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Sci Adv. 2019 Apr 17;5(4):eaav2348. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aav2348. eCollection 2019 Apr.

Precipitation and temperature drive continental-scale patterns in stream invertebrate production.

Author information

1
Department of Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, 6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78412, USA.
2
Center for Environmental Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23284, USA.
3
Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, U.S. Geological Survey, 2630 Fanta Reed Rd., La Crosse, WI 54603, USA.
4
Department of Ecology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA.
5
Department of Biology, University of Oklahoma, 730 Van Vleet Oval, Norman, OK 73019, USA.
6
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA.
7
Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven & Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity at the University of Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany.
8
University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA.
9
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.
10
University of British Columbia, 2329 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada.
11
University of California, Riverside, 900 University Ave., Riverside, CA 92521, USA.
12
Department of Zoology, Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory and Center for Ecology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA.
13
Department of Entomology and Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.
14
Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Buckhurst Rd., Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, UK.

Abstract

Secondary production, the growth of new heterotrophic biomass, is a key process in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems that has been carefully measured in many flowing water ecosystems. We combine structural equation modeling with the first worldwide dataset on annual secondary production of stream invertebrate communities to reveal core pathways linking air temperature and precipitation to secondary production. In the United States, where the most extensive set of secondary production estimates and covariate data were available, we show that precipitation-mediated, low-stream flow events have a strong negative effect on secondary production. At larger scales (United States, Europe, Central America, and Pacific), we demonstrate the significance of a positive two-step pathway from air to water temperature to increasing secondary production. Our results provide insights into the potential effects of climate change on secondary production and demonstrate a modeling framework that can be applied across ecosystems.

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