Perspectives on the use of lakes and ponds as model systems for macroecological research

  • Joaquín Hortal | Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales; Universidade de Lisboa, Spain.
  • João C. Nabout Universidade Estadual de Goiás, Brazil.
  • Joaquín Calatayud Universidad de Alcalá, Spain.
  • Fernanda M. Carneiro Universidade Estadual de Goiás, Brazil.
  • André Padial Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil.
  • Ana M. C. Santos Universidade de Lisboa; Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Portugal.
  • Tadeu Siqueira Universidade Estadual Paulista, Brazil.
  • Folmer Bokma Umeå University, Sweden.
  • L. Mauricio Bini Universidade Federal de Goiás, Brazil.
  • Marc Ventura Spanish Research Council; Universitat de Barcelona, Spain.


Macroecology studies large-scale patterns aiming to identify the effects of general ecological processes. Although lakes (and ponds) are particularly suited for macroecological research due to their discrete nature and non geographically-structured variability, the development of this discipline in lentic habitats is comparatively much smaller than for terrestrial environments. This is despite the interest of limnologists for large-scale phenomena, which results in the high level of development of some disciplines such as predictive limnology. Here we discuss how current state-of-the-art in macroecology may benefit from research in lentic habitats at five topics. First, by including an island biogeography analytical framework to incorporate the effects of lake origin and history on lentic biodiversity. Second, by studying local and regional effects on the latitudinal gradients of species richness. Third, by considering lakes and ponds altogether for the study of beta diversity and metacommunity structure, which is already common ground in limnological research. Fourth, by relating species traits with ecosystem structure and functioning; here we consider in particular the potential effects of body size-determined dispersal and competitive exclusion processes on lake-wide trophic organization. And fifth, by incorporating current research in functional (i.e. trait) and phylogenetic diversity to the study of community structure. We finally conclude that lentic habitats can be particularly important for the development of the most functional aspects of macroecology, due to the relative ease of studying the different biotic and abiotic components of the system separately, compared to most terrestrial systems. This can allow teasing apart many of the confounding factors that are characteristic of macroecological research, thus helping the development of future theoretical syntheses.



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Author Biographies

Joaquín Hortal, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales; Universidade de Lisboa

Departamento de Biogeografía y Cambio Global;
Centro de Biologia Ambiental and Portuguese Platform for Enhancing Ecological Research & Sustainability, Faculdade de Ciência 

João C. Nabout, Universidade Estadual de Goiás
Unidade de Ciências Exatas e Tecnológicas
Joaquín Calatayud, Universidad de Alcalá
Departamento de Ciencias de la Vida
Fernanda M. Carneiro, Universidade Estadual de Goiás
Núcleo de Educação Ambiental e Pesquisa em Biologia – NEAP-Bio
André Padial, Universidade Federal do Paraná
Departamento de Botânica
Ana M. C. Santos, Universidade de Lisboa; Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales
Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Faculdade de Ciências;
Departamento de Biogeografía y Cambio Global
Tadeu Siqueira, Universidade Estadual Paulista
Departmento de Ecologia
Folmer Bokma, Umeå University
IceLab and Department of Ecology & Environmental Science
L. Mauricio Bini, Universidade Federal de Goiás
Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas
Marc Ventura, Spanish Research Council; Universitat de Barcelona
Biodiversity and Biogeodynamics Group, Center for Advanced Studies of Blanes;
Institut de Recerca de l’Aigua
Supporting Agencies
Spanish DGCyT, Brazilian CNPq, Brazilian FAPEG, Brazilian CAPES, Portuguese FCT, Spanish Ministry of Education
biodiversity gradients, body size, dispersal, ecosystem functioning, ecosystem structure, metacommunity
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How to Cite
Hortal J, Nabout JC, Calatayud J, Carneiro FM, Padial A, Santos AMC, Siqueira T, Bokma F, Bini LM, Ventura M. Perspectives on the use of lakes and ponds as model systems for macroecological research. J Limnol [Internet]. 2014Apr.8 [cited 2021May13];73(s1). Available from: