Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2021Peer reviewed

Temperature affects both the Grinnellian and Eltonian dimensions of ecological niches - A tale of two Arctic wolf spiders

Eitzinger, Bernhard; Roslin, Tomas; Vesterinen, Eero J.; Robinson, Sinikka I.; O'Gorman, Eoin J.


To better understand the consequences of global warming for species and their distribution, we need studies quantifying how environmental change affects communities and interaction networks. Where studies to date have mainly focused on climatic effects on species distribution (the Grinnellian dimension of the niche), recent research has emphasised how the environment shapes ecological interactions among species (the Eltonian dimension).Here, we explore both dimensions in a system consisting of two wolf spider species Pardosa palustris and Pirata piraticus and their prey. Drawing on a natural experiment consisting of differential geothermal heating of soil, we describe the effects of temperature on the abundance of each species and on its interactions with its prey (using metabarcoding of gut contents). The two spider species differed substantially in their Grinnellian niche, with a peak in the abundance of P. palustris around 10 degrees C and in P. piraticus around 22 degrees C. While P. piraticus consumed more prey taxa on average than did P. palustris, both predators maintained their diet breadth and taxon richness of consumed prey across the temperature gradient. This indicates that effects of temperature on metabolic demands did not alter the dietary specialisation of the two predators. Nevertheless, we did also detect effects of temperature on the Eltonian niche, with significant changes in the prey community consumed by the two spider species across the temperature gradient, and a greater turnover of prey taxa in their diet with increasing soil temperature. Importantly, this suggests that the Eltonian niche of species may be conditional on the environment, and that prey use by generalist predators may thus be modified by climate change. (c) 2021 Gesellschaft fur okologie. Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.


Arctic; Global warming; Gut content analysis; Metabarcoding; Predator-prey; Soil food web; Temperature gradient; Wolf spider

Published in

Basic and Applied Ecology
2021, Volume: 50, pages: 132-143 Publisher: ELSEVIER GMBH

      SLU Authors

      • Vesterinen, Eero

        • Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
        • University of Helsinki
        • University of Turku

      UKÄ Subject classification


      Publication identifier


      Permanent link to this page (URI)