3 years ago

Considering the effects of temperature x nutrient interactions on the thermal response curve of carrying capacity.

Nathan P. Lemoine
Climate warming will likely destabilize populations or drive consumers locally extinct. These predictions arise from consumer-resource models incorporating temperature-dependent parameters, and the accuracy of these predictions hinges on the validity of temperature-scalings for each parameter. Among all parameters, carrying capacity (K) is the most ill-defined and the temperature-scaling of this parameter has no empirically-verified foundation. Most studies assume that K declines exponentially with warming, but others have assumed a positive or no relationship between K and temperature. Here, I developed a theoretical foundation for a temperature-scaling of K based on physiological principles of temperature and nutrient limitation of phytoplankton growth. The tradeoff between thermodynamics and nutrient uptake yields a unimodal thermal response curve for K, and this prediction is supported by empirical data on both phytoplankton and insects. Analyses of consumer-resource models demonstrate the primacy of K in determining predictions of coexistence and stability. Since K exerts a dominant influence on model predictions, ecologists should carefully consider the temperature-scaling of K for the species and region in question to ensure accurate estimates of population stability and extinction risk. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Publisher URL: http://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.2599

DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2599

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