The balance of evidence strongly indicates that the ecological repercussions of climatic changes are already apparent in the dynamics of animal and plant populations throughout terrestrial, marine, and aquatic ecosystems. However, while considerable progress has been made in quantifying effects of such climate change on spatiotemporal shifts in distribution, density, and phenology, subtle effects such as intra-annual variation in behavior have been ignored. Yet individual-based assessments of short-term dynamics of species interactions may be critical to improving our understanding of the implications of climate change for population and community dynamics. Using comprehensive, spatially replicated data on seasonal plant growth dynamics and seasonal distribution of muskoxen over a seven-year period, we show that interannual variations in the North Atlantic Oscillation affect the seasonal spatial dynamics of plant growth and, thereby, the seasonal spatial dynamics and social organization of muskoxen. Our results demonstrate a clear role of large-scale climate in the short-term trophic dynamics of this simple, arctic community.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics