To Everything There Is a Season: Summer-to-Winter Food Webs and the Functional Traits of Keystone Species.

https://arctichealth.org/en/permalink/ahliterature286485
Source
Integr Comp Biol. 2017 Oct 12;
Publication Type
Article
Date
Oct-12-2017
Author
Murray M Humphries
Emily K Studd
Allyson K Menzies
Stan Boutin
Source
Integr Comp Biol. 2017 Oct 12;
Date
Oct-12-2017
Language
English
Publication Type
Article
Abstract
From a trophic perspective, a seasonal increase in air temperature and photoperiod propagates as bottom-up pulse of primary production by plants, secondary production by herbivores, and tertiary production by carnivores. However, food web seasonality reflects not only abiotic variation in temperature and photoperiod, but also the composition of the biotic community and their functional responses to this variation. Some plants and animals-here referred to as seasonal specialists-decouple from food webs in winter through migration or various forms of metabolic arrest (e.g., senescence, diapause, and hibernation), whereas some plants and resident animals-here referred to as seasonal generalists-remain present and trophically coupled in winter. The co-occurrence of species with divergent responses to winter introduces seasonal variation in interaction strengths, resulting in summer-to-winter differences in trophic organization. Autumn cooling and shortening day length arrests primary productivity and cues seasonal herbivores to decouple, leaving generalist carnivores to concentrate their predation on the few generalist herbivores that remain resident, active, and vulnerable to predation in winter, which themselves feed on the few generalist plant structures available in winter. Thus, what was a bottom-up pulse, spread among many species in summer, including highly productive seasonal specialists, reverses into strong top-down regulation in winter that is top-heavy, and concentrated among a small number of generalist herbivores and their winter foods. Intermediate-sized, generalist herbivores that remain active and vulnerable to predation in winter are likely to be keystone species in seasonal food webs because they provide the essential ecosystem service of turning summer primary productivity into winter food for carnivores. Empirical examination of terrestrial mammals and their seasonal trophic status in the boreal forest and across an arctic-to-tropics seasonality gradient indicates seasonal specialization is more common among herbivores, small body sizes, and in regions with intermediate seasonality, than among carnivores, large body size, and regions where summers are very short or very long. Better understanding of food webs in seasonal environments, including their vulnerability and resilience to climate change, requires a multi-season perspective.
PubMed ID
29040576 View in PubMed
Less detail