Communities and climate change

Understanding how climate change will affect ecological communities is an important yet challenging task, as different species and trophic groups can respond differently to temperature. Long-term and historical datasets can reveal patterns of abundance and diversity change through time; however it remains unclear what mechanisms are driving these patterns. To accurately predict how future warming will affect communities, it is imperative to understand how direct and indirect effects interact to impact diversity and the structure of these communities. Along with increases in temperature, more frequent, severe, and prolonged heat waves are expected in the future, yet studies that investigate their impacts on communities remains sparse. We used pond mesocosms with common predators in freshwater habitats, dragonfly larvae, as well as their prey, cladoceran zooplankton, to ask: 1) how do warmer, average temperatures plus periodic heat waves affect the diversity, abundance, and development of these predators, 2) do communities respond differently to heat waves than overall increases in ambient temperatures, and 3) how are trophic interactions re-structured in warmer and more variable environments?

This project is in collaboration with Shannon McCauley (UofT) Karen E. Mabry (NMSU) and John I. Hammond (Marian University).

Experimental heating arrays at  UC Davis' Quail Ridge Reserve

Experimental heating arrays at UC Davis' Quail Ridge Reserve