Long term population trends in El Yunque do not provide evidence for declines with increasing temperature or the collapse of food webs

Year of Publication: 2019
Authors: Willig, MR, Woolbright, L, Presley, SJ, Schowalter, TD, Waide, RB, T. Scalley, H, Zimmerman, JK, González, G, Lugo, AE

Abstract: We describe significant concerns related to data selection and transformation, or to the interpretation of trends related to time or temperature for walkingsticks, canopy arthropods, frogs, and birds as published by Lister and Garcia (2018; hereafter L&G). We cannot confidently identify the climatic or abundance data from El Verde that were used by L&G. In some cases, data manipulations were not described explicitly or justifiable. In other cases, the rationale for selection of temporal data for inclusion or exclusion were not apparent. Moreover, errors may have been introduced into the data that compromise its interpretation. Most importantly, L&G failed to consider the effects of disturbance and secondary succession on the abundance of animals in the Luquillo Experimental Forest of Puerto Rico. Short‐term responses to cyclonic disturbances, and trajectories of abiotic and biotic characteristics during post‐hurricane succession, play a dominant role in modulating variation in abundance of animals in the Luquillo Experimental Forest (see Walker et al. 1991, 1996; Brokaw et al. 2012). Thus, we contend that the role of warming or the suggestion of food web collapse by L&G are oversimplified or unfounded for this tropical forest ecosystem.