Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0081354
Title (Primary) Thermal carrying capacity for a thermally-sensitive species at the warmest edge of its range
Author Ayllón, D.; Nicola, G.G.; Elvira, B.; Parra, I.; Almodóvar, A.
Journal PLOS ONE
Year 2013
Department OESA
Volume 8
Issue 11
Page From e81354
Language englisch
UFZ wide themes RU5;
Abstract Anthropogenic environmental change is causing unprecedented rates of population extirpation and altering the setting of range limits for many species. Significant population declines may occur however before any reduction in range is observed. Determining and modelling the factors driving population size and trends is consequently critical to predict trajectories of change and future extinction risk. We tracked during 12 years 51 populations of a cold-water fish species (brown trout Salmo trutta) living along a temperature gradient at the warmest thermal edge of its range. We developed a carrying capacity model in which maximum population size is limited by physical habitat conditions and regulated through territoriality. We first tested whether population numbers were driven by carrying capacity dynamics and then targeted on establishing (1) the temperature thresholds beyond which population numbers switch from being physical habitat- to temperature-limited; and (2) the rate at which carrying capacity declines with temperature within limiting thermal ranges. Carrying capacity along with emergent density-dependent responses explained up to 76% of spatio-temporal density variability of juveniles and adults but only 50% of young-of-the-year's. By contrast, young-of-the-year trout were highly sensitive to thermal conditions, their performance declining with temperature at a higher rate than older life stages, and disruptions being triggered at lower temperature thresholds. Results suggest that limiting temperature effects were progressively stronger with increasing anthropogenic disturbance. There was however a critical threshold, matching the incipient thermal limit for survival, beyond which realized density was always below potential numbers irrespective of disturbance intensity. We additionally found a lower threshold, matching the thermal limit for feeding, beyond which even unaltered populations declined. We predict that most of our study populations may become extinct by 2100, depicting the gloomy fate of thermally-sensitive species occurring at thermal range margins under limited potential for adaptation and dispersal.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Ayllón, D., Nicola, G.G., Elvira, B., Parra, I., Almodóvar, A. (2013):
Thermal carrying capacity for a thermally-sensitive species at the warmest edge of its range
PLOS One 8 (11), e81354