Abstract Understanding the effects of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) on species interactions is essential for predicting community responses to climate change. However, while effects of AGW on resource?consumer interactions at the first and second trophic level have been well studied, little is known about effects on interactions at higher trophic levels at the terminal end of food chains (e.g. in the third and fourth trophic levels). Here, we examined the effects of temperature variability by simulating heatwaves on functional responses of two species at the fourth trophic level (hyperparasitoids) that parasitize host species at the third trophic level (parasitoid cocoons). We found that host cocoons developed faster under simulated heatwave conditions, decreasing the temporal window of susceptibility of the host cocoons to parasitism by the two hyperparasitoids, and consequently parasitism declined with temperature. However, the effects of a simulated heatwave markedly differed among the two hyperparasitoid species; temperature and host quality had a much stronger effect on early reproduction in the less fecund hyperparasitoid Gelis agilis, than in the more fecund species Acrolyta nens. Our results suggest that exposure to heatwaves, that are expected to increase in frequency, will affect the ability of species at higher trophic levels to exploit transient resources whose suitability is temperature-dependent. In turn, the observed effects of AGW on the functional responses of the hyperparasitoids may disrupt trophic interactions and have profound impact on population dynamics and ecological processes. A plain language summary is available for this article.
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Data from: Differential effects of climate warming on reproduction and functional responses on insects in the fourth trophic level