Important clues about the ecological effects of climate change can arise from understanding the influence of other Earth-system processes on ecosystem dynamics but few studies span the inter-decadal timescales required. We, therefore, examined how variation in annual weather patterns associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) over four decades was linked to synchrony and stability in a metacommunity of stream invertebrates across multiple, contrasting headwaters in central Wales (UK). Prolonged warmer and wetter conditions during positive NAO winters appeared to synchronize variations in population and community composition among and within streams thereby reducing stability across levels of ecological organization. This climatically mediated synchronization occurred in all streams irrespective of acid-base status and land use, but was weaker where invertebrate communities were more functionally diverse. Wavelet linear models indicated that variation in the NAO explained up to 50% of overall synchrony in species abundances at a timescale of 4-6 years. The NAO appeared to affect ecological dynamics through local variations in temperature, precipitation and discharge, but increasing hydrochemical variability within sites during wetter winters might have contributed. Our findings illustrate how large-scale climatic fluctuations generated over the North Atlantic can affect population persistence and dynamics in inland freshwater ecosystems in ways that transcend local catchment character. Protecting and restoring functional diversity in stream communities might increase their stability against warmer, wetter conditions that are analogues of ongoing climate change. Catchment management could also dampen impacts and provide options for climate change adaptation

Larsen, S.; Joyce, F.; Vaughan, I.P.; Durance, I.; Walter, J.A.; Ormerod, S.J. (2024). Climatic effects on the synchrony and stability of temperate headwater invertebrates over four decades. GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY, 30 (1): e17017. doi: 10.1111/gcb.17017 handle: https://hdl.handle.net/10449/83881

Climatic effects on the synchrony and stability of temperate headwater invertebrates over four decades

Larsen, Stefano
Primo
;
2024-01-01

Abstract

Important clues about the ecological effects of climate change can arise from understanding the influence of other Earth-system processes on ecosystem dynamics but few studies span the inter-decadal timescales required. We, therefore, examined how variation in annual weather patterns associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) over four decades was linked to synchrony and stability in a metacommunity of stream invertebrates across multiple, contrasting headwaters in central Wales (UK). Prolonged warmer and wetter conditions during positive NAO winters appeared to synchronize variations in population and community composition among and within streams thereby reducing stability across levels of ecological organization. This climatically mediated synchronization occurred in all streams irrespective of acid-base status and land use, but was weaker where invertebrate communities were more functionally diverse. Wavelet linear models indicated that variation in the NAO explained up to 50% of overall synchrony in species abundances at a timescale of 4-6 years. The NAO appeared to affect ecological dynamics through local variations in temperature, precipitation and discharge, but increasing hydrochemical variability within sites during wetter winters might have contributed. Our findings illustrate how large-scale climatic fluctuations generated over the North Atlantic can affect population persistence and dynamics in inland freshwater ecosystems in ways that transcend local catchment character. Protecting and restoring functional diversity in stream communities might increase their stability against warmer, wetter conditions that are analogues of ongoing climate change. Catchment management could also dampen impacts and provide options for climate change adaptation
North Atlantic Oscillation
Wales
Benthic invertebrates
Ecological synchrony
Metacommunity
Settore BIO/07 - ECOLOGIA
2024
Larsen, S.; Joyce, F.; Vaughan, I.P.; Durance, I.; Walter, J.A.; Ormerod, S.J. (2024). Climatic effects on the synchrony and stability of temperate headwater invertebrates over four decades. GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY, 30 (1): e17017. doi: 10.1111/gcb.17017 handle: https://hdl.handle.net/10449/83881
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