Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 73–83 | Cite as

Differences in dispersal- and colonization-related traits between taxa from the freshwater and the terrestrial realm



The aquatic and terrestrial realms differ in many physical properties that not only require specific physiological adaptations but also cause differences in dispersal options. We thus expect that life-history traits related to dispersal and colonization are under selection pressure because freshwater habitats are more isolated and thus more difficult to reach. We compared traits from European databases of three taxonomic groups along the passive–active dispersal gradient: plants (Plantes), snails (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Prosobranchia et Pulmonata) and hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae), all of which have both terrestrial and freshwater species (plants and snails) or early life stages (hoverflies). Aquatic taxa seem to be more successful long-distance dispersers than are terrestrial taxa. Our analysis also revealed lower numbers of seeds or eggs produced in the aquatic habitats. However, aquatic taxa often allocate resources to offspring guarding (vegetative propagules in plants, egg capsules in snails) and breeding-site selection (syrphids). Colonization of the aquatic realm is reinforced by increases in life span (plants), clonal spread (plants), shorter generation times (snails), selfing ability (marginal effect in pulmonate snails) or paedogenesis (two incidences in hoverflies, needs further studies). Probably, the variety of strategies reflects the different evolutionary backgrounds that elicit different combinations of trade-offs, but all traits also might increase invasibility of species.


Benthic macroinvertebrates Biological invasions Evolution Long-distance dispersal (LDD) Range extension 



This study was financed by the research funding program “LOEWE—Landes-Offensive zur Entwicklung Wissenschaftlich-oekonomischer Exzellenz” of Hesse’s Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts. HK in part received financial support from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO–ALW 821.01.002) while writing. OT received financial support from the DFG (TA 311/3). We also would like to thank Editor in Chief Piet Spaak (Eawag Dübendorf), Łukasz Głowacki (University Łódź), and an anonymous reviewer, for their highly valued comments on the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10452_2013_9467_MOESM1_ESM.xls (806 kb)
(XLS 806 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heike Kappes
    • 1
    • 2
  • Oliver Tackenberg
    • 3
    • 4
  • Peter Haase
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Naturalis Biodiversity CenterLeidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Ecology, Cologne BiocenterUniversity of CologneCologneGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Ecology, Evolution and DiversityGoethe-University FrankfurtFrankfurtGermany
  4. 4.Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (LOEWE BiK-F)FrankfurtGermany
  5. 5.Department of River Ecology and ConservationSenckenberg Gesellschaft für NaturforschungGelnhausenGermany

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