7-3: INFLUENCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON BIOTIC INTERACTIONS AND NETWORKS IN SPECIES COMMUNITIES

Biotic interactions among species, such as trophic, mutualistic or antagonistic interactions, are essential to maintain biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in terrestrial, lacustrine and marine ecosystems. However, climate change effects may have severe consequences on the networks of interacting species and ecosystem functioning. To date, models of species distributions only rarely account for interactions among species. Integrating biotic interactions in these models will therefore be key to predict the consequences of climate-induced changes on biodiversity and ecosystem services. These models will also provide a baseline for the development of management concepts in the focus regions (Africa, Latin America, North Sea).

Project area B3 aims at investigating the impacts of climate-induced changes on trophic and mutualistic interactions in terrestrial, lacustrine and marine species communities. The effects of climate change on biotic interactions will be studied across climate- and disturbance gradients. One of the key aspects of project area B3 is the continuation of long-term data monitoring and databases in the different focus ecosystems. Furthermore, mutualistic networks (flower visitors, frugivorous birds) and the functional diversity of species communities and ecosystem functions (pollination, larva- and seed dispersal, predation) will be assessed at high and low elevations, e.g., across elevational gradients of Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Andes and in the northeast Atlantic. 

A second focus of project area B3 is the integration of biotic interactions in species distribution models to improve predictions of future species communities and ecosystem services. Research of project area B3 contributes to the cross cutting themes “Biotic interactions” and “Multiple stressors” and the focus ecosystems “Savannahs” and “Shelf ecosystems”.

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