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Does dispersal ability affect the relative importance of environmental control and spatial structuring of littoral macroinvertebrate communities?

Abstract

Both spatial processes and environmental control may structure metacommunities, but their relative importance may be contingent on the dispersal ability of organisms. I examined the roles of spatial and environmental factors for the structuring of littoral macroinvertebrate communities across a set of lakes in a boreal drainage basin. I hypothesized that dispersal ability would affect the relative importance of spatial processes and environmental control, and thus the biological data were divided into four groups of species differing in dispersal ability. In general, the group of the strongest aerial dispersers showed greatest relative pure environmental control and least pure spatial structuring of community structure and species richness, while spatial processes seemed to be more important for the other three dispersal ability groups. However, these results were contingent on the indirect measure of spatial processes, with the spatial variables and connectivity variables providing slightly different insights into the spatial processes and environmental control of metacommunity structuring. It appears, however, that dispersal ability has effects on the spatial processes and environmental control important in metacommunity organization, with strong dispersers being more under environmental control and less affected by spatial processes compared to weak dispersers.

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Acknowledgments

I thank Pekka Majuri and Kimmo Sivonen for conducting the field work, Juho Kotanen for providing the GIS variables, and Lauri Paasivirta for identifying midge larvae. Timo Muotka, Janne Soininen, two anonymous reviewers and the editors provided excellent comments on the manuscript. Water chemistry analyses and other logistical support were provided by Oulanka Research Station. This study was supported by grants from the Academy of Finland (to J. Heino and T. Muotka).

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Correspondence to Jani Heino.

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Communicated by Carla Caceres.

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Heino, J. Does dispersal ability affect the relative importance of environmental control and spatial structuring of littoral macroinvertebrate communities?. Oecologia 171, 971–980 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-012-2451-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-012-2451-4

Keywords

  • Community structure
  • Macroinvertebrates
  • Lakes