A biotic perspective on climate change and context dependencies
In a fresh collaboration paper lead by Vigdis Vandvik, University of Bergen (see UiB news), we demonstrate that biotic terms to a large degree explain variation in community turnover in replicated climate change experiments along temperature and precipitation gradients.
Photo: Olav Skarpaas
Inspired by this work, and a commentary by Lenoir, I would like to highlight the importance of three lines of ongoing research:
- It is clear that biotic communities modulate effects of climate forcing, and that this may happen through species interactions yet to be explored in detail. Everyone knows that foxes eat lemmings, but what do mosses do to violets? Or Salix shrubs? Or birch trees? We need experiments to understand the nature and implications of these and many more interactions.
- The importance of biotic interactions supports the idea that species composition is a key defining characteristic of ecosystems. This, in turn, highlights the importance of systematics – of organisms, and of ecosystems. We need to know the basic units, their properties and relatedness.
- Our ability to predict ecosystem change depends critically on representation of key processes in models (statistical, dynamic or other). With deeper understanding of the biotic processes, we will be in a better position to identify relevant predictors, as also pointed out by Lenoir.
Much exciting work is happening in these areas within our networks. Looking forward to the next developments!