Research ArticleECOLOGY

Precipitation and temperature drive continental-scale patterns in stream invertebrate production

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Science Advances  17 Apr 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 4, eaav2348
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav2348


Secondary production, the growth of new heterotrophic biomass, is a key process in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems that has been carefully measured in many flowing water ecosystems. We combine structural equation modeling with the first worldwide dataset on annual secondary production of stream invertebrate communities to reveal core pathways linking air temperature and precipitation to secondary production. In the United States, where the most extensive set of secondary production estimates and covariate data were available, we show that precipitation-mediated, low–stream flow events have a strong negative effect on secondary production. At larger scales (United States, Europe, Central America, and Pacific), we demonstrate the significance of a positive two-step pathway from air to water temperature to increasing secondary production. Our results provide insights into the potential effects of climate change on secondary production and demonstrate a modeling framework that can be applied across ecosystems.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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