University of Oulu

Oksanen, T., Oksanen, L., Vuorinen, K.E.M., Wolf, C., Mäkynen, A., Olofsson, J., Ripple, W.J., Virtanen, R. and Utsi, T.A. (2020), The impact of thermal seasonality on terrestrial endotherm food web dynamics: a revision of the Exploitation Ecosystem Hypothesis. Ecography, 43: 1859-1877.

The impact of thermal seasonality on terrestrial endotherm food web dynamics : a revision of the Exploitation Ecosystem Hypothesis

Saved in:
Author: Oksanen, Tarja1,2; Oksanen, Lauri1,2; Vuorinen, Katariina E. M.2,3;
Organizations: 1Dept of Arctic and Marine Biology, UiT – The Arctic Univ. of Norway, Alta, Norway
2Dept of Biology, Ecology Section, Univ. of Turku, Turku, Finland
3Dept of Natural History, NTNU Univ. Museum, Norwegian Univ. of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
4Dept of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR, USA
5Dept of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå Univ., Umeå, Sweden
6Dept of Physiological Diversity, Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
7German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle‐Jena‐Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
8Dept of Ecology and Genetics, Univ. of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.8 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-01-29


Many terrestrial endotherm food webs constitute three trophic level cascades. Others have two trophic level dynamics (food limited herbivores; plants adapted to tackle intense herbivory) or one trophic level dynamic (herbivorous endotherms absent, thus plants compete for the few places where they can survive and grow). According to the Exploitation Ecosystems Hypothesis (EEH), these contrasting dynamics are consequences of differences in primary productivity. The productivity thresholds for changing food web dynamics were assumed to be global constants. We challenged this assumption and found that several model parameters are sensitive to the contrast between persistently warm and seasonally cold climates. In persistently warm environments, three trophic level dynamics can be expected to prevail almost everywhere, save the most extreme deserts. We revised EEH accordingly and tested it by compiling direct evidence of three and two trophic level dynamics and by studying the global distribution of felids. In seasonally cold environments, we found evidence for three trophic level dynamics only in productive ecosystems, while evidence for two trophic level dynamics appeared in ecosystems with low primary productivity. In persistently warm environments, we found evidence for three trophic level dynamics in all types of ecosystems. The distribution of felids corroborated these results. The empirical evidence thus indicates that two trophic level dynamics, as defined by EEH, are restricted to seasonally cold biomes with low primary productivity, such as the artic–alpine tundra and the temperate steppe.

see all

Series: Ecography
ISSN: 0906-7590
ISSN-E: 1600-0587
ISSN-L: 0906-7590
Volume: 43
Issue: 12
Pages: 1859 - 1877
DOI: 10.1111/ecog.05076
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: The work was supported by National Science Foundation grant 1754221 to WJR, by Academy of Finland grant 259072 to RV, by Swedish Research Council 2017‐04515 to JO, and by Research Council of Norway grant 262064 to JDMS.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 259072
Detailed Information: 259072 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2020 The Authors. Ecography published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.