DOI: 10.1101/470591Nov 15, 2018Paper

Nonlinear Effects of Intraspecific Competition Alter Landscape-Wide Upscaling of Ecosystem Function

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Chelsea J. LittleFlorian Altermatt


A major focus of ecology is to understand and predict ecosystem function across scales. Many ecosystem functions are only measured at local scales, while their effects occur at a landscape level. Here, we investigate how landscape-scale predictions of ecosystem function depend on intraspecific competition, a fine-scale process, by manipulating intraspecific density of shredding macroinvertebrates and examining effects on leaf litter decomposition, a key function in freshwater ecosystems. Across two species, we found that leaf processing rates declined with increasing density following a negative exponential function, likely due to interference competition. To demonstrate consequences of this nonlinearity, we upscaled estimates of leaf litter processing from shredder abundance surveys in 10 replicated headwater streams. In accordance with Jensen’s inequality, applying density-dependent consumption rates reduced estimates of catchment-scale leaf consumption up to 60-fold versus using density-independent rates. Density-dependent consumption estimates aligned closely with metabolic requirements in catchments with large, but not small, shredder populations. Importantly, shredder abundance was not limited by leaf litter availability ...Continue Reading

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