, Volume 750, Issue 1, pp 103–123 | Cite as

How do freshwater organisms cross the “dry ocean”? A review on passive dispersal and colonization processes with a special focus on temporary ponds

  • Giulia Incagnone
  • Federico Marrone
  • Rossella Barone
  • Lavinia Robba
  • Luigi Naselli-FloresEmail author


Lakes and ponds are scattered on Earth’s surface as islands in the ocean. The organisms inhabiting these ecosystems have thus developed strategies to pass the barrier represented by the surrounding land, to disperse and to colonize new environments. The evidences of a high potential for passive long-range dispersal of organisms producing resting stages inspired the idea that there were no real barriers to their actual dispersal, and that their distribution was only limited by the ecological characteristics of the available habitats. The development of genetic techniques allowed to criticize this view and revealed the existence of a more complex and diverse biological scenario governed by an assortment of historical and ecological factors. In this paper, we review the literature related to the passive dispersal of organisms producing resting stages among inland lentic ecosystems, with special emphasis to temporary ponds, which represent “isolated” ecosystems both in space and in time, and are characterized by high levels of biological diversity. The existence of a sharp decoupling between “dispersal potential” and “actual establishment rates” is stressed, thus urging a definitive overcome of the so-called “Everything is Everywhere” hypothesis in order to gain a proper understanding of the biogeography and ecology of inland water organisms.


Dispersal vectors Biogeography Dispersal-gene flow paradox Priority effect Monopolization hypothesis Cosmopolitanism paradigm 



Cristiano Liuzzi (R.N.S. “Le Cesine”, Italy) and Kay Van Damme (University of Birmingham, UK) are gratefully acknowledged for having provided some pictures. We are also grateful to three anonymous reviewers who provided valuable suggestions to an early draft of this paper. This review has been assembled with the contribution of a grant (2012-ATE-0148) from the University of Palermo.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giulia Incagnone
    • 1
  • Federico Marrone
    • 2
  • Rossella Barone
    • 1
  • Lavinia Robba
    • 1
  • Luigi Naselli-Flores
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche, Chimiche e Farmaceutiche – Sezione di Botanica ed Ecologia VegetaleUniversità di PalermoPalermoItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche, Chimiche e Farmaceutiche – Sezione di Biologia Animale ed Antropologia BiologicaUniversità di PalermoPalermoItaly

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