Warming and shifts in litter quality drive multiple responses in freshwater detritivore communities

Sandra Benavides-Gordillo, Angélica L. González, Mônica F. Kersch-Becker, Marcelo S. Moretti, Dieison A. Moi, Marcos P.M. Aidar, Gustavo Q. Romero

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Aquatic detritivores are highly sensitive to changes in temperature and leaf litter quality caused by increases in atmospheric CO2. While impacts on detritivores are evident at the organismal and population level, the mechanisms shaping ecological communities remain unclear. Here, we conducted field and laboratory experiments to examine the interactive effects of changes in leaf litter quality, due to increasing atmospheric CO2, and warming, on detritivore survival (at both organismal and community levels) and detritus consumption rates. Detritivore community consisted of the collector-gathering Polypedilum (Chironomidae), the scraper and facultative filtering-collector Atalophlebiinae (Leptophlebiidae), and Calamoceratidae (Trichoptera), a typical shredder. Our findings reveal intricate responses across taxonomic levels. At the organismal level, poor-quality leaf litter decreased survivorship of Polypedilum and Atalophlebiinae. We observed taxon-specific responses to warming, with varying effects on growth and consumption rates. Notably, species interactions (competition, facilitation) might have mediated detritivore responses to climate stressors, influencing community dynamics. While poor-quality leaf litter and warming independently affected detritivore larvae abundance of Atalophebiinae and Calamoceratidae, their combined effects altered detritus consumption and emergence of adults of Atalophlebiinae. Furthermore, warming influenced species abundances differently, likely exacerbating intraspecific competition in some taxa while accelerating development in others. Our study underscores the importance of considering complex ecological interactions in predicting the impact of climate change on freshwater ecosystem functioning. Understanding these emergent properties contributes to a better understanding of how detritivore communities may respond to future environmental conditions, providing valuable insights for ecosystem management and conservation efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11137
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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