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Body size distributions signal a regime shift in a lake ecosystem

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Spanbauer, TL and Allen, CR and Angeler, DG and Eason, T and Fritz, SC and Garmestani, AS and Nash, KL and Stone, JR and Stow, CA and Sundstrom, SM (2016) Body size distributions signal a regime shift in a lake ecosystem. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B (Suppl.), 283. p. 20160249. ISSN 0962-8452

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Abstract

Communities of organisms, from mammals to microorganisms, have discontinuous distributions of body size. This pattern of size structuring is a conservative trait of community organization and is a product of processes
that occur at multiple spatial and temporal scales. In this study, we assessed whether body size patterns serve as an indicator of a threshold between alternative regimes. Over the past 7000 years, the biological communities of Foy Lake (Montana, USA) have undergone a major regime shift owing to climate change. We used a palaeoecological record of diatom communities to estimate diatom sizes, and then analysed the discontinuous distribution of organism sizes over time. We used Bayesian classification and regression tree models to determine that all time intervals exhibited aggregations of sizes separated by gaps in the distribution and found a significant change in diatom body size distributions approximately 150 years before the identified ecosystem regime shift. We suggest that discontinuity analysis is a useful addition to the suite of tools for the detection of early warning signals of regime shifts.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: palaeoecology, regime shift, climate change, thresholds, body size, resilience
Journal or Publication Title: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B (Suppl.)
Page Range: p. 20160249
ISSN: 0962-8452
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.0249
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2016 03:25
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2016 03:25
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