Scaling up to food webs: Effects of temperature on structure and function along a latitudinal gradient
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Global warming will affect every level of biological organization from the metabolism of individuals to the functioning of ecosystems. I explored the effects of warming on three rock-pool meioinvertebrate communities along a latitudinal gradient (temperate, tropical, and sub-Arctic regions) to determine effects on community and food-web structure and functioning. Warming affected regions differently, having a positive effect on sub-Arctic communities, a negative effect on temperate communities, and intermediate responses in tropical communities in terms of abundance, stability and extinction frequency. Differences in structural properties of the food webs supported the insurance hypothesis: that greater redundancy in webs results in greater stability, and helped to explain why the tropical community was more stable than the temperate community in warmed treatments. My study highlights the importance of considering differential response of species and communities from different latitudes and the importance of food web structure in predicting species response to global climate change.