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(A bit) Earlier or later is always better: Phenological shifts in consumer–resource interactions

Abstract

Phenology is a crucial life history trait for species interactions and it can have great repercussions on the persistence of communities and ecosystems. Changes in phenology caused by climate change can disrupt species interactions causing decreases in consumer growth rates, as suggested by the match–mismatch hypothesis (MMH). However, it is still not clear what the long-term consequences of such phenological changes are. In this paper, we present models in which phenology and consumer–resource feedbacks determine long-term community dynamics. Our results show that consumer viability is constrained by limits in the amount of phenological mismatch with their resources, in accordance with the MMH, but the effects of phenological shifts are often nonmonotonic. Consumers generally have higher abundances when they recruit some time before or after their resources because this reduces the long-term effects of overexploitation that would otherwise occur under closer synchrony. Changes in the duration of recruitment phenologies also have important impacts on community stability, with shorter phenologies promoting oscillations and cycles. For small community modules, the effects of phenological shifts on populations can be explained, to a great extent, as superpositions of their effects on consumer–resource pairs. We highlight that consumer–resource feedbacks and overexploitation, which are not typically considered in phenological models, are important factors shaping the long-term responses to phenological changes caused by climate change.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Dorixa Monsalve, Harold Perez de Vladar, and Jarad Mellard for comments of earlier versions of this paper. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for comments and criticisms that greatly improved this paper. TAR and ML thank the support by the TULIP Laboratory of Excellence (ANR-10-LABX-41).

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Correspondence to Tomás A. Revilla.

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Revilla, T.A., Encinas-Viso, F. & Loreau, M. (A bit) Earlier or later is always better: Phenological shifts in consumer–resource interactions. Theor Ecol 7, 149–162 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12080-013-0207-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12080-013-0207-3

Keywords

  • Phenology
  • Trophic interactions
  • Recruitment
  • Overexploitation
  • Climate change
  • Match–mismatch hypothesis