Asynchronous recovery of predators and prey conditions resilience to drought in a neotropical ecosystem

Sci Rep. 2022 May 19;12(1):8392. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-12537-2.

ABSTRACT

The predicted increase in the intensity and frequency of drought events associated with global climate change will impose severe hydrological stress to freshwater ecosystems, potentially altering their structure and function. Unlike freshwater communities’ direct response to drought, their post-drought recovery capacities remain understudied despite being an essential component driving ecosystem resilience. Here we used tank bromeliad as model ecosystem to emulate droughts of different duration and then assess the recovery capacities of ecosystem structure and function. We followed macroinvertebrate predator and prey biomass to characterize the recovery dynamics of trophic structure (i.e. predator-prey biomass ratio) during the post-drought rewetting phase. We showed that drought significantly affects the trophic structure of macroinvertebrates by reducing the predator-prey biomass ratio. The asynchronous recovery of predator and prey biomass appeared as a critical driver of the post-drought recovery trajectory of trophic structure. Litter decomposition rate, which is an essential ecosystem function, remained stable after drought events, indicating the presence of compensatory effects between detritivores biomass and detritivores feeding activity. We conclude that, in a context of global change, the asynchrony in post-drought recovery of different trophic levels may impact the overall drought resilience of small freshwater ecosystems in a more complex way than expected.

PMID:35589855 | PMC:PMC9120075 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-022-12537-2

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