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Hydrological and environmental variables outperform spatial factors in structuring species, trait composition and beta diversity of pelagic algae

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  • Naicheng Wu, Kiel University
  • ,
  • Yueming Qu, Universität Kiel, Germany
  • Björn Guse, CAU Kiel, Germany
  • Kristė Makarevičiūtė, CAU Kiel University, Germany
  • Szewing To, CAU Kiel University, Germany
  • Tenna Riis
  • Nicola Fohrer, Universität Kiel, Germany

There has been increasing interest in algae-based bioassessment, particularly, trait-based approaches are increasingly suggested. However, the main drivers, especially the contribution of hydrological variables, of species composition, trait composition, and beta diversity of algae communities are less studied. To link species and trait composition to multiple factors (i.e., hydrological variables, local environmental variables, and spatial factors) that potentially control species occurrence/abundance and to determine their relative roles in shaping species composition, trait composition, and beta diversities of pelagic algae communities, samples were collected from a German lowland catchment, where a well-proven ecohydrological modeling enabled to predict long-term discharges at each sampling site. Both trait and species composition showed significant correlations with hydrological, environmental, and spatial variables, and variation partitioning revealed that the hydrological and local environmental variables outperformed spatial variables. A higher variation of trait composition (57.0%) than species composition (37.5%) could be explained by abiotic factors. Mantel tests showed that both species and trait-based beta diversities were mostly related to hydrological and environmental heterogeneity with hydrological contributing more than environmental variables, while purely spatial impact was less important. Our findings revealed the relative importance of hydrological variables in shaping pelagic algae community and their spatial patterns of beta diversities, emphasizing the need to include hydrological variables in long-term biomonitoring campaigns and biodiversity conservation or restoration. A key implication for biodiversity conservation was that maintaining the instream flow regime and keeping various habitats among rivers are of vital importance. However, further investigations at multispatial and temporal scales are greatly needed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEcology and Evolution
Pages (from-to)2947–2961
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

    Research areas

  • beta diversity, ecohydrological modeling, functional traits, lowland river, multiple stressors, pelagic algae, species composition

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