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Predators balance consequences of climate-change induced habitat shifts for range-shifting and resident species

Citation

Shepard, Isaac; Wissinger, Scott; Wood, Zachary; Greig, Hamish (2021), Predators balance consequences of climate-change induced habitat shifts for range-shifting and resident species, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.r7sqv9sd3

Abstract

While many species distributions are shifting poleward or up in elevation in response to a changing climate, others are shifting their habitats along localized gradients in environmental conditions as abiotic conditions become more stressful. Whether species are moving across regional or local environmental gradients in response to climate change, range-shifting species become embedded in established communities of competitors and predators. The consequences of these shifts for both resident and shifting species are often unknown, as it can be difficult to isolate the effects of multiple species interactions.

Using a model system of insects in high-elevation ponds in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, we sought to disentangle the effects of predation and intraguild interactions on the survival and development of a semi-permanent pond resident caddisfly Limnephilus externus and the habitat-shifting caddis Asynarchus nigriculus that is being forced into semi-permanent ponds as temporary ponds dry too quickly to complete development.

We conducted a manipulative in-situ pond cage experiment in which L. externus and A. nigriculus caddisfly larvae in single-species treatments and together were exposed to the presence/absence of predatory Dytiscus diving beetle larvae. This approach allowed us to isolate the effects of intraguild interactions and predation on the survival and development of both the resident and habitat-shifting species.

We found that intraguild interactions had strong negative effects on the resident and habitat-shifting species. Intraguild interactions reduced the survival of the resident L. externus and increased the variation in survival of the shifting A. nigriculus. However, Dytiscus predators reduced these negative effects, stabilizing the community by increasing L. externus survival and reducing variation in A. nigriculus survival. We also found that intraguild interactions reduced L. externus biomass but resulted in increased A. nigriculus development. A. nigriculus development was also increased by predation.

Our results show that strong intraguild interactions between resident and shifting species are likely to have negative consequences for both species. However, the presence of predators reduces these negative consequences of the habitat shift on both the resident and the shifting.