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Elevation alters outcome of competition between resident and range-shifting species


Shepard, Isaac (2021), Elevation alters outcome of competition between resident and range-shifting species, Dryad, Dataset,


Species’ geographic range shifts towards higher latitudes and elevations are among the most frequently reported consequences of climate change. However, the role of species interactions in setting range margins remains poorly understood. We used cage experiments in ponds to test competing hypotheses about the role of abiotic and biotic mechanisms for structuring range boundaries of an up-slope range-shifting caddisfly Limnephilus picturatus. We found that competition with a ubiquitous species Limnephilus externus significantly decreased L. picturatus survival and emergence at subalpine elevations supporting the notion that species interactions play a critical role in determining up-slope range limits. However, without competitors, L. picturatus survival was greater at high-elevation than low-elevation sites. This was contrary to decreases in body mass (a proxy for fecundity) with elevation regardless of the presence of competitors. We ultimately show that species interactions can be important for setting up-slope range margins. Yet our results also highlight the complications in defining what may be abiotically stressful for this species and the importance of considering multiple demographic variables. Understanding how species ranges will respond in a changing climate will require quantifying species interactions and how they are influenced by the abiotic context in which they play out.

Usage Notes

le = Limnephilus externus

lp = Limnephilus picturatus