Ecology

Animal movement

Glob. Change Biol. http://doi.org/bc6r (2016)

A key difficulty in predicting ecological responses to climate change is accounting for food web dynamics, the stability of which depends to a large extent on predator–prey interactions. These are in turn heavily influenced by temperature effects on animal movement.

Jean Gibert, from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and co-workers use biomechanical models in combination with observational data to investigate the processes through which temperature affects ectothermic animal movement. They then go on to study the implications of these responses for predator–prey dynamics.

Results suggest that animal movement displays multiple regimes of temperature dependence (rather than simple linear relationships) and that transitioning between these regimes has important consequences for population dynamics and stability. However, the specific consequences were found to depend on the factors that control predator–prey interactions. So, for example, opposing effects were found on population stability in systems with high versus low prey-carrying capacity. The authors suggest that this dependence may explain why experimental work on the temperature dependence of interaction strengths has so far yielded conflicting results.

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Brown, A. Animal movement. Nature Clim Change 6, 339 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2983

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