Aug 21, 2017

Phenological synchronization disrupts trophic interactions between Kodiak brown bears and salmon

William W. Deacy, Jonathan B. Armstrong, William B. Leacock, Charles T. Robbins, David D. Gustine, Eric J. Ward, Joy A. Erlenbach, Jack A. Stanford
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • States that climate change is altering the seasonal timing of biological events, effectively rescheduling the potential interactions among species
  • States that specialist consumers suffer when they fail to synchronize with their prey; however, little is known about how generalist consumers respond to phenological shifts across multiple food resources
  • Examines how a generalist consumer, the Kodiak brown bear, responded when two key foods, red elderberry and sockeye salmon, became synchronized
  • Finds that bears switched from eating salmon to elderberries, disrupting an ecological link that typically fertilizes terrestrial ecosystems and generates high mortality rates for salmon
  • Results demonstrate an underappreciated mechanism by which climate-altered phenologies can alter food webs