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Size-dependent movement explains why bigger is better in fragmented landscapes

(2018) ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION. 8(22). p.102754-10767
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Abstract
Body size is a fundamental trait known to allometrically scale with metabolic rate and therefore a key determinant of individual development, life history, and consequently fitness. In spatially structured environments, movement is an equally important driver of fitness. Because movement is tightly coupled with body size, we expect habitat fragmentation to induce a strong selection pressure on size variation across and within species. Changes in body size distributions are then, in turn, expected to alter food web dynamics. However, no consensus has been reached on how spatial isolation and resource growth affect consumer body size distributions. Our aim was to investigate how these two factors shape the body size distribution of consumers under scenarios of size-dependent and size-independent consumer movement by applying a mechanistic, individual-based resource-consumer model. We also assessed the consequences of altered body size distributions for important ecosystem traits such as resource abundance and consumer stability. Finally, we determined those factors that explain most variation in size distributions. We demonstrate that decreasing connectivity and resource growth select for communities (or populations) consisting of larger species (or individuals) due to strong selection for the ability to move over longer distances if the movement is size-dependent. When including size-dependent movement, intermediate levels of connectivity result in increases in local size diversity. Due to this elevated functional diversity, resource uptake is maximized at the metapopulation or metacommunity level. At these intermediate levels of connectivity, size-dependent movement explains most of the observed variation in size distributions. Interestingly, local and spatial stability of consumer biomass is lowest when isolation and resource growth are high. Finally, we highlight that size-dependent movement is of vital importance for the survival of populations or communities within highly fragmented landscapes. Our results demonstrate that considering size-dependent movement is essential to understand how habitat fragmentation and resource growth shape body size distributions-and the resulting metapopulation or metacommunity dynamics-of consumers.
Keywords
allometric scaling, body size distributions, eco-evolutionary dynamics, habitat fragmentation, isolation, metabolic theory, optimal size, size-dependent movement, BODY-SIZE, HABITAT FRAGMENTATION, DISPERSAL, DENSITY, DISTRIBUTIONS, PATTERNS, TRAITS, BIODIVERSITY, STABILITY, EMERGENCE

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Hillaert, Jasmijn, Thomas Hovestadt, Martijn L. Vandegehuchte, and Dries Bonte. 2018. “Size-dependent Movement Explains Why Bigger Is Better in Fragmented Landscapes.” Ecology and Evolution 8 (22): 102754–10767.
APA
Hillaert, J., Hovestadt, T., Vandegehuchte, M. L., & Bonte, D. (2018). Size-dependent movement explains why bigger is better in fragmented landscapes. ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 8(22), 102754–10767.
Vancouver
1.
Hillaert J, Hovestadt T, Vandegehuchte ML, Bonte D. Size-dependent movement explains why bigger is better in fragmented landscapes. ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION. 2018;8(22):102754–10767.
MLA
Hillaert, Jasmijn et al. “Size-dependent Movement Explains Why Bigger Is Better in Fragmented Landscapes.” ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION 8.22 (2018): 102754–10767. Print.
@article{8580586,
  abstract     = {Body size is a fundamental trait known to allometrically scale with metabolic rate and therefore a key determinant of individual development, life history, and consequently fitness. In spatially structured environments, movement is an equally important driver of fitness. Because movement is tightly coupled with body size, we expect habitat fragmentation to induce a strong selection pressure on size variation across and within species. Changes in body size distributions are then, in turn, expected to alter food web dynamics. However, no consensus has been reached on how spatial isolation and resource growth affect consumer body size distributions. Our aim was to investigate how these two factors shape the body size distribution of consumers under scenarios of size-dependent and size-independent consumer movement by applying a mechanistic, individual-based resource-consumer model. We also assessed the consequences of altered body size distributions for important ecosystem traits such as resource abundance and consumer stability. Finally, we determined those factors that explain most variation in size distributions. We demonstrate that decreasing connectivity and resource growth select for communities (or populations) consisting of larger species (or individuals) due to strong selection for the ability to move over longer distances if the movement is size-dependent. When including size-dependent movement, intermediate levels of connectivity result in increases in local size diversity. Due to this elevated functional diversity, resource uptake is maximized at the metapopulation or metacommunity level. At these intermediate levels of connectivity, size-dependent movement explains most of the observed variation in size distributions. Interestingly, local and spatial stability of consumer biomass is lowest when isolation and resource growth are high. Finally, we highlight that size-dependent movement is of vital importance for the survival of populations or communities within highly fragmented landscapes. Our results demonstrate that considering size-dependent movement is essential to understand how habitat fragmentation and resource growth shape body size distributions-and the resulting metapopulation or metacommunity dynamics-of consumers.},
  author       = {Hillaert, Jasmijn and Hovestadt, Thomas and Vandegehuchte, Martijn L. and Bonte, Dries},
  issn         = {2045-7758},
  journal      = {ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {22},
  pages        = {102754--10767},
  title        = {Size-dependent movement explains why bigger is better in fragmented landscapes},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.4524},
  volume       = {8},
  year         = {2018},
}

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