Abrupt declines in marine phytoplankton production driven by warming and biodiversity loss in a microcosm experiment

Elvire Bestion*, Samuel Barton, Francisca C. García, Ruth Warfield, Gabriel Yvon-Durocher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

22 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Rising sea surface temperatures are expected to lead to the loss of phytoplankton biodiversity. However, we currently understand very little about the interactions between warming, loss of phytoplankton diversity and its impact on the oceans' primary production. We experimentally manipulated the species richness of marine phytoplankton communities under a range of warming scenarios, and found that ecosystem production declined more abruptly with species loss in communities exposed to higher temperatures. Species contributing positively to ecosystem production in the warmed treatments were those that had the highest optimal temperatures for photosynthesis, implying that the synergistic impacts of warming and biodiversity loss on ecosystem functioning were mediated by thermal trait variability. As species were lost from the communities, the probability of taxa remaining that could tolerate warming diminished, resulting in abrupt declines in ecosystem production. Our results highlight the potential for synergistic effects of warming and biodiversity loss on marine primary production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-466
Number of pages10
JournalEcology letters
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

Keywords

  • biodiversity loss
  • biodiversity–ecosystem functioning
  • Climate change
  • phytoplankton
  • thermal performance curve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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