Temperature effects on the temporal dynamics of a subarctic invertebrate community

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Climate warming is predicted to have major impacts on the structure of terrestrial communities, particularly in high latitude ecosystems where growing seasons are short. Higher temperatures may dampen seasonal dynamics in community composition as a consequence of earlier snowmelt, with potentially cascading effects across all levels of biological organisation.

Here, we examined changes in community assembly and structure along a natural soil temperature gradient in the Hengill geothermal valley, Iceland, during the summer of 2015. Sample collection over several time points within a season allowed us to assess whether temperature alters temporal variance in terrestrial communities and compositional turnover.

We found that seasonal fluctuations in species richness, diversity and evenness were dampened as soil temperature increased, whereas invertebrate biomass varied more. Body mass was found to be a good predictor of species occurrence, with smaller species found at higher soil temperatures and emerging earlier in the season.

Our results provide more in-depth understanding of the temporal nature of community and population-level responses to temperature, and indicate that climate warming will likely dampen the seasonal turnover of community structure that is characteristic of high latitude invertebrate communities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1217-1227
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • HMSC
  • biodiversity
  • climate change
  • global warming
  • natural experiment
  • seasonal dynamics
  • temporal variability
  • 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
  • 1172 Environmental sciences

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