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Berlin Brandenburg

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  • 1
    In: Oikos, October 2014, Vol.123(10), pp.1224-1233
    Description: Soil systems maintain important ecosystem processes crucial for plant life and food production. Especially agricultural systems are strongly affected by climate change due to low vegetation cover associated with high temperatures and drought. Nevertheless, the response of soil systems to climate change is little explored. We used microcosms with a simplified soil community to address effects of climate change using independent temperature and dryness gradients and addressed their effects on top–down control and litter decomposition. The community consisted of maize litter as a basal resource, fungi, springtails and as top predators mites and centipedes. As the body‐size structure is of high importance for communities, we included differently‐sized springtails and predator species. After seven weeks, the experiment was terminated, and the impact of climate change on direct feeding interactions and indirect effects across trophic levels was analysed. With increasing temperature and dryness, consumption rates increased, thereby amplifying the negative influence of consumer populations on their resources. Hence, these climate‐change variables increased the top–down control of 1) predators (mainly mites) on springtails and 2) fungi on litter decomposition. In addition, we found that the climate‐change variables strengthened trophic cascades from predators on fungi whose density was thus increasingly decoupled from top–down control by their springtail consumers. Their increased decomposition rates are of high importance for carbon cycling and may result in accelerated nutrient turnover. In conclusion, our results suggest that climate change may strongly influence the structure and functioning of soil systems by strengthening consumption rates and trophic cascades, which will have far reaching consequences for the nutrient turnover and productivity of agricultural ecosystems.
    Keywords: Climate Change – Environmental Aspects ; Droughts – Environmental Aspects ; Agricultural Ecology – Environmental Aspects ; Ecosystems – Environmental Aspects;
    ISSN: 0030-1299
    E-ISSN: 1600-0706
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  • 2
    In: Oikos, December 2017, Vol.126(12), pp.1717-1725
    Description: With the world continuously warming, a mechanistic understanding of how temperature affects interaction strengths, which are fundamental to food‐web stability, is needed. As interaction strengths are determined by the flows of energy from resources to consumers, we investigated effects of temperature on animal energetics. We used newly compiled datasets on respiration rates and assimilation efficiencies to assess how temperature affects the energy use (respiration rates) and the efficiency of energy gain (assimilation efficiency) for different consumer types. Furthermore, we incorporated our findings in a simulation of temperature effects on maintenance feeding rates (i.e. energy consumption necessary to sustain life). Our analysis revealed a generally positive temperature dependence of assimilation efficiencies across consumer types thus implying a net energy gain with warming. The temperature scaling of respiration rates did not differ between consumer types. Based on these parameters we calculated maintenance feeding rates and compared them to empirically measured (realized) feeding rates. This comparison revealed that detritivores and herbivores have the potential to increase their biomasses under warming as their maintenance feeding rates increase less strongly than their realized feeding rates. For carnivores, however, we found a stronger increase of their maintenance feeding rates compared to their realized feeding rates, which should lead to decreased population sizes under warming. Overall, our results increase the understanding of climate change effects on ecosystems as they suggest profound energetic consequences for natural communities.
    Keywords: Energy Consumption – Analysis ; Climate Change – Analysis;
    ISSN: 0030-1299
    E-ISSN: 1600-0706
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