benthic communities in aquatic mesocosms, and the rates of detrital decomposition they mediated. Warming had no effect on biodiversity, but altered community size structure in two ways. In spring, warmer systems exhibited steeper size spectra driven by declines in total community biomass and the proportion of large organisms. By contrast, in autumn, warmer systems had shallower size spectra driven by elevated total community biomass and a greater proportion of large organisms. Community-level shifts were mirrored by changes in decomposition rates. Temperature-corrected microbial and macrofaunal decomposition rates reflected the shifts in community structure and were strongly correlated with biomass across mesocosms. Our study demonstrates that the 4°C rise in temperature expected by the end of the century has the potential to alter the structure and functioning of aquatic ecosystems profoundly, as well as the intimate linkages between these levels of ecological organization.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2700
Subjects:
ID Code:
74631
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
13 Jul 2015 11:32
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
27 Oct 2020 05:00