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Understanding temporal variability across trophic levels and spatial scales in freshwater ecosystems.

Siqueira, T., Hawkins, C. P., Olden, J. D., Tonkin, J., Comte, L., Saito, V. S., Anderson, T. L., Barbosa, G. P., Bonada, N., Bonecker, C. C., Cañedo-Argüelles, M., Datry, T., Flinn, M. B., Fortuño, P., Gerrish, G. A., Haase, P., Hill, M. J., Hood, J. M., Huttunen, K-L., Jeffries, M. J., Muotka, T., O'Donnell, D. R., Paavola, R., Paril, P., Paterson, M. J., Patrick, C. J., Perbiche-Neves, G., Rodrigues, L. C., Schneider, S. C., Straka, M. and Ruhi, A., 2023. Understanding temporal variability across trophic levels and spatial scales in freshwater ecosystems. Ecology, e4219. (In Press)

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DOI: 10.1002/ecy.4219


A tenet of ecology is that temporal variability in ecological structure and processes tends to decrease with increasing spatial scales (from locales to regions) and levels of biological organization (from populations to communities). However, patterns in temporal variability across trophic levels and the mechanisms that produce them remain poorly understood. Here we analyzed abundance time series of spatially structured communities (i.e., metacommunities) spanning basal resources to top predators from 355 freshwater sites across three continents. Specifically, we used a hierarchical partitioning method to disentangle the propagation of temporal variability in abundance across spatial scales and trophic levels. We then used structural equation modeling to determine if the strength and direction of relationships between temporal variability, synchrony, biodiversity, and environmental and spatial settings depend on trophic level and spatial scale. We found that temporal variability in abundance decreased from producers to tertiary consumers but did so mainly at the local scale. Species population synchrony within sites increased with trophic level, whereas synchrony among communities decreased. At the local scale, temporal variability in precipitation and species diversity were associated with population variability (linear partial coefficient, β = 0.23) and population synchrony (β = -0.39) similarly across trophic levels, respectively. At the regional scale, community synchrony was not related to climatic or spatial predictors, but the strength of relationships between metacommunity variability and community synchrony decreased systematically from top predators (β = 0.73) to secondary consumers (β = 0.54), to primary consumers (β = 0.30) to producers (β =0). Our results suggest that mobile predators may often stabilize metacommunities by buffering variability that originates at the base of food webs. This finding illustrates that the trophic structure of metacommunities, which integrates variation in organismal body size and its correlates, should be considered when investigating ecological stability in natural systems. More broadly, our work advances the notion that temporal stability is an emergent property of ecosystems that may be threatened in complex ways by biodiversity loss and habitat fragmentation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:community synchrony; compensatory dynamics; metacommunities; mobile consumers; portfolio effect; temporal variability; Moran effect; International long term ecological research (ILTER)
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:39234
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:07 Dec 2023 15:58
Last Modified:02 Jan 2024 14:46


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