Temporal variability declines with increasing trophic levels and spatial scales in freshwater ecosystems

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Tadeu Siqueira, Charles Hawkins, Julian Olden, Jonathan Tonkin, Lise Comte, Victor S. Saito, Thomas L. Anderson, Gedimar P. Barbosa, Núria Bonada, Claudia C. Bonecker


The temporal variability of ecological properties tends to decrease with spatial scale and levels of biological organization, but how does it propagate across trophic levels? We compiled metacommunity time-series datasets spanning basal resources to top predators from 355 freshwater sites across three continents. Temporal variability in abundance decreased from producers to tertiary consumers mainly at the local scale. Population synchrony within sites increased with trophic level, whereas spatial synchrony among communities decreased. While climate and diversity controlled temporal variability similarly across trophic levels, the relationship between metacommunity variability and spatial synchrony was stronger for top consumers. Our results suggest that mobile predators can stabilize metacommunities by buffering variability originating at the base of food webs. This finding demonstrates that the trophic structure of metacommunities, which integrates variation in organismal body size, dispersal, and environmental tolerance, should be considered when investigating ecological stability.




Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Life Sciences, Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


compensatory dynamics, International Long Term Ecological Research (ILTER), metacommunities, mobile consumers, Moran effect, portfolio effect, spatial synchrony, temporal variability


Published: 2022-05-31 06:04

Last Updated: 2022-09-01 01:43

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Data and Code Availability Statement:
The time-series data used here is the result of many years of challenging fieldwork. All authors have agreed that data and code should be made fully available to those who want to reproduce the results shown in the preprint - no questions asked. However, some of the authors would like to be contacted to discuss collaboration if users want to use the data for new analyses. Please, get in touch with me (TS) if that is the case. Link to Zenodo: https://zenodo.org/deposit/6591419