Common and Rare Taxa of Planktonic Ciliates: Influence of Flood Events and Biogeographic Patterns in Neotropical Floodplains


After much discussion about the cosmopolitan nature of microbes, the great issue nowadays is to identify at which spatial extent microorganisms may display biogeographic patterns and if temporal variation is important in altering those patterns. Here, planktonic ciliates were sampled from shallow lakes of four Neotropical floodplains, distributed over a spatial extent of ca. 3000 km, during high and low water periods, along with several abiotic and biotic variables potentially affecting the ciliate community. We found that common ciliate species were more associated with environmental gradients and rare species were more related to spatial variables; however, this pattern seemed to change depending on the temporal and spatial scales considered. Environmental gradients were more important in the high waters for both common and rare species. In low waters, common species continued to be mainly driven by environmental conditions, but rare species were more associated with the spatial component, suggesting dispersal limitation likely due to differences in dispersal ability and ecological tolerance of species. We also found that common and rare species were related to different environmental variables, suggesting different ecological niches. At the largest spatial extents, rare species showed clear biogeographic patterns.

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BTS is grateful for the funding and doctoral scholarship provided by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES). We would also like to thank the Brazilian National Council of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq) for providing doctoral (BRM, FMLT) and post-doctoral scholarships (AFC, JDD), and research productivity scholarships and grants (FALT, LMB and LFMV). LFMV work was also supported by the Cesumar Institute of Science, Technology and Innovation (ICETI). We would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers for fruitful comments that helped improve the manuscript.

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Segovia, B.T., Dias, J.D., Cabral, A.F. et al. Common and Rare Taxa of Planktonic Ciliates: Influence of Flood Events and Biogeographic Patterns in Neotropical Floodplains. Microb Ecol 74, 522–533 (2017).

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  • Biogeography
  • Metacommunity
  • Species sorting
  • Dispersal limitation
  • Microbial ecology