Scaling patterns of plankton diversity: a study of ciliates in a tropical coastal lagoon
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- Bulit, C., Díaz-Ávalos, C. & Montagnes, D.J.S. Hydrobiologia (2009) 624: 29. doi:10.1007/s10750-008-9664-x
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Although spatial and temporal variation in plankton diversity is regularly investigated in surveys, experiments, and models, there is a lack of methods for predicting spatial patchiness of plankton diversity. We develop and apply a suite of geostatistical and multiple-regression analysis tools to assess ciliate diversity in a tropical coastal lagoon; these methods can predict spatial and temporal patterns of diversity, provide error estimates associated with these predictions, and assess which environmental factors may drive diversity patchiness. Geostatistical analysis was applied to H′ (Shannon diversity index) from 25 to 35 data collected from a sampling grid (40 × 40 m), and 10 dispersed lagoonal sites, in the dry and rainy seasons, on numerous occasions. Conditional simulation and kriging were used to predict diversity at the lagoonal and small scales, respectively. The relationship between diversity (H′) and the environment was examined by multiple-regression analysis. Thirty-six ciliate morphospecies occurred; H′ ranged from 0 to 1.9 and was patchy. Multiple regression indicated ciliate diversity changed seasonally, increasing when the sand bar was open and the lagoon was connected with the sea. Geostatistical analysis extended the recognition that seasonal changes alter diversity: when the rainy season produced a variable environment, relatively small scale patches and diversity gradients occurred; in the dry season, when the lagoon was physically uniform, larger and fewer diversity patches occurred; at the sublagoonal scale, diversity patches were similarly structured in the two seasons. Results indicate environmental variability and immigration can be the main drivers behind ciliate diversity in the lagoon. We recommend the patterns these data reveal and methods we employ be considered when further studies are continued to examine diversity on local and larger scales.