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Decreased Precipitation Predictability Negatively Affects Population Growth through Differences in Adult Survival


Masó, Guillem; Ozgul, Arpat; Fitze, Patrick S (2020). Decreased Precipitation Predictability Negatively Affects Population Growth through Differences in Adult Survival. The American Naturalist, 195(1):43-55.

Abstract

Global climate change is leading to decreased climatic predictability. Theoretical work indicates that changes in the climate’s intrinsic predictability will affect population dynamics and extinction, but experimental evidence is scarce. Here, we experimentally tested whether differences in intrinsic precipitation predictability affect population dynamics of the European common lizard (Zootoca vivipara) by simulating more predictable (MP) and less predictable (LP) precipitation in 12 seminatural populations over 3 years and measuring different vital rates. A seasonal age-structured matrix model was parametrized to assess treatment effects on vital rates and asymptotic population growth (λ). There was a nonsignificant trend for survival being higher in MP than in LP precipitation, and no differences existed in reproductive rates. Small nonsignificant survival differences in adults explained changes in λ, and survival differences among age classes were in line with predictions from cohort resonance. As a result, λ was significantly higher in MP than in LP precipitation. This experimentally shows that small effects have major consequences on λ, that forecasted decreases in precipitation predictability are likely to exacerbate the current rate of population decline and extinction, and that stage-structured matrix models are required to unravel the aftermath of climate change.

Abstract

Global climate change is leading to decreased climatic predictability. Theoretical work indicates that changes in the climate’s intrinsic predictability will affect population dynamics and extinction, but experimental evidence is scarce. Here, we experimentally tested whether differences in intrinsic precipitation predictability affect population dynamics of the European common lizard (Zootoca vivipara) by simulating more predictable (MP) and less predictable (LP) precipitation in 12 seminatural populations over 3 years and measuring different vital rates. A seasonal age-structured matrix model was parametrized to assess treatment effects on vital rates and asymptotic population growth (λ). There was a nonsignificant trend for survival being higher in MP than in LP precipitation, and no differences existed in reproductive rates. Small nonsignificant survival differences in adults explained changes in λ, and survival differences among age classes were in line with predictions from cohort resonance. As a result, λ was significantly higher in MP than in LP precipitation. This experimentally shows that small effects have major consequences on λ, that forecasted decreases in precipitation predictability are likely to exacerbate the current rate of population decline and extinction, and that stage-structured matrix models are required to unravel the aftermath of climate change.

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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)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:1 January 2020
Deposited On:17 Feb 2021 14:54
Last Modified:18 Feb 2021 21:00
Publisher:University of Chicago Press
ISSN:0003-0147
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1086/706183

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