Multivariate climate change can favor large herbivore body size in food webs
Climate change is expected to favor smaller-bodied organisms through effects of temperature on physiological performance and food-web interactions, so much so that smaller body size has been touted as a universal response to global warming alongside range shifts and changing phenology. However, climate change involves more than warming. It is multivariate, and the interplay between climate variables may result in less straightforward predictions. We present a model that considers the simultaneous effect of multiple variables (temperature, CO2, and moisture) on herbivore body sizes within a tritrophic food web comprised of vegetation, herbivores, and a shared predator. The model accounts for climate effects on animal behavior, plant and animal metabolism, and plant quality to explore emergent effects on herbivore body size. Our analysis reveals that some common multivariate climate change scenarios may favor larger-bodied herbivores, challenging previous findings of shifts toward small-bodied herbivores in the face of rising temperatures.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Smith-Ramesh, Rosenblatt, A. E., & Schmitz, O. J. (2018). Multivariate Climate Change Can Favor Large Herbivore Body Size in Food Webs. The American Naturalist, 191(3), 333–342. https://doi.org/10.1086/695768