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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2010 Jul 12;365(1549):2093-106. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0055.

Climate change and freshwater ecosystems: impacts across multiple levels of organization.

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1
School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, London E1 4NS, UK. g.woodward@qmul.ac.uk

Abstract

Fresh waters are particularly vulnerable to climate change because (i) many species within these fragmented habitats have limited abilities to disperse as the environment changes; (ii) water temperature and availability are climate-dependent; and (iii) many systems are already exposed to numerous anthropogenic stressors. Most climate change studies to date have focused on individuals or species populations, rather than the higher levels of organization (i.e. communities, food webs, ecosystems). We propose that an understanding of the connections between these different levels, which are all ultimately based on individuals, can help to develop a more coherent theoretical framework based on metabolic scaling, foraging theory and ecological stoichiometry, to predict the ecological consequences of climate change. For instance, individual basal metabolic rate scales with body size (which also constrains food web structure and dynamics) and temperature (which determines many ecosystem processes and key aspects of foraging behaviour). In addition, increasing atmospheric CO(2) is predicted to alter molar CNP ratios of detrital inputs, which could lead to profound shifts in the stoichiometry of elemental fluxes between consumers and resources at the base of the food web. The different components of climate change (e.g. temperature, hydrology and atmospheric composition) not only affect multiple levels of biological organization, but they may also interact with the many other stressors to which fresh waters are exposed, and future research needs to address these potentially important synergies.

PMID:
20513717
PMCID:
PMC2880135
DOI:
10.1098/rstb.2010.0055
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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