Biology 2012 – Fribourg, 8-10 February

My first poster! Title:

Some like it hot… Others don’t. Population and community effects of temperature and habitat size in protist microcosms.

Authors: Marco Plebani, Owen Petchey, Dennis Hansen

“Temperature affects individual metabolic rate and numerous other individual characteristics, such as growth, feeding and mortality. Changes in these characteristics can impact interspecific interactions, population dynamics, and community structure. Each of these ecological properties is also affected by habitat size, yet there is no or little information about the joint effects of temperature and habitat size. We performed a factorial microbial microcosm experiment to assess the effect of temperature (8 to 29°C in 12 steps) and habitat size (small and larger) on population dynamics of monocultures and species in competition. Two ciliate species were used: Paramecium caudatum and Colpidium striatum, both bacterivores. Higher temperatures caused higher carrying capacity for Paramecium, whereas Colpidium carrying capacity was constant until a threshold, beyond which it declined precipitously. Interestingly, the threshold temperature depended on habitat size.

The outcome of competition was reversed along the temperature gradient, with no clear effect of, or interaction with, habitat size. These preliminary results underpin the strong role of temperature on ecological processes. We plan more mechanistic analyses of the dataset to disentangle the mechanisms behind temperature and habitat size effects, and to understand the interplay between temperature, habitat size, and the strength of interspecific interactions in ecological communities.”

It was also very nice to attend the talk held by Sarah Gray (http://life.bio.sunysb.edu/~sgray/index.html): she is addressing similar questions as I am, using a sort of field-microcosm hybrid approach. How temperature, location and microcommunity structure affect the functioning of phytotelmata* ecosystems? From the title of her talk, “Temperature is more important than local adaptation and trophic structure for ecosystem functioning”.

*(yep, I did not know what phytotelmata were either. Wikipedia helped me.)