Combined effects of warming and nutrients on marine communities are moderated by predators and vary across functional groups

Lydia White, Ian Donohue, Mark Emmerson, Nessa O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)
126 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Warming, nutrient enrichment and biodiversity modification are among the most pervasive components of human‐induced global environmental change. We know little about their cumulative effects on ecosystems; however, even though this knowledge is fundamental to predicting and managing their consequences in a changing world. Here, we show that shifts in predator species composition can moderate both the individual and combined effects of warming and nutrient enrichment in marine systems. However, all three aspects of global change also acted independently to alter different functional groups in our flow‐through marine rock‐pool mesocosms. Specifically, warming reduced macroalgal biomass and assemblage productivity, whereas enrichment led to increased abundance of meso‐invertebrate consumers, and loss of predator species led to increased gastropod grazer biomass. This disparity in responses, both across trophic levels (macroalgae and intermediate consumers), and between detecting additive effects on aggregate measures of ecosystem functioning, yet interactive effects on community composition, illustrates that our forecasting ability depends strongly on the level of ecological complexity incorporated within global change experiments. We conclude that biodiversity change—and loss of predator species in particular—plays a critical and overarching role in determining how ecological communities respond to stressors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Early online date19 Oct 2018
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 19 Oct 2018

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