Vanbergen AJ, Boissieres C, Gray A & Chapman DS (2021) Habitat loss, predation pressure and episodic heat-shocks interact to impact arthropods and photosynthetic functioning of microecosystems. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288 (1948), Art. No.: 20210032. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2021.0032
Ecosystems face multiple, potentially interacting, anthropogenic pressures that can modify biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Using a bryophyte–microarthropod microecosystem we tested the combined effects of habitat loss, episodic heat-shocks and an introduced non-native apex predator on ecosystem function (chlorophyll fluorescence as an indicator of photosystem II function) and microarthropod communities (abundance and body size). The photosynthetic function was degraded by the sequence of heat-shock episodes, but unaffected by microecosystem patch size or top-down pressure from the introduced predator. In small microecosystem patches without the non-native predator, Acari abundance decreased with heat-shock frequency, while Collembola abundance increased. These trends disappeared in larger microecosystem patches or when predators were introduced, although Acari abundance was lower in large patches that underwent heat-shocks and were exposed to the predator. Mean assemblage body length (Collembola) was reduced independently in small microecosystem patches and with greater heat-shock frequency. Our experimental simulation of episodic heatwaves, habitat loss and non-native predation pressure in microecosystems produced evidence of individual and potentially synergistic and antagonistic effects on ecosystem function and microarthropod communities. Such complex outcomes of interactions between multiple stressors need to be considered when assessing anthropogenic risks for biota and ecosystem functioning.
microarthropod abundance; photosystem disruption; body size; apex predator; mesocosm; ecosystem heating
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences: Volume 288, Issue 1948
|Publication date online||07/04/2021|
|Date accepted by journal||16/03/2021|