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Body size distributions signal a regime shift in a lake ecosystem


Spanbauer, TL and Allen, CR and Angeler, DG and Eason, T and Fritz, SC and Garmestani, AS and Nash, KL and Stone, JR and Stow, CA and Sundstrom, SM, Body size distributions signal a regime shift in a lake ecosystem, Royal Society of London. Proceedings. Biological Sciences, 283, (1833) Article 20160249. ISSN 0962-8452 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 The Author(s)

DOI: doi:10.1098/rspb.2016.0249


Communities of organisms, from mammals to microorganisms, have discontinuous distributions of body size. This pattern of size structuring is a conservative trait of community organization and is a product of processes that occur at multiple spatial and temporal scales. In this study, we assessed whether body size patterns serve as an indicator of a threshold between alternative regimes. Over the past 7000 years, the biological communities of Foy Lake (Montana, USA) have undergone a major regime shift owing to climate change. We used a palaeoecological record of diatom communities to estimate diatom sizes, and then analysed the discontinuous distribution of organism sizes over time. We used Bayesian classification and regression tree models to determine that all time intervals exhibited aggregations of sizes separated by gaps in the distribution and found a significant change in diatom body size distributions approximately 150 years before the identified ecosystem regime shift. We suggest that discontinuity analysis is a useful addition to the suite of tools for the detection of early warning signals of regime shifts.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:palaeoecology, regime shift, climate change, thresholds, body size, resilience
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Ecological applications
Research Field:Ecosystem function
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Fresh, ground and surface water systems and management
Objective Field:Fresh, ground and surface water biodiversity
UTAS Author:Nash, KL (Dr Kirsty Nash)
ID Code:109777
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:35
Deposited By:Fisheries and Aquaculture
Deposited On:2016-06-30
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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