Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 163–176 | Cite as

Shallow lake sediments provide evidence for metapopulation dynamics: a pilot study

  • Beth Okamura
  • Karen Ayres
  • Jorge Salgado
  • Thomas A. Davidson
  • Rosalind F. Shaw
  • Thomas W. Stephens
  • Daniel Hoare
  • Carl D. Sayer


The aim of this pilot study is to test the hypotheses that sediment cores can provide evidence for metapopulation dynamics and that these can be linked with site characteristics. We focus on temporal patterns of incidence and abundance of overwintering stages (statoblasts) produced by the freshwater bryozoan Cristatella mucedo, an organism characterised by a metapopulation ecology, in sediment cores retrieved from 18 UK lakes. Runs and goodness-of-fit tests provided evidence for population instability, periods of low abundance and absence, and of asynchrony—all signatures of metapopulation dynamics. Further hypothesis testing indicated that extinction risk is greater in more isolated sites and in sites of smaller size. Absence of statoblasts from the top sections of spatially separated, replicate cores provided independent evidence for extinction in one site. Our study demonstrates how the abundances of sedimentary-bound propagules may be analysed initially for metapopulation dynamics and subsequently how this may lead to working hypotheses regarding the drivers of such dynamics. The sediment archive represents a unique historical record whose potential for characterising metapopulation dynamics has previously been untapped but is broadly relevant for understanding the population biology of freshwater organisms.


Statoblasts Cristatella mucedo Sediment archive Runs tests Extinction Palaeolimnology 



We thank K. Benyon, K. Evans, K. Kari, V. Rimmer, C. Shutts and Y. Zhao for data collection and J. Freeland, P. Spaak and anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript. This work was partly funded by a Natural Environment Research Council Fellowship (GT5/98/22/CB) awarded to C. Sayer, by consultancy projects undertaken for the Broads Authority and the Countryside Council for Wales as administered by ENSIS Ltd. and by undergraduate project research funds provided by the University of Reading to B. Okamura.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beth Okamura
    • 1
  • Karen Ayres
    • 2
  • Jorge Salgado
    • 3
  • Thomas A. Davidson
    • 4
  • Rosalind F. Shaw
    • 5
  • Thomas W. Stephens
    • 6
  • Daniel Hoare
    • 7
  • Carl D. Sayer
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Life SciencesNatural History MuseumLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Mathematics and Statistics, School of Mathematical and Physical SciencesUniversity of ReadingReadingUK
  3. 3.Department of Geography, Environmental Change Research CentreUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Department of BioscienceAarhus UniversitySilkeborgDenmark
  5. 5.Environment and Sustainability InstituteUniversity of Exeter, Tremough CampusPenryn, CornwallUK
  6. 6.School of EnvironmentThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  7. 7.Broads AuthorityNorwich, NorfolkUK

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