Does global warming induce segregation among alien and native beetle species in a mountain-top?
The last few centuries have seen an increase in the mean air temperature of the planet, a phenomenon that is called “global warming”. One of the most sensitive habitats to the effects of global warming is the high-elevation mountain environments, because these habitats are characterized by low temperature. Cushion plants are one of the best-adapted growth forms in this habitat, generating more suitable sites for other plants and insects. In the present study, we experimentally evaluated the effects of global warming by open-top chambers on the abundance and interaction of two ladybirds at 3,600 m, growing over cushions of the Azorella monantha species in the Andes of central Chile. Additionally, we measured variation in temperature, water content, and food availability by the presence of open-top chambers as possible mechanisms of spatial segregation between ladybirds. Without open-top chambers, the abundance of native and alien beetles was similar; but with open-top chambers, the native beetle species is spatially segregated by alien species, decreasing in abundance. The open-top chambers increase temperature and food availability, but not water content. We suggest that under the global warming scenario, the native insects will decrease in abundance or become extinct by the presence of alien insects, at least in the high-elevation mountain environments.
KeywordsAlien species Cushion plants Global warming High-elevation mountain environments Ladybirds Open-top chambers
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