The metabolic theory of ecology (MTE) is an intriguing but controversial theory that tries to explain ecological patterns at all scales on the basis of first principles. Temperature plays a pivotal role in this theory. According to MTE, the Arrhenius relationship that describes the effect of temperature on biochemical reactions extends to a 'universal temperature dependence' that encompasses all kinds of processes and scales up to the cellular, the organismal, and the community level. In this study we test the prediction that community growth rate is temperature dependent in an Arrhenius-like way. First, we performed a literature review of the scanty data on the temperature dependence of the rates of metabolism, photosynthesis and growth of communities. In contrast to the predictions of MTE, the community activation energies did not cluster around 0.32 eV, the activation energy of photosynthesis and primary production or around 0.65 eV, the activation energy of metabolism. However, in none of the published studies the conditions were sufficiently controlled to allow firm conclusions. We therefore also performed replicated and controlled experiments using natural assemblages of marine plankton. As predicted by MTE, the maximal growth rates of community biomass increased linearly in an Arrhenius plot, with a slope close to 0.32 eV. However, a diversity of other models for the temperature dependence of community growth rates fit our data equally well. Hence, our results are at best a weak confirmation of MTE.
|Nummer van het tijdschrift||7|
|Status||Published - jul.-2009|