In the context of climate warming, the dominance of allelopathic algae that cause ecosystem disturbances is an important topic. Although the hypothesis that an increase in temperature will be favorable to the dominance of allelopathic algae has been increasingly supported by many studies, it is still unclear how other factors can affect the influence of temperature. In this study, the effects of copper exposure and initial algal abundance on the competition between Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata (non-allelopathic alga) and Chlorella vulgaris (allelopathic alga) were investigated during temperature changes. The results showed that increased temperatures enhanced the competitive advantage of C. vulgaris only in the absence of copper exposure. Our data confirmed that copper exposure along with increased temperature (20–30 °C) may change the competitive advantage of C. vulgaris from favorable to unfavorable. The initial algal abundance was found to affect competition outcome by controlling copper toxicity. This study suggests that pollutants and initial abundance can alter the effects of increased temperature on the allelopathic interaction. Given the temporal dynamics of algal abundance and the pollutants in natural ecosystems, these findings should be considered in the prediction of temperature influence on an algal community.
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