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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Smaller species but larger stages: Warming effects on inter- and intraspecific community size structure

Uszko, Wojciech; Huss, Magnus; Gardmark, Anna;

Abstract

Global warming can alter size distributions of animal communities, but the contribution of size shifts within versus between species to such changes remains unknown. In particular, it is unclear if expected body size shrinkage in response to warming, observed at the interspecific level, can be used to infer similar size shifts within species. In this study, we compare warming effects on interspecific (relative species abundance) versus intraspecific (relative stage abundance) size structure of competing consumers by analyzing stage-structured bioenergetic food web models consisting of one or two consumer species and two resources, parameterized for pelagic plankton. Varying composition and temperature and body size dependencies in these models, we predicted interspecific versus intraspecific size structure across temperature. We found that warming shifted community size structure toward dominance of smaller species, in line with empirical evidence summarized in our review of 136 literature studies. However, this result emerged only given a size-temperature interaction favoring small over large individuals in warm environments. In contrast, the same mechanism caused an intraspecific shift toward dominance of larger (adult) stages, reconciling disparate observations of size responses within and across zooplankton species in the literature. As the empirical evidence for warming-driven stage shifts is scarce and equivocal, we call for more experimental studies on intraspecific size changes with warming. Understanding the global warming impacts on animal communities requires that we consider and quantify the relative importance of mechanisms concurrently shaping size distributions within and among species.

Keywords

adult; body size; competition; diet preference; global warming; juvenile; optimum; stage; temperature; zooplankton

Published in

Ecology

2022, volume: 103, number: 7, article number: e3699
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG13 Climate action

UKÄ Subject classification

Ecology

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.3699

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/117332