Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 9008
Title: Within-lake heterogeneity mediates community response to warming trends
Author: Rachel A. Hovel, James T. Thorson, Jackie Carter, T. P. Quinn
Publication Year: 2017
Journal: Ecology
Volume: 98
Issue: 9
Pages: 2333¿2342
DOI: 10.1002/ecy.1944

Climate change is rapidly altering many aquatic systems, and life history traits and physiological diversity create differences in organism responses. In addition, habitat diversity may be expressed on small spatial scales, and it is therefore necessary to account for variation among both species and locations when evaluating climate impacts on biological communities. Here, we investigated the effects of temperature and spatial heterogeneity on long-term community composition in a large boreal lake. We used a five-decade time series of water temperature and relative abundance of fish species captured in the littoral zone throughout the summer at 10 discrete locations around the lake. We applied a spatial dynamic factor analysis (SDFA) model to this time series, which estimates the sensitivity of each species to changing water temperature while accounting for spatiotemporal variation. This analysis described the trend in community composition at each sampling location in the lake, given their different trends in temperature over time. The SDFA indicated different magnitude and direction of species responses to temperature; some species increased while others decreased in abundance. The model also identified five unique trends in species abundance across sites and time, indicating residual dynamics in abundance after accounting for temperature effects. Thus, different regions in the lake have experienced different trajectories in community change associated with different rates of temperature change. These results highlight the importance of considering habitat heterogeneity in explaining and predicting future species abundances, and our model provides a means of visualizing spatially-explicit temporal variation in species' dynamics.

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Theme: Ecosystem approach to improve management of marine resources
Foci: Understand how climate influences ecosystem variability.
Characterize the interaction between marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystem components.