Climate variability and aridity modulate the role of leaf shelters for arthropods: A global experiment

Gustavo Q. Romero, Thiago Gonçalves-Souza, Tomas Roslin, Robert J Marquis, Nicholas A.C. Marino, Vojtech Novotny, Tatiana Cornelissen, Jerome Orivel, Shen Sui, Gustavo Aires, Reuber Antoniazzi, Wesley Dáttilo, Crasso P  B Breviglieri, Annika Busse, Heloise Gibb, Thiago J. Izzo, Tomas Kadlec, Victoria Kemp, Monica Kersch-Becker, Michal KnappPavel Kratina, Rebecca Luke, Stefan Majnarić, Robin Maritz, Paulo Mateus Martins, Esayas Mendesil, Jaroslav Michalko, Anna Mrazova, Samuel Novais, Cássio C. Pereira, Mirela S. Perić, Jana S. Petermann, Sérvio P. Ribeiro, Katerina Sam, M. Kurtis Trzcinski, Camila Vieira, Natalie Westwood, Maria L. Bernaschini, Valentina Carvajal, Ezequiel González, Mariana Jausoro, Stanis Kaensin, Fabiola Ospina, E. Jacob Cristóbal-Pérez, Mauricio Quesada, Pierre Rogy, Diane S Srivastava, Scarlett Szpryngiel, Ayco J.M. Tack, Tiit Teder, Martin Videla, Mari Liis Viljur, Julia Koricheva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Current climate change is disrupting biotic interactions and eroding biodiversity worldwide. However, species sensitive to aridity, high temperatures, and climate variability might find shelter in microclimatic refuges, such as leaf rolls built by arthropods. To explore how the importance of leaf shelters for terrestrial arthropods changes with latitude, elevation, and climate, we conducted a distributed experiment comparing arthropods in leaf rolls versus control leaves across 52 sites along an 11,790 km latitudinal gradient. We then probed the impact of short- versus long-term climatic impacts on roll use, by comparing the relative impact of conditions during the experiment versus average, baseline conditions at the site. Leaf shelters supported larger organisms and higher arthropod biomass and species diversity than non-rolled control leaves. However, the magnitude of the leaf rolls’ effect differed between long- and short-term climate conditions, metrics (species richness, biomass, and body size), and trophic groups (predators vs. herbivores). The effect of leaf rolls on predator richness was influenced only by baseline climate, increasing in magnitude in regions experiencing increased long-term aridity, regardless of latitude, elevation, and weather during the experiment. This suggests that shelter use by predators may be innate, and thus, driven by natural selection. In contrast, the effect of leaf rolls on predator biomass and predator body size decreased with increasing temperature, and increased with increasing precipitation, respectively, during the experiment. The magnitude of shelter usage by herbivores increased with the abundance of predators and decreased with increasing temperature during the experiment. Taken together, these results highlight that leaf roll use may have both proximal and ultimate causes. Projected increases in climate variability and aridity are, therefore, likely to increase the importance of biotic refugia in mitigating the effects of climate change on species persistence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3694-3710
Number of pages17
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • General Environmental Science


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