Interactive effects of multiple climate change variables on trophic interactions: a meta-analysisReport as inadecuate

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Climate Change Responses

, 1:8

First Online: 01 December 2014Received: 08 May 2014Accepted: 25 June 2014


BackgroundClimate change is expected to simultaneously alter many of the abiotic qualities of ecosystems as well as biotic interactions, especially trophic interactions. However, research to date has mostly focused on elucidating the effects of single climate change variables on individual species. Here, we use established meta-analysis techniques to synthesize the existing literature on the interactive effects of multiple climate change variables on trophic interactions.

ResultsMost of the studies included in our meta-analysis examined plant-insect herbivore interactions. We found that the majority of trophic interaction response variables 55% displayed multiplicative reactions to interacting climate change variables while 36% and 9% displayed antagonistic and synergistic reactions, respectively. We also found that only one of six climate change variable pairings had consistent positive or negative effects on trophic relationships, largely because interaction type and magnitude were both highly context dependent across the pairings. Most notably, males and females frequently responded differently to interacting climate change variables, and the response strength frequently varied with the underlying nutrient load of the system.

ConclusionsOur results suggest that trophic interactions commonly respond antagonistically to interacting climate change variables whereas synergistic and simple additive-multiplicative reactions are less common than previously thought. In addition, response type and magnitude are highly context dependent. These findings further suggest that in many cases, future ecosystem responses to climate change, whether positive or negative, may be dampened relative to predictions based on experiments that investigate the effects of single climate change variables on single species. However, there is a paucity of work that has focused on the effects of interacting climate change variables on dynamic biotic relationships, likely because such research requires complex experimentation. Increasing the complexity of climate change research is necessary for accurately predicting ecosystem responses.

KeywordsCarbon dioxide Feeding Food web Global change Log response ratio Ozone Photoperiod Rainfall Temperature Ultraviolet radiation Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s40665-014-0008-y contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Adam E Rosenblatt - Oswald J Schmitz



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