Theoretical Ecology

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 39–53 | Cite as

Do yearly temperature cycles reduce species richness? Insights from calanoid copepods



The metabolic theory of ecology (MTE) has explained the taxonomic richness of ectothermic species as an inverse function of habitat mean temperature. Extending this theory, we show that yearly temperature cycles reduce metabolic rates of taxa having short generation times. This reduction is due to Jensen’s inequality, which results from a nonlinear dependency of metabolic rate of organisms on temperature. It leads to a prediction that relatively lower species richness is found in habitats with larger amplitudes of yearly temperature cycles where mean temperatures and other conditions are similar. We show that metabolically driven generation time of a taxon also relates functionally to species richness, and similarly, its yearly cycles reduce richness. We test these hypotheses on marine calanoid copepods with 46,377 records of data collected by scientific cruise surveys in Mediterranean regions, across which the temperature amplitudes vary dramatically. We test both bio-energetic and phenomenological effects of temperature cycles on richness in 86 1° × 1° latitudinal and longitudinal spatial units. The models incorporated the effect of both periodic fluctuations and mean temperature explained 21.6% more variation in the data, with lower AIC, compared to models incorporated only the mean temperature. The study also gives insight into the basis of energetic-equivalence rule in MTE determining richness, which can be governed by generation time of taxon. The results of this study lead to the proposition that amplitude of yearly temperature cycles may contribute to both the longitudinal and the latitudinal differences in species richness and show how the metabolic theory can explain macro-ecological patterns arising from yearly temperature cycles.


Metabolic theory of ecology Periodic temperature fluctuation Copepods, species diversity Species richness gradient Jensen’s inequality Generation time 



The authors thank the anonymous reviewers of the manuscript greatly. HR gratefully acknowledges the research support provided by the Mathematical Biology Unit at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) of Japan. ML thanks NSERC Discovery and Accelerator grants (ML) a Killam Research Fellowship (ML) and a Canada Research Chair. The authors also thank Dr. Steven Aird at OIST for editing the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mathematical Biology UnitOkinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate UniversityOkinawaJapan
  2. 2.Centre for Mathematical Biology, Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Centre for Mathematical Biology, Department of Mathematics and Statistical SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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