Secondary production, the growth of new heterotrophic biomass, is a key process in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems that has been carefully measured in many flowing water ecosystems. We combine structural equation modeling with the first worldwide dataset on annual secondary production of stream invertebrate communities to reveal core pathways linking air temperature and precipitation to secondary production. In the United States, where the most extensive set of secondary production estimates and covariate data were available, we show that precipitation-mediated, low-stream flow events have a strong negative effect on secondary production. At larger scales (United States, Europe, Central America, and Pacific), we demonstrate the significance of a positive twostep pathway from air to water temperature to increasing secondary production. Our results provide insights into the potential effects of climate change on secondary production and demonstrate a modeling framework that can be applied across ecosystems.
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