Different increase rate in body mass of two marten species due to climate warming potentially reinforces interspecific competition

Anna Wereszczuk*, Tim R. Hofmeester, Alexander Csanády, Tomislav Dumić, Morten Elmeros, József Lanszki, Aksel B. Madsen, Gerard Müskens, Malamati A. Papakosta, Marcin Popiołek, Margarida Santos-Reis, Iñigo Zuberogoitia, Andrzej Zalewski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Many species show spatial variation in body size, often associated with climatic patterns. Studying species with contrasting geographical patterns related to climate might help elucidate the role of different drivers. We analysed changes in the body mass of two sympatric medium-sized carnivores—pine marten (Martes martes) and stone marten (Martes foina)—across Europe over 59 years. The body mass of pine marten increased with decreasing latitude, whereas stone marten body mass varied in a more complex pattern across its geographic range. Over time, the average body mass of pine martens increased by 255 g (24%), while stone marten by 86 g (6%). The greatest increase of body mass along both martens’ geographic range was observed in central and southern Europe, where both species occur in sympatry. The body mass increase slowed down over time, especially in allopatric regions. The average pine/stone marten body mass ratio increased from 0.87 in 1960 to 0.99 in 2019, potentially strengthening the competition between them. Thus, a differential response in body size to several drivers over time might have led to an adaptive advantage for pine martens. This highlights the importance of considering different responses among interacting species when studying animal adaptation to climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24164
JournalScientific Reports
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2021

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