Climate warming can destabilize interactions between competitors as smaller organisms gain advantages in warmer environments. Whether and how warming-induced effects on competitive interactions are modified by predation remains unknown. We hypothesized that predation will offset the competitive advantage of smaller prey species in warmer environments because of their greater vulnerability to predation. To test this, we assembled a litter arthropod community with two Collembola species (Folsomia candida and Proisotoma minuta) of different body sizes across a temperature gradient (three thermal environments) and in the presence and absence of predatory mites. Predatory mites reduced Collembola coexistence with increasing temperatures. Contradicting our hypothesis, the larger prey species always outperformed the smaller prey species in warmer environments with predators. Larger prey probably benefited as they expressed a greater trait (body length) plasticity to warming. Warming can thus magnify predation effects and reduce the probability of prey coexistence.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3716296.
- Received November 20, 2016.
- Accepted March 1, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.