Island-scale study reveals climate-change effects

Jan 31, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A large-scale UC Davis experiment with ants, lizards and seaweed on a dozen Caribbean islands shows that predicting the effects of environmental change on complex natural ecosystems requires a large laboratory.

The study, which was led by UC Davis ecologist Jonah Piovia-Scott, is described in today’s issue of the journal Science.

Piovia-Scott said previous studies have found that environmental changes (such as shifts in temperature, precipitation or storm severity) can affect ecosystems by adding or taking away plant and animal species, as well as by shifting the seasonal timing of key events (such as reproduction and migration).

“What we learned from our work in the Bahamas is that such changes can also alter how intact ecological communities function,” said Piovia-Scott. “But it took a big experimental setup to reveal those changes, and it will take more experiments like this one to learn how to develop successful conservation and management strategies.”

In their 2008-2009 experiment, Piovia-Scott and colleagues put on Caribbean islands to imitate the effects of (overfishing and nutrient runoff are expected to encourage global algae growth, and seasonal storms that deposit seaweed on islands are becoming more frequent as the climate warms). Then they recorded how the presence of the seaweed altered the interactions between island plants, the insects that ate the plants, and the and that ate those insects.

The details are reported in “Effects of Experimental Seaweed Deposition on Lizard and Ant Predation in an Island Food Web” by Piovia-Scott and fellow UC Davis ecologists David Spiller and Thomas Schoener.

Explore further: Rare south-west fish suffers further decline

Related Stories

A new appreciation of the ecology-evolution dynamic

Jan 28, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Ecology drives evolution. In today's issue of the journal Science, UC Davis expert Thomas Schoener describes growing evidence that the reverse is also true, and explores what that might mean to our unders ...

Climate change affects amphibian breeding, researchers find

Jan 10, 2011

If you hear frogs calling and it seems like the wrong time of year, scientists say it may be due to climate change. Researchers from the University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, writing in the Proceedings of ...

Coral Reefs: Ever Closer to Cliff's Edge

Nov 01, 2007

A study in the Nov. 1 issue of the journal Nature uses a novel analytical approach to assess the health of failing Caribbean coral reefs and offer suggestions for saving them.

Recommended for you

Keeping hungry jumbos at bay

6 hours ago

Until now electric fences and trenches have proved to be the most effective way of protecting farms and villages from night time raids by hungry elephants. But researchers think they may have come up with ...

Rare south-west fish suffers further decline

10 hours ago

Researchers have discovered that the range of one of Western Australia's rarest freshwater fishes, Balston's Pygmy Perch, could have declined by as much as 25 per cent.

Zoologists tap into GPS to track badger movements

11 hours ago

Zoologists from Trinity College Dublin's School of Natural Sciences are using GPS tracking technology to keep a 'Big Brother' eye on badgers in County Wicklow. By better understanding the badgers' movements and the reasons ...

Climate change costing soybean farmers

Mar 30, 2015

Even during a good year, soybean farmers nationwide are, in essence, taking a loss. That's because changes in weather patterns have been eating into their profits and taking quite a bite: $11 billion over ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.