Biotic Interactions in the Face of Climate Change

  • Ellen Gellesch
  • Roman Hein
  • Anja Jaeschke
  • Carl Beierkuhnlein
  • Anke Jentsch
Part of the Progress in Botany book series (BOTANY, volume 74)


Recent evidence suggests shifts in biotic interactions due to climate change. Accordingly, there is a growing body of scientific literature available which includes review articles on specific types of biotic interactions. However, up to date there is no review, which summarizes insights on biotic interactions on a global scale and across ecosystems and species.

We derived major findings concerning climate change effects on biotic interactions from a formalized literature search in the ISI Web of Science. Increased carbon dioxide levels along with global warming appear to be the most influential factors for the alteration of biotic interactions including, e.g., competition and facilitation, herbivory and pollination, mycorrhiza, parasitism, mutualism, as well as predator–prey interaction. Ecosystems holding large trophic networks and high biodiversity prove to be more resistant towards the effects of climate change than ecosystems disturbed by human influences. Regarding study location, most research up to date is carried out in terrestrial temperate regions, thus proving a strong bias in knowledge sources. The most investigated interaction partners are herbivore insects interacting with grass species. It is often found that indirect effects of altered biotic interactions due to environmental changes on the performance of members of biocoenoses are more pronounced than direct effects of abiotic drivers. With respect to abiotic factors the focus of most investigation is an increase in temperature. Far less data are available on effects of extreme weather events such as drought, heavy rainfall, late frost, and warm spells. Based on our survey, we propose a shift in research towards more complex types of interactions with multiple interaction partners as well as multifactor climate change scenarios and events.


Climate Change Interaction Partner Biotic Interaction Extreme Weather Event Plant Interaction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by the BfN (Federal Agency for Nature Conservation) of Germany. We are also very thankful to the reviewers for their valuable comments.

We thank R. Stahlmann for provinding support with the design of one of the figures.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen Gellesch
    • 1
  • Roman Hein
    • 1
  • Anja Jaeschke
    • 2
  • Carl Beierkuhnlein
    • 2
  • Anke Jentsch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Disturbance EcologyUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  2. 2.Department of BiogeographyUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany

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