Tipping points in temperature-dependent food webs
Recently, researchers have revealed general patterns describing how physiological and ecological traits (e.g., metabolic rate, encounter rate) change in response to changing thermal conditions. These empirical thermal relationships between traits and temperature have driven the development of a temperature-dependent consumer-resource theory. Here, we extend this work to more complex food web modules and whole webs.
Motivated by empirical data that suggests generalists’ consumers can show differential trait responses to different prey or resources, we show that food webs may be expected to frequently undergo dramatic shifts in interaction strength that produce significantly different dynamics, with increased risk of species collapse. We explore the potential for early empirical warning signals in detecting these thermally-driven tipping points.