Predicting population change under thermal stress.

Project title

Predicting population change under thermal stress.


Understanding and predicting the way in which species interactions may change under the uncertain climatic future is imperative if the management of important resources is to be successful. Consumer – resource interactions underlie population dynamics and distribution, yet there is little known about how these interactions will respond to increasing temperature.

Temperature increase can facilitate the movement and settlement of alien species into new ranges. Introduced species can often be ecologically damaging and unpredictable due to novel predator-prey interactions. Comparative functional response analysis has been used to gain insight into resource dependent behaviour and population dynamics.

This study is an assessment of the way in which predicted temperature changes can affect resource consumption in three predators.  I postulate a new metric wherein “Relative Impact Potential” of a consumer can be predicted under a set of environmental variables.

This metric takes into account the per capita response, numerical response, and the potential change in predator and prey populations under the proposed conditions. I suggest the use of this metric as a rapid way of assessing and predicting potential threats to sustainability of fisheries under predicted climatic change.

Overall, this thesis identifies species and scenarios wherein sustainability of important fisheries could be threatened and provides a metric with which to assess potential threats and ecological impact in a way that is standardized and easily accessible by managers and stakeholders alike.

Publications and outputs

  • Published in Springer 30th July 2017 – Effects of acute and chronic temperature changes on the functional responses of the dogfish Scyliorhinus canicula (Linnaeus, 1758) towards amphipod prey Echinogammarus marinus (Leach, 1815)
  • Published in Springer 1st July 2017 – Predicting predatory impact of juvenile invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) on a crustacean prey using functional response analysis: effects of temperature, habitat complexity and light regimes.
  • Published in the Journal of Fish Biology 15th November 2017