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Upstream trophic structure modulates downstream community dynamics via resource subsidies


Harvey, Eric; Gounand, Isabelle; Little, Chelsea J.; Fronhofer, Emanuel A.; Altermatt, Florian (2017). Upstream trophic structure modulates downstream community dynamics via resource subsidies. Ecology and Evolution, 7(15):5724-5731.

Abstract

In many natural systems, the physical structure of the landscape dictates the flow of resources. Despite mounting evidence that communities’ dynamics can be indirectly coupled by reciprocal among ecosystem resource flows, our understanding of how directional resource flows might indirectly link biological communities is limited. We here propose that differences in community structure upstream should lead to differ- ent downstream dynamics, even in the absence of dispersal of organisms. We report an experimental test of the effect of upstream community structure on downstream community dynamics in a simplified but highly controlled setting, using protist micro- cosms. We implemented directional flows of resources, without dispersal, from a standard resource pool into upstream communities of contrasting interaction struc- ture and then to further downstream communities of either one or two trophic levels. Our results demonstrate that different types of species interactions in upstream habi- tats may lead to different population sizes and levels of biomass in these upstream habitats. This, in turn, leads to varying levels of detritus transfer (dead biomass) to the downstream communities, thus influencing their population densities and trophic in- teractions in predictable ways. Our results suggest that the structure of species inter- actions in directionally structured ecosystems can be a key mediator of alterations to downstream habitats. Alterations to upstream habitats can thus cascade down to downstream communities, even without dispersal.

Abstract

In many natural systems, the physical structure of the landscape dictates the flow of resources. Despite mounting evidence that communities’ dynamics can be indirectly coupled by reciprocal among ecosystem resource flows, our understanding of how directional resource flows might indirectly link biological communities is limited. We here propose that differences in community structure upstream should lead to differ- ent downstream dynamics, even in the absence of dispersal of organisms. We report an experimental test of the effect of upstream community structure on downstream community dynamics in a simplified but highly controlled setting, using protist micro- cosms. We implemented directional flows of resources, without dispersal, from a standard resource pool into upstream communities of contrasting interaction struc- ture and then to further downstream communities of either one or two trophic levels. Our results demonstrate that different types of species interactions in upstream habi- tats may lead to different population sizes and levels of biomass in these upstream habitats. This, in turn, leads to varying levels of detritus transfer (dead biomass) to the downstream communities, thus influencing their population densities and trophic in- teractions in predictable ways. Our results suggest that the structure of species inter- actions in directionally structured ecosystems can be a key mediator of alterations to downstream habitats. Alterations to upstream habitats can thus cascade down to downstream communities, even without dispersal.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:cross-ecosystem subsidies, directional flows, meta-ecosystems, river ecosystems
Language:English
Date:August 2017
Deposited On:05 Sep 2017 12:12
Last Modified:05 Sep 2017 13:15
Publisher:Wiley Open Access
ISSN:2045-7758
Funders:Swiss National Science Foundation, Grant Number PP00P3_150698
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.3144

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