Idiosyncratic species effects confound size-based predictions of responses to climate change

M. Twomey, E. Brodte, U. Jacob, U. Brose, T.P. Crowe, M.C. Emmerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding and predicting the consequences of warming for complex ecosystems and indeed individual species remains a major ecological challenge. Here, we investigated the effect of increased seawater temperatures on the metabolic and consumption rates of five distinct marine species. The experimental species reflected different trophic positions within a typical benthic East Atlantic food web, and included a herbivorous gastropod, a scavenging decapod, a predatory echinoderm, a decapod and a benthic-feeding fish. We examined the metabolism-body mass and consumption-body mass scaling for each species, and assessed changes in their consumption efficiencies. Our results indicate that body mass and temperature effects on metabolism were inconsistent across species and that some species were unable to meet metabolic demand at higher temperatures, thus highlighting the vulnerability of individual species to warming. While body size explains a large proportion of the variation in species' physiological responses to warming, it is clear that idiosyncratic species responses, irrespective of body size, complicate predictions of population and ecosystem level response to future scenarios of climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2971-2978
Number of pages8
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1605
Publication statusPublished - 05 Nov 2012


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