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Climate change jeopardizes the persistence of freshwater zooplankton by reducing both habitat suitability and demographic resilience

Pinceel, Tom, Buschke, Falko, Weckx, Margo, Brendonck, Luc, Vanschoenwinkel, Bram
BMC ecology 2018 v.18 no.1 pp. 2
Crustacea, animals, annuals, climate change, dormancy, eggs, extinction, freshwater, growing season, habitats, laboratory experimentation, life history, models, population dynamics, rain, risk, seeds, survival rate, temperature, zooplankton
BACKGROUND: Higher temperatures and increased environmental variability under climate change could jeopardize the persistence of species. Organisms that rely on short windows of rainfall to complete their life-cycles, like desert annual plants or temporary pool animals, may be particularly at risk. Although some could tolerate environmental changes by building-up banks of propagules (seeds or eggs) that buffer against catastrophes, climate change will threaten this resilience mechanism if higher temperatures reduce propagule survival. Using a crustacean model species from temporary waters, we quantified experimentally the survival and dormancy of propagules under anticipated climate change and used these demographic parameters to simulate long term population dynamics. RESULTS: By exposing propagules to present-day and projected daily temperature cycles in an 8 month laboratory experiment, we showed how increased temperatures reduce survival rates in the propagule bank. Integrating these reduced survival rates into population models demonstrated the inability of the bank to maintain populations; thereby exacerbating extinction risk caused by shortened growing seasons. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, our study demonstrates that climate change could threaten the persistence of populations by both reducing habitat suitability and eroding life-history strategies that support demographic resilience.