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Ectothermic omnivores increase herbivory in response to rising temperature

Cite this dataset

Zhang, Peiyu et al. (2020). Ectothermic omnivores increase herbivory in response to rising temperature [Dataset]. Dryad.


Higher temperatures as a consequence of global climate change may considerably alter trophic interactions. Ectothermic herbivores and carnivores generally ingest more food with rising temperature as their metabolic rates increase with rising temperature. However, omnivorous ectotherms may respond in two ways: quantitatively by consuming more food and qualitatively by altering their degree of herbivory or carnivory through a diet shift. We hypothesize that rising temperature will increase herbivory of ectothermic omnivores as herbivory increases towards the equator. We tested the hypothesis in a freshwater model system in which ectothermic omnivores are prevalent, by applying two approaches, a temperature manipulation experiment and a literature study. We performed feeding trials with a juvenile aquatic ectothermic omnivore (pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis) at different temperatures ranging from 12 to 27°C, supplying them with both animal food and plant material, and directly quantified their consumption rates over time. The results showed that snails cultured at high temperatures (> 21°C) increased the proportion of plant material in their diets after 17 days, which supports our hypothesis. In the literature survey, we found that rising temperature increased herbivory in multiple aquatic animal taxa, including zooplankton, amphibians, crayfish, fish and snails. This suggests that aquatic ectothermic omnivores might commonly increase herbivory with rising temperature. The mechanisms underlying this temperature‐induced diet shift are not sufficiently explained by current theories related to the physiology, metabolism and stoichiometry of omnivores. We propose to incorporate the animals’ ontogenetic development in the temperature metabolic stoichiometry hypothesis as a complementary explanation for the diet shift, namely that the diet shift could be due to faster development of the ectotherms and an earlier ontogenetic diet shift at higher temperatures. We conclude that future global warming will most likely alter food webs by increasing the top–down control of aquatic herbivores and omnivores on primary producers.


Collect from experiment and literature survey.

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Any question please contact Peiyu Zhang