A comparative analysis reveals weak relationships between ecological factors and beta diversity of stream insect metacommunities at two spatial levels

Jani Heino, Adriano Melo, Luis Bini, Florian Altermatt, Salman Al-Shami, David Angeler, NURIA Bonada, Cecilia Brand, Marcos Callisto, Karl Cottenie, Olivier Dangles, David Dudgeon, Andrea Encalada, Emma Gothe, Mira Gronroos, Neusa Hamada, Dean Jacobsen, Victor Landeiro, Raphael Ligeiro, Renato Martins & 11 others Mar¿a Miserendino, Che Salmah Md Rawi, Marciel Rodrigues, Fabio de Oliveira Roque, Leonard Sandin, Denes Schmera, Luciano Sgarbi, John Simaika, Tadeu Siqueira, Ross THOMPSON, Colin Townsend

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    The hypotheses that beta diversity should increase with decreasing latitude and increase with spatial extent of a region have rarely been tested based on a comparative analysis of multiple datasets, and no such study has focused on stream insects. We first assessed how well variability in beta diversity of stream insect metacommunities is predicted by insect group, latitude, spatial extent, altitudinal range, and dataset properties across multiple drainage basins throughout the world. Second, we assessed the relative roles of environmental and spatial factors in driving variation in assemblage composition within each drainage basin. Our analyses were based on a dataset of 95 stream insect metacommunities from 31 drainage basins distributed around the world. We used dissimilarity-based indices to quantify beta diversity for each metacommunity and, subsequently, regressed beta diversity on insect group, latitude, spatial extent, altitudinal range, and dataset properties (e.g., number of sites and percentage of presences). Within each metacommunity, we used a combination of spatial eigenfunction analyses and partial redundancy analysis to partition variation in assemblage structure into environmental, shared, spatial, and unexplained fractions. We found that dataset properties were more important predictors of beta diversity than ecological and geographical factors across multiple drainage basins. In the within-basin analyses, environmental and spatial variables were generally poor predictors of variation in assemblage composition. Our results revealed deviation from general biodiversity patterns because beta diversity did not show the expected decreasing trend with latitude. Our results also call for reconsideration of just how predictable stream assemblages are along ecological gradients, with implications for environmental assessment and conservation decisions. Our findings may also be applicable to other dynamic systems where predictability is low. Beta diversity should vary along major ecological gradients. We used data for 95 stream insect metacommunities to examine if beta diversity showed general patterns over the world. We did not find clear patterns along latitudinal, altitudinal or environmental gradients, suggesting that stochasticity typical of frequently-disturbed stream ecosystems may hinder finding clear patterns in stream insect beta diversity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1235-1248
    Number of pages14
    JournalEcology and Evolution
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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