Extreme climate events produce simultaneous changes to the mean and to the variance of climatic variables over ecological time scales. While several studies have investigated how ecological systems respond to changes in mean values of climate variables, the combined effects of mean and variance are poorly understood. We examined the response of low-shore assemblages of algae and invertebrates of rocky seashores in the northwest Mediterranean to factorial manipulations of mean intensity and temporal variance of aerial exposure, a type of disturbance whose intensity and temporal patterning of occurrence are predicted to change with changing climate conditions. Effects of variance were often in the opposite direction of those elicited by changes in the mean. Increasing aerial exposure at regular intervals had negative effects both on diversity of assemblages and on percent cover of filamentous and coarsely branched algae, but greater temporal variance drastically reduced these effects. The opposite was observed for the abundance of barnacles and encrusting coralline algae, where high temporal variance of aerial exposure either reversed a positive effect of mean intensity (barnacles) or caused a negative effect that did not occur under low temporal variance (encrusting algae). These results provide the first experimental evidence that changes in mean intensity and temporal variance of climatic variables affect natural assemblages of species interactively, suggesting that high temporal variance may mitigate the ecological impacts of ongoing and predicted climate changes.

Temporal variance reverses the ecological impact of high mean intensity of stress in climate change experiments

BENEDETTI-CECCHI L.;BERTOCCI I;MAGGI E
2006

Abstract

Extreme climate events produce simultaneous changes to the mean and to the variance of climatic variables over ecological time scales. While several studies have investigated how ecological systems respond to changes in mean values of climate variables, the combined effects of mean and variance are poorly understood. We examined the response of low-shore assemblages of algae and invertebrates of rocky seashores in the northwest Mediterranean to factorial manipulations of mean intensity and temporal variance of aerial exposure, a type of disturbance whose intensity and temporal patterning of occurrence are predicted to change with changing climate conditions. Effects of variance were often in the opposite direction of those elicited by changes in the mean. Increasing aerial exposure at regular intervals had negative effects both on diversity of assemblages and on percent cover of filamentous and coarsely branched algae, but greater temporal variance drastically reduced these effects. The opposite was observed for the abundance of barnacles and encrusting coralline algae, where high temporal variance of aerial exposure either reversed a positive effect of mean intensity (barnacles) or caused a negative effect that did not occur under low temporal variance (encrusting algae). These results provide the first experimental evidence that changes in mean intensity and temporal variance of climatic variables affect natural assemblages of species interactively, suggesting that high temporal variance may mitigate the ecological impacts of ongoing and predicted climate changes.
BENEDETTI-CECCHI, L.; Bertocci, I; Vaselli, S; Maggi, E
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/108304
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