Genetic and plastic rewiring of food webs under climate change.

Journal Article (Review;Journal Article)

Climate change is altering ecological and evolutionary processes across biological scales. These simultaneous effects of climate change pose a major challenge for predicting the future state of populations, communities and ecosystems. This challenge is further exacerbated by the current lack of integration of research focused on these different scales. We propose that integrating the fields of quantitative genetics and food web ecology will reveal new insights on how climate change may reorganize biodiversity across levels of organization. This is because quantitative genetics links the genotypes of individuals to population-level phenotypic variation due to genetic (G), environmental (E) and gene-by-environment (G × E) factors. Food web ecology, on the other hand, links population-level phenotypes to the structure and dynamics of communities and ecosystems. We synthesize data and theory across these fields and find evidence that genetic (G) and plastic (E and G × E) phenotypic variation within populations will change in magnitude under new climates in predictable ways. We then show how changes in these sources of phenotypic variation can rewire food webs by altering the number and strength of species interactions, with consequences for ecosystem resilience. We also find evidence suggesting there are predictable asymmetries in genetic and plastic trait variation across trophic levels, which set the pace for phenotypic change and food web responses to climate change. Advances in genomics now make it possible to partition G, E and G × E phenotypic variation in natural populations, allowing tests of the hypotheses we propose. By synthesizing advances in quantitative genetics and food web ecology, we provide testable predictions for how the structure and dynamics of biodiversity will respond to climate change.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Barbour, MA; Gibert, JP

Published Date

  • August 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 90 / 8

Start / End Page

  • 1814 - 1830

PubMed ID

  • 34028791

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8453762

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1365-2656

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0021-8790

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/1365-2656.13541


  • eng