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Grasslands, invertebrates and precipitation: a review of the effects of climate change

By Kirk Lee Barnett and Sarah Louise Facey


Invertebrates are the main components of faunal diversity in grasslands, playing substantial roles in ecosystem processes including nutrient cycling and pollination. Grassland invertebrate communities are heavily dependent on the plant diversity and production within a given system. Climate change models predict alterations in precipitation patterns, both in terms of the amount of total inputs and the frequency, seasonality and intensity with which these inputs occur, which will impact grassland productivity. Given the ecological, economic and biodiversity value of grasslands, and their importance globally as areas of carbon storage and agricultural development, it is in our interest to understand how predicted alterations in precipitation patterns will affect grasslands and the invertebrate communities they contain. Here we review the findings from manipulative and observational studies which have examined invertebrate responses to altered rainfall, with a particular focus on large-scale field experiments employing precipitation manipulations. Given the tight associations between invertebrate communities and their underlying plant communities, invertebrate responses to altered precipitation generally mirror those of the plants in the system. However, there is evidence that species responses to future precipitation changes will be idiosyncratic and context dependent across trophic levels, challenging our ability to make reliable predictions about how grassland communities will respond to future climatic changes, without further investigation. Thus, moving forward, we recommend increased consideration of invertebrate communities in current and future rainfall manipulation platforms, as well as the adoption of new technologies to aid such studies

Topics: Climate Change, Insects, drought, irrigation, rainfall, Invertebrate communities, Plant culture, SB1-1110
Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
Year: 2016
DOI identifier: 10.3389/fpls.2016.01196/full
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