Collapse and rescue of evolutionary food webs under global warming
Global warming is severely impacting ecosystems and threatening ecosystem services and human well-being. While some species face extinction risk, several studies have demonstrated the possibility that fast evolution may allow species adaptation and survival despite environmental change. We aim to assess how such evolutionary rescue dynamics extend to multitrophic communities and whether evolution systematically preserve biodiversity under global warming. Using a simplified consumer-resource model, we analyze mathematically how evolution of body mass and of foraging strategies affect coexistence. We then extend our analysis to diverse, multi-trophic networks of co-evolving morphs. Our simulations predict that the long-term diversity loss triggered by warming is considerably higher in scenarios where evolution is slowed down or switched off completely, indicating that eco-evolutionary feedbacks indeed help to preserve biodiversity. Evolving webs however experience vast disruptions in their structure and functioning and reversing warming may not be sufficient to restore previous structures. Our findings thus highlight how the interaction between evolutionary rescue and changes in trophic structures affects our understanding of ecosystem responses under warming with important implications for conservation and management policies.