Patterns in macroinvertebrate assemblages at different spatial scales. Implications of hydrological connectivity in a large floodplain river
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The habitat heterogeneity generated and sustained by the connectivity of floodplain habitats, the seasonal flood pulse, and the variability of the physical structures typically found in floodplains of large rivers results in a variable space–time mosaic of water sources that results in a high biodiversity of the river-floodplain system. In order to assess the implications of natural connectivity and the heterogeneity on the patterns of macroinvertebrate assemblages at different spatial scales, monthly samplings in six different mesohabitats (lakes with different hydrological connection and secondary channels with permanently and intermittent flow) of the Paraná River floodplain were performed from April 2005 to March 2006. The mesohabitats had different granulometry and detritus composition of their bottom sediments. They also had different conductivity, transparency, and depth in relation to the different connectivity degrees. Mesohabitats differed in the abundance of macroinvertebrates of different taxonomic groups and diversity. The environmental variables were correlated to the patterns of macroinvertebrate abundance, with dominance of different species of annelids and mollusks at the patch, mesohabitats, and island scales. An alpha diversity gradient from the isolated lake (65 taxonomic units) to the secondary channels (25 taxonomic units) was obtained. The analyzed mesohabitats showed a high taxa turnover, with high values not only among the mesohabitats located in the different islands, but also among the mesohabitats in relation to different connectivity degrees. The mesohabitats showed negative co-occurrence of macroinvertebrate assemblages. The spatial heterogeneity, sustained by the connectivity degree, played a key role in structuring benthic assemblages at different scales, positively influencing the regional diversity.
KeywordsBenthos Floodplain mesohabitats Heterogeneity Metacommunity Paraná River
The authors are grateful for the financial support of the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) and the Universidad Nacional del Litoral (UNL). We acknowledge the constructive comments on the manuscript made by two anonymous reviewers.
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