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UCLA life scientists present new insights on climate change and species interactions
Date:5/22/2013

ho noted that although biologists are becoming increasingly aware that changes in species interactions are likely to be one of most important biological impacts of climate change, they have found it challenging to understand and predict.

Savage's research team has recently made significant progress on this front by developing a biotraits database. This massive dataset has been compiled from the literature and has been standardized and organized so that data can be combined and compared. This group has already used statistical analysis and mechanistic mathematical models to provide information on how various biological traits of organisms respond to changes in temperature and other environmental factors.

In particular, Savage and his team have looked at the impact temperature changes can have on the rate at which an organism uses energy, known as the metabolic rate. This fundamental process governs many aspects of an organism's life, including how much food it will eat, how fast it can move, how much it sleeps and how fast its heart beats. The team makes predictions about how an organism's activity and thus the broader ecology are affected by temperature.

In the current research, Savage and his colleagues examined how organisms' different physiological responses to rising temperatures could impact what are known as consumerresource interactions. These are interactions between two organisms that lead to a "feeding" event a prime example being a predator (consumer) and its prey (resource). Taken as a whole, a collection of consumerresource interactions constitutes the food chain or food web that drives the diversity, dynamics and stability of particular communities and ecosystems.

Their model accounts for the fact that a change in temperature is likely to result in some predators becoming better at capturing prey while some prey animals become more efficient at evading capture, leading to imbalances in the food chain and p
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Contact: Stuart Wolpert
swolpert@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0511
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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