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Relationship between food chain length versus temperature

Published On: 6/4/2012

FWS Featured Article: Relationship between food chain length versus temperature


Featured articles are open access for three months so you can see what's hot in the current issue of FWS.

Glazier, D. 2012. Temperature affects food-chain length and macroinvertebrate species richness in spring ecosystems. Freshwater Science 31:575-585.

Highlight: Food chain length has negative nonlinear relationship with increased temperatures (35-93ºC)!

Abstract: I assessed effects of the widest range of temperatures ever examined on maximal food-chain length (L) and macroinvertebrate species richness (S) by a worldwide comparison of spring ecosystems with mean water temperatures (T) ranging from 4.5 to 93°C. Eukaryotic L averaged 3.2 and varied independently of T between 4.5 and 31°C. However, over the relatively narrow T range of 35 to 50°C, L dropped abruptly to 0 and remained so up to 91°C. The negatively nonlinear relationships of L vs T and macroinvertebrate S vs T both deviated from predictions based upon metabolic theory, and the negative effect of T on S contrasted with positive relationships observed at larger regional scales. Thermal tolerance limits apparently play a major role in causing these relationships, but other factors also may be involved (e.g., availability of colonists adapted to different temperatures and temperature-dependent rates of resource use and species interactions that affect population establishment and persistence).

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