The pond network: can structural connectivity reflect on (amphibian) biodiversity patterns?
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Landscape connectivity is a very recurrent theme in landscape ecology as it is considered pivotal for the long term conservation of any organism’s populations. Nevertheless, this complex concept is still surrounded by uncertainty and confusion, largely due to the separation between structural and functional connectivity. Amphibians are the most threatened vertebrates around the globe, in Europe mostly due to habitat alteration, and to their particular life cycle. Pond breeding amphibians are considered to be organised in metapopulations, enhancing the importance of landscape connectivity in this group of animals. We sampled the amphibian species present in two pond groups in Central Western Spain. We applied the graph theory framework to these two pond networks in order to determine the importance of each pond for the entire network connectivity. We related the pond importance for connectivity with the species richness present in each pond. We tested if connectivity (partially) determined the presence of the amphibian species sampled using logistic regression. The results show that the structural connectivity of the pond network impacts on the amphibian species richness pattern and that the importance of the pond for the connectivity of the network is an important factor for the presence of some species. Our results, hence, attest the importance of (structural) landscape connectivity determining the pattern of amphibian (functional) colonization in discrete ponds.
KeywordsFunctional connectivity Graph theory Pond-breeding amphibians Species richness Structural connectivity
R. Ribeiro is financed by a PhD grant (SFRH/BD/31046/2006) from the Foundation for Science and Technology Portugal (FCT). N. Sillero is supported by post-doctoral positions (SFRH/BPD/26666/2006) also from FCT. Field work was financed by Consejería de Medio Ambiente de Zamora. We would like to thank Arie van der Meijden for final language editing and the constructive comments from two anonymous referees on the manuscript.
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