Warming Consumers and their Prey: General Principles and Applications for How Temperature Affects Trophic Interactions
Thursday, August 8, 2013: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
Auditorium, Rm 3, Minneapolis Convention Center
Mary I. O'Connor
Hamish S. Greig
Hamish S. Greig
The idea that global change impacts the structure and function of ecological communities is approaching paradigm status in ecological research. Still, anticipating future change at the community-level remains extremely difficult; research on the effects of warming has produced diverse and apparently ‘context-dependent’ results that so far defy generalization. Recent theoretical advances that integrate temperature, metabolic rates and species interactions suggest that a general framework for relating temperature and food web strucutre is emerging. This framework can be related to the findings of dozens of warming experiments published in the last few years. Such an integrated framework of theory and measurable parameters will allow projections of community responses to climate change based on general principles, rather than the current approach which is limited extrapolations of historical patterns or idiosyncratic aspects of particular taxa, often ignoring key processes such as species interactions.
Our symposium will provide an overview of recent advances in integrating theory and empirical findings to identify general effects of temperature change on species performance and species interactions. To achieve this, talks will present the mechanisms underlying ecosystem responses to warming by scaling up temperature-dependencies of organism processes to the outcomes of the species interactions that drive food webs. Contributions from aquatic and terrestrial empiricists, ecological modellers and biomathematicians, will highlight the utility of bioenergetic approaches to understanding processes from the individual to whole food web scales, and across multiple ecosystem types. Speakers will address advances in four key areas: 1) positive and negative effects temperature on individual rates and performance; 2) incorporating temperature-dependence into consumer-resource models; 3) empirical tests of theoretical predictions, and 4) evolutionary and food web context for temperature dependence of trophic interactions. We have designed this sequence of talks to build concepts from the core metabolic processes affecting organisms to tools and techniques understanding their role in the dynamics of complex natural communities. In doing so we aim to show explicitly how theory and empirical evidence can be combined into a comprehensive framework for generating and testing predictions of food web responses to warming climates. We hope that dialogue arising from this symposium will provide a springboard for a new generation of climate change experiments that focus on testing and developing theoretically-grounded hypotheses, resulting in a more conceptual approach to climate change ecology.