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Warming and nitrogen affect size structuring and density dependence in a host parasitoid food web

Warming and nitrogen affect size structuring and density dependence in a host parasitoid food web

Body size is a major factor constraining the trophic structure and functioning of ecological communities. Food webs are known to respond to changes in basal resource abundance, and climate change can initiate compounding bottom-up effects on food-web structure through altered resource availability and quality. However, the effects of climate and co-occurring global changes, such as nitrogen deposition, on the density and size relationships between resources and consumers are unknown, particularly in host–parasitoid food webs, where size structuring is less apparent. We use a Bayesian modelling approach to explore the role of consumer and resource density and body size on host–parasitoid food webs assembled from a field experiment with factorial warming and nitrogen treatments. We show that the treatments increased resource (host) availability and quality (size), leading to measureable changes in parasitoid feeding behaviour. Parasitoids interacted less evenly within their host range and increasingly focused on abundant and high-quality (i.e. larger) hosts. In summary, we present evidence that climate-mediated bottom-up effects can significantly alter food-web structure through both density- and trait-mediated effects.

Authors: de Sassi, C.; Staniczenko, P.P.A.; Tylianakis, J.M.

Topic: ecology,climate change,food security

Publication Year: 2012

ISSN: 1471-2970

Source: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, B. 367(1605)

DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2012.0233

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