A bioenergetic framework for the temperature dependence of trophic interactions
Gilbert, B and Tunney, TD and McCann, KS and DeLong, JP and Vasseur, DA and Savage, V and Shurin, JB and Dell, AI and Barton, BT and Harley, CDG and Kharouba, HM and Kratina, P and Blanchard, JL and Clements, C and Winder, M and Greig, HS and O'Connor, MI, A bioenergetic framework for the temperature dependence of trophic interactions, Ecology Letters, 17 pp. 902-914. ISSN 1461-0248 (2014) [Refereed Article]
Changing temperature can substantially shift ecological communities by altering the strength and
stability of trophic interactions. Because many ecological rates are constrained by temperature,
new approaches are required to understand how simultaneous changes in multiple rates alter the
relative performance of species and their trophic interactions. We develop an energetic approach
to identify the relationship between biomass fluxes and standing biomass across trophic levels.
Our approach links ecological rates and trophic dynamics to measure temperature-dependent
changes to the strength of trophic interactions and determine how these changes alter food web
stability. It accomplishes this by using biomass as a common energetic currency and isolating
three temperature-dependent processes that are common to all consumer–resource interactions:
biomass accumulation of the resource, resource consumption and consumer mortality. Using this
framework, we clarify when and how temperature alters consumer to resource biomass ratios,
equilibrium resilience, consumer variability, extinction risk and transient vs. equilibrium dynamics.
Finally, we characterise key asymmetries in species responses to temperature that produce these
distinct dynamic behaviours and identify when they are likely to emerge. Overall, our framework
provides a mechanistic and more unified understanding of the temperature dependence of trophic
dynamics in terms of ecological rates, biomass ratios and stability.