Spotlight: Biodiversity of intertidal food webs in response to warming across latitudes
Global warming threatens the stability of society and biodiversity around the world. In turn, temperature affects the metabolism of species, their feeding interactions and their ability to persist in a given environment. Recent studies suggest that the different effects of temperature on consumers and resources could cause food webs in cold climates to become less vulnerable to species loss, whereas tropical communities may be more vulnerable as temperatures climb.
What is the overall context in which this research was developed?
This research was developed in the context of the project WarmingWebs (coordination: Catarina Vinagre) that investigated the effect of warming on coastal food webs using tidepools as model-ecosystems. It was a collaboration with the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) (Germany), using data from 124 tidepools from Mozambique, Brazil, Portugal, Madeira Island, England and Canada. Dynamic modelling was used to test whether communities from warmer regions are more sensitive to warming.
What are the main scientific advances/opportunities that this research brings?
Results from this study imply that the expected global warming of 4 °C should increase biodiversity in arctic to temperate regions, however biodiversity in tropical regions should decrease. Simulations using synthetic networks reveal the importance of using natural food webs for predicting community responses to environmental changes.
You can read the full article here: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-0698-z