Body size distributions signal a regime shift in a lake ecosystem

Spanbauer, Trisha L., Allen, Craig R., Angeler, David G., Eason, Tarsha, Fritz, Sherilyn C., Garmestani, Ahjond S., Nash, Kirsty L., Stone, Jeffery R., Stow, Craig A., and Sundstrom, Shana M. (2016) Body size distributions signal a regime shift in a lake ecosystem. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological Sciences, 283 (1833). 20160249. pp. 1-6.

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Abstract

Communities of organisms, from mammals to microorganisms, have discontinuous distributions of body size. This pattern of size structuring is a conservative trait of community organization and is a product of processes that occur at multiple spatial and temporal scales. In this study, we assessed whether body size patterns serve as an indicator of a threshold between alternative regimes. Over the past 7000 years, the biological communities of Foy Lake (Montana, USA) have undergone a major regime shift owing to climate change. We used a palaeoecological record of diatom communities to estimate diatom sizes, and then analysed the discontinuous distribution of organism sizes over time. We used Bayesian classification and regression tree models to determine that all time intervals exhibited aggregations of sizes separated by gaps in the distribution and found a significant change in diatom body size distributions approximately 150 years before the identified ecosystem regime shift. We suggest that discontinuity analysis is a useful addition to the suite of tools for the detection of early warning signals of regime shifts.

Item ID: 46085
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2954
Keywords: palaeoecology, regime shift, climate change, thresholds, body size, resilience
Funders: United States Geological Survey, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, National Science Foundation (NSF), Swedish Research Councils (SRC), University of Nebraska, National Research Council
Projects and Grants: NSF 0903469 and 1251678, SRC VR 2014-5828 and Formas 2014-1193
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2016 07:37
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060206 Palaeoecology @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960807 Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 33%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 34%
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