Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2021Peer reviewed

Thermal mismatches in biological rates determine trophic control and biomass distribution under warming

Bideault, Azenor; Galiana, Nuria; Zelnik, Yuval R.; Gravel, Dominique; Loreau, Michel; Barbier, Matthieu; Sentis, Arnaud


Temperature has numerous effects on the structure and dynamics of ecological communities. Yet, there is no general trend or consensus on the magnitude and directions of these effects. To fill this gap, we propose a mechanistic framework based on key biological rates that predicts how temperature influences biomass distribution and trophic control in food webs. We show that these predictions arise from thermal mismatches between biological rates and across trophic levels. We couple our theory with experimental data for a wide range of species and find that warming should lead to top-heavier terrestrial food chains and stronger top-down control in aquatic environments. We then derive predictions for the effects of temperature on herbivory and validate them with data on stream grazers. Our study provides a mechanistic explanation of thermal effects on consumer-resource systems which is crucial to better understand the biogeography and the consequences of global warming on trophic dynamics.


biological rates; biomass distribution; consumer–resource interaction; temperature; thermal mismatches; trophic control

Published in

Global Change Biology
2021, Volume: 27, number: 2, pages: 257-269
Publisher: WILEY

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG13 Climate action

    UKÄ Subject classification


    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)