Ecology of Climate Change: The Importance of Biotic Interactions


Rising temperatures are affecting organisms in all of Earth's biomes, but the complexity of ecological responses to climate change has hampered the development of a conceptually unified treatment of them. In a remarkably comprehensive synthesis, this book presents past, ongoing, and future ecological responses to climate change in the context of two simplifying hypotheses, facilitation and interference, arguing that biotic interactions may be the primary driver of ecological responses to climate change across all...

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Rising temperatures are affecting organisms in all of Earth's biomes, but the complexity of ecological responses to climate change has hampered the development of a conceptually unified treatment of them. In a remarkably comprehensive synthesis, this book presents past, ongoing, and future ecological responses to climate change in the context of two simplifying hypotheses, facilitation and interference, arguing that biotic interactions may be the primary driver of ecological responses to climate change across all levels of biological organization.

Eric Post's synthesis and analyses of ecological consequences of climate change extend from the Late Pleistocene to the present, and through the next century of projected warming. His investigation is grounded in classic themes of enduring interest in ecology, but developed around novel conceptual and mathematical models of observed and predicted dynamics. Using stability theory as a recurring theme, Post argues that the magnitude of climatic variability may be just as important as the magnitude and direction of change in determining whether populations, communities, and species persist. He urges a more refined consideration of species interactions, emphasizing important distinctions between lateral and vertical interactions and their disparate roles in shaping responses of populations, communities, and ecosystems to climate change.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In this book . . . Post steps outside this traditional approach to offer a detailed exploration of the role that biotic interactions might play in ecosystem responses to climate change. The book is a highly detailed, well-illustrated, and thoroughly explained argument that these biotic interactions are not just factors that must be taken into consideration, but rather might be in fact determining how individuals, populations, communities, and ecosystems respond to climate change."--Choice

"A truly extraordinary amount of information is contained in this book, ranging from historic climate change to future predictions, and from species through ecosystems. Post certainly achieves his stated goal of showcasing the role of biotic interactions in determining how ecological systems respond to climate change. I plan to assign course readings from this book in my future teaching career, and I foresee myself pulling it off the shelf frequently as a reference."--Amy M. Iler, Ecology

"Eric Post's recent book, Ecology of Climate Change: The Importance of Biotic Interactions, has an important role to play. It can increase understanding among budding and established biologists by serving as a reference and tutorial. . . . No volume can provide the definitive answer on a topic as broad and complex--or as important--as climate change ecology, but Post's contribution is a useful start."--BioScience

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691148472
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 8/11/2013
  • Series: Monographs in Population Biology
  • Pages: 408
  • Sales rank: 1,516,464
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Post is professor of biology and ecology at Pennsylvania State University. He has published dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters on ecological responses to climate change, and is coeditor of Wildlife Conservation in a Changing Climate.

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Table of Contents

Preface: Purpose, Perspective, and Scope xiii

The Tension and Facilitation Hypotheses of Biotic Response to Climate Change xiv

Acknowledgments xxi

1. A Brief Overview of Recent Climate Change and Its Ecological Context 1

  • Climate Change versus Global Warming 3
  • Temperature Changes 3
  • Precipitation Changes 9
  • Changes in Snow and Ice Cover 11
  • El NiƱo-Southern Oscillation 13
  • Paleoclimatic Variation 15
  • Studying the Ecological Effects of Climate Change 16
  • The Study Site at Kangerlussuaq, Greenland 21

2. Pleistocene Warming and Extinctions 24

  • The Pleistocene Environment As Indicated by Its Fauna 24
  • Biogeography and Magnitude of Pleistocene Extinctions and Climate Change 29
  • Case Studies of Pleistocene Megafaunal Extinctions 35
  • Pleistocene Microfaunal Extinctions and Species Redistributions 44
  • Spatial, Temporal, and Taxonomic Heterogeneity in
  • Pleistocene Redistributions: Lessons to Be Learned 46
  • Reconsidering the Megafaunal Extinctions: The Zimov Model 50
  • Relevance to Contemporary Climate Change 52

3. Life History Variation and Phenology 54

  • Geographic and Taxonomic Variation in Phenological Response to Climate Change 54
  • Pattern and Scale in Phenological Dynamics 59
  • Phenology and the Aggregate Life History Response to Climate Change 64
  • Temporal Dependence and a Model of Phenological Dynamics 67
  • The Iwasa-Levin Model and Its Relevance to Climate Change 75
  • Modeling the Contribution of Phenology to Population Dynamics 86
  • Trends and Statistical Considerations 88
  • Empirical Examples Linking Climate, Phenology, and Abundance 91
  • More Complex and Subtle Forms of Phenological Variation 92

4. Population Dynamics and Stability 96

  • Establishing the Framework for Addressing Population Response to Climate Change 97
  • Classic Treatments of Population Stability Viewed Afresh through the Lens of Climate Change 102
  • Incorporation of Climate into Time Series Models 106
  • Simultaneous Thresholds in Population-Intrinsic and Population-Extrinsic Factors 111
  • Population Synchrony and Extinction Risk 119
  • Erosion of Population Cycles 124
  • Global Population Dynamics, Population Diversity, and the Portfolio Effect 128

5. The Niche Concept 132

  • Grinnellian Niches and Climate Change 134
  • Niche Vacancy 138
  • Niche Evolution 139
  • Phenotypic Plasticity and Evolutionary Response to Climate Change 144
  • Niche Conservatism 146
  • Modes of Niche Response to Climate Change 149
  • Bioclimatic Envelope Modeling and Environmental Niche Models 155

6. Community Dynamics and Stability 163

  • Communities Defined through Lateral and Vertical Structuring 164
  • Regional versus Local Diversity and the Community Concept 165
  • Exploitation and Interference Interactions 167
  • Gleasonian and Clementsian Communities 169
  • Non-analogues: The Community Is Dead-Long Live the Community 171
  • The Role of Climate in Mediating Species Interactions versus the Role of Species Interactions in Mediating Community Response to Climate Change 176
  • Phenology and the Ephemeral Nature of Communities 181
  • The Green World Hypothesis, and Phenology As an Index of Resource Availability 186
  • Asynchrony and Trophic Mismatch 187
  • The Cafeteria Analogy of Trophic Mismatch in Time and Space 198
  • Gleasonian Dynamics and Stability in Laterally Structured Communities 200
  • Dynamics and Stability in Vertically Structured Communities 203
  • Development of the Process-Oriented Model for Vertical Communities 205
  • Derivation of the Predator-Level Statistical Model 207
  • Derivation of the Herbivore-Level Statistical Model 208
  • Derivation of the Vegetation-Level Statistical Model 210
  • The Community Matrix and Its Stability Properties 211
  • Trophic Interactions, Dynamic Complexity, and Stability in Vertical Communities 213

7. Biodiversity, Distributions, and Extinction 217

  • Distributional Shifts in Species' Ranges 222
  • Scale and Pattern in Distribution and Abundance 224
  • Biodiversity Changes through Elevational Colonization and Extinction 226
  • Amphibian Extinction and the Climate-Pathogen Hypothesis 230
  • Biodiversity and Stability 233
  • Tropical Deforestation and Climate Change 245
  • Biodiversity, Climate Change, and Human Exploitation 248

8. Ecosystem Function and Dynamics 249

  • Stability, Diversity, and Ecosystem Resilience 254
  • Nutrient, Temperature, and CO2 Manipulations 257
  • Carbon Dynamics and Projected Responses to Global Climate Change 265
  • Tropical Deforestation, Carbon Turnover, and Model Projections of Changes in Carbon Dynamics 276
  • Role of Animals in Ecosystems of Relevance to Climate Change 286
  • Herbivores, Warming, and Ecosystem Carbon Dynamics 289

9. Brief Remarks on Some Especially Important Considerations 297

  • Trends and Variability Revisited 297
  • Community Response to Climate Change: Further Considerations 299
  • The Scale-Invariant Nature of Non-analogues 300
  • Lack of Detection Does Not Always Mean Lack of Response 300
  • A Greater Emphasis on Phenology 301
  • Direct versus Indirect Ecological Responses and the Thief in the Night 302

References 303

Index 359

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