Daily Temperature Fluctuations Alter Interactions Between Closely Related Species of Marine Nematodes

PLoS One. 2015 Jul 6;10(7):e0131625. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131625. eCollection 2015.

Abstract

In addition to an increase in mean temperature, climate change models predict decreasing amplitudes of daily temperature fluctuations. In temperate regions, where daily and seasonal fluctuations are prominent, such decreases in daily temperature fluctuations can have a pronounced effect on the fitness of species and on the outcome of species interactions. In this study, the effect of a temperature regime with daily fluctuations versus a constant temperature on the fitness and interspecific interactions of three cryptic species of the marine nematode species complex of Litoditis marina (Pm I, Pm III and Pm IV) were investigated. In a lab experiment, different combinations of species (monospecific treatment: Pm I and Pm IV and Pm III alone; two-species treatment: Pm I + Pm IV; three-species treatment: Pm I + Pm IV + Pm III) were subjected to two different temperature regimes: one constant and one fluctuating temperature. Our results showed that fluctuating temperature had minor or no effects on the population fitness of the three species in monocultures. In contrast, interspecific interactions clearly influenced the fitness of all three species, both positively and negatively. Temperature regime did have a substantial effect on the interactions between the species. In the two-species treatment, temperature regime altered the interaction from a sort of mutualism to commensalism. In addition, the strength of the interspecific interactions changed depending on the temperature regime in the three-species treatment. This experiment confirms that interactions between the species can change depending on the abiotic environment; these results show that it is important to incorporate the effect of fluctuations on interspecific interactions to predict the effect of climate change on biodiversity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Climate Change
  • Rhabditoidea / physiology*
  • Symbiosis / physiology*
  • Temperature*

Grant support

Funding for this research was obtained from the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research (FWO) through project 3G040407, and from Ghent University through projects 011060002 and 01GA1911 W.