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Assessing the response of nematode communities to climate change-driven warming: a microcosm experiment
Gingold, R.; Moens, T.; Rocha-Olivares, A. (2013). Assessing the response of nematode communities to climate change-driven warming: a microcosm experiment. PLoS One 8(6): e66653. dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0066653
In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Gingold, R.
  • Moens, T., more
  • Rocha-Olivares, A.

Abstract
    Biodiversity has diminished over the past decades with climate change being among the main responsible factors. One consequence of climate change is the increase in sea surface temperature, which, together with long exposure periods in intertidal areas, may exceed the tolerance level of benthic organisms. Benthic communities may suffer structural changes due to the loss of species or functional groups, putting ecological services at risk. In sandy beaches, free-living marine nematodes usually are the most abundant and diverse group of intertidal meiofauna, playing an important role in the benthic food web. While apparently many functionally similar nematode species co-exist temporally and spatially, experimental results on selected bacterivore species suggest no functional overlap, but rather an idiosyncratic contribution to ecosystem functioning. However, we hypothesize that functional redundancy is more likely to observe when taking into account the entire diversity of natural assemblages. We conducted a microcosm experiment with two natural communities to assess their stress response to elevated temperature. The two communities differed in diversity (high [HD] vs. low [LD]) and environmental origin (harsh vs. moderate conditions). We assessed their stress resistance to the experimental treatment in terms of species and diversity changes, and their function in terms of abundance, biomass, and trophic diversity. According to the Insurance Hypothesis, we hypothesized that the HD community would cope better with the stressful treatment due to species functional overlap, whereas the LD community functioning would benefit from species better adapted to harsh conditions. Our results indicate no evidence of functional redundancy in the studied nematofaunal communities. The species loss was more prominent and size specific in the HD; large predators and omnivores were lost, which may have important consequences for the benthic food web. Yet, we found evidence for alternative diversity-ecosystem functioning relationships, such as the Rivets and the Idiosyncrasy Model.

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