Are aquatic assemblages from small water bodies more stochastic in dryer climates? An analysis of ostracod spring metacommunities
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Metacommunity ecology describes community organisation considering both environmental and spatial processes. We tested the relative importance of environmental and spatial factors on spring ostracod assemblages from four European regions characterised by different climatic conditions (e.g. aridity). Pure and shared effects of environment and space were calculated using redundancy analysis and variation partitioning. Both environmental and spatial variables significantly explain assemblage variation, although with different relevance among areas. The amount of variation explained by environmental factors decreased with increasing climate aridity. The reduced size of spring habitats makes them prone to drying events, which are more frequent in dryer climates. Frequent disturbances may lead to local extinctions followed by colonisations from nearby sites, in a source–sink dynamics. Early recolonisation leads to random assemblages and reduces the match between organisms and environmental conditions. As a consequence, a low amount of community variation can be explained by environmental variables. Conversely, the settled communities from wetter climates best fit the ecological characteristics of sites, and deterministic processes, such as species sorting, dominate the assemblages. In conclusion, in the studied regions, ostracod communities from small water bodies of dryer climates seem to be mainly driven by stochastic dynamics when compared to more continental areas.
KeywordsMetacommunity analysis Spring Ostracod Climate Assembly rules
Datasets originating from the following Projects contributed data to the present study: CRENODAT (funded by the Autonomous Province of Trento) and EBERs (funded by the Emilia Romagna Region). We would like to acknowledge the previous contribution of A. Baltanás and G. Tapia to the early versions of the Pyrenean and Valencian datasets. GR acknowledges the support of the LifeWatch network, and VP of the Interregional Association for Participation and Study in Agribusiness, Landscape and Environment Management. Finally, we would like to thank two anonymous reviewers and the Associate Editor S. M. Thomaz for their suggestions which really improved the manuscript.
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