Consequences of climate-induced range expansions on multiple ecosystem functions

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Balik, Jared A.
Greig, Hamish S.
Taylor, Brad W.
Wissinger, Scott A.
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Climate-driven species range shifts and expansions are changing community composition, yet the functional consequences in natural systems are mostly unknown. By combining a 30- year survey of subalpine pond larval caddisfly assemblages with species-specific functional traits (nitrogen and phosphorus excretion, and detritus processing rates), we tested how three upslope range expansions affected species’ relative contributions to caddisfly-driven nutrient supply and detritus processing. A subdominant resident species (Ag. deflata) consistently made large relative contributions to caddisfly-driven nitrogen supply throughout all range expansions, thus “regulating” the caddisfly-driven nitrogen supply. Whereas, phosphorus supply and detritus processing were regulated by the dominant resident species (L. externus) until the third range expansion (by N. hostilis). Since the third range expansion, N. hostilis’s relative contribution to caddisfly-driven phosphorus supply increased, displacing L. externus’s role in regulating caddisfly-driven phosphorus supply. Meanwhile, detritus processing contributions became similar among the dominant resident, subdominant residents, and range expanding species. Total ecosystem process rates did not change throughout any of the range expansions. Thus, shifts in species’ relative functional roles may occur before shifts in total ecosystem process rates, and changes in species’ functional roles may stabilize processes in ecosystems undergoing change.
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Balik, J.A., Greig, H.S., Taylor, B.W. et al. Consequences of climate-induced range expansions on multiple ecosystem functions. Commun Biol 6, 390 (2023).
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