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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Accounting for species interactions is necessary for predicting how arctic arthropod communities respond to climate change

Abrego, Nerea; Roslin, Tomas; Huotari, Tea; Ji, Yinqiu; Schmidt, Niels Martin; Wang, Jiaxin; Yu, Douglas W.; Ovaskainen, Otso


Species interactions are known to structure ecological communities. Still, the influence of climate change on biodiversity has primarily been evaluated by correlating individual species distributions with local climatic descriptors, then extrapolating into future climate scenarios. We ask whether predictions on arctic arthropod response to climate change can be improved by accounting for species interactions. For this, we use a 14-year-long, weekly time series from Greenland, resolved to the species level by mitogenome mapping. During the study period, temperature increased by 2 degrees C and arthropod species richness halved. We show that with abiotic variables alone, we are essentially unable to predict species responses, but with species interactions included, the predictive power of the models improves considerably. Cascading trophic effects thereby emerge as important in structuring biodiversity response to climate change. Given the need to scale up from species-level to community-level projections of biodiversity change, these results represent a major step forward for predictive ecology.


Arctic; Arthropoda; climate change; community assembly; food web; joint species distribution model; trophic cascade

Published in

2021, volume: 44, number: 6, pages: 885-896
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Abrego, Nerea
University of Helsinki
University of Helsinki
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Huotari, Tea
University of Helsinki
Ji, Yinqiu
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Schmidt, Niels Martin
Aarhus University
Wang, Jiaxin
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Yu, Douglas W.
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Ovaskainen, Otso
University of Helsinki

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land
SDG13 Climate action

UKÄ Subject classification

Climate Research

Publication Identifiers


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