Body-size shifts in aquatic and terrestrial urban communities

Abstract : Body size is intrinsically linked to metabolic rate and life-history traits, and is a crucial determinant of food webs and community dynamics. The increased temperatures associated with the urban-heat-island effect result in increased metabolic costs and are expected to drive shifts to smaller body sizes . Urban environments are, however, also characterized by substantial habitat fragmentation , which favours mobile species. Here, using a replicated, spatially nested sampling design across ten animal taxonomic groups, we show that urban communities generally consist of smaller species. In addition, although we show urban warming for three habitat types and associated reduced community-weighted mean body sizes for four taxa, three taxa display a shift to larger species along the urbanization gradients. Our results show that the general trend towards smaller-sized species is overruled by filtering for larger species when there is positive covariation between size and dispersal, a process that can mitigate the low connectivity of ecological resources in urban settings . We thus demonstrate that the urban-heat-island effect and urban habitat fragmentation are associated with contrasting community-level shifts in body size that critically depend on the association between body size and dispersal. Because body size determines the structure and dynamics of ecological networks, such shifts may affect urban ecosystem function.
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Thomas Merckx, Caroline Souffreau, Aurélien Kaiser, Lisa F Baardsen, Thierry Backeljau, et al.. Body-size shifts in aquatic and terrestrial urban communities. Nature, Nature Publishing Group, 2018, 558 (7708), pp.113-116. ⟨10.1038/s41586-018-0140-0⟩. ⟨hal-01807844⟩

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