Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 11, pp 2415–2422

Running to stand still: temperature effects on species richness, species turnover, and functional community dynamics

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00227-011-1827-z

Cite this article as:
Hillebrand, H., Burgmer, T. & Biermann, E. Mar Biol (2012) 159: 2415. doi:10.1007/s00227-011-1827-z


The information on temperature-mediated changes in biodiversity in local assemblages is scarce and mainly addresses the change in species richness. However, warming may have more consistent effects on species turnover than on the number of species. Moreover, very few studies extended the analysis of changes in biodiversity and species composition to questions of associated ecosystem functions such as primary production. Here, we synthesize 4 case studies employing microalgal microcosms within the Aquashift priority program to ask (1) do warming-related shifts in species richness correspond to changes in the rate of biomass production, (2) do similar relationships prevail for evenness, and (3) do warming-related shifts in species turnover stabilize or destabilize biomass production? Two of the four cases are previously unpublished, and for a third case, the link between diversity and functional consequences of temperature was not analyzed before. We found accelerated loss of species with warming in all cases. Biomass production was lower with lower species richness in most cases but increased with lower evenness. Most importantly, the relation between functional and compositional stability was different between cases: More rapid extinction resulted in more variable biomass in 2 cases conducted with a limited species pool, indicating that compositional destabilization relates to functional variability. By contrast, the only experiment with a large species pool (30 species) allowed previously rare species to become dominant in the community and showed more stable biomass at high turnover, indicating that compensatory dynamics (turnover) can promote functional stability. These 4 independent experiments highlight the need to consider both compositional and functional consequences of altered temperature regimes.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helmut Hillebrand
    • 1
  • Tanja Burgmer
    • 2
  • Erich Biermann
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM)Carl-von-Ossietzky University OldenburgWilhelmshavenGermany
  2. 2.AquaEcologyOldenburgGermany
  3. 3.Zoological InstituteUniversity of CologneKölnGermany