Zooplankton biodiversity and community structure vary along spatiotemporal environmental gradients in restored peridunal ponds
Zooplankton assemblages in neighboring ponds can show important spatial and temporal heterogeneity. Disentangling the influence of regional versus local factors, and of deterministic versus stochastic processes has been recently highlighted in the context of the metacommunity theory. In this study, we determined patterns of temporal and spatial variation in zooplankton diversity along one hydrological year in restored ponds of different hydroperiod and age. The following hypotheses regarding the assembling of species over time were tested: i) dispersal is not limited in our study system due to its small area and high exposure to dispersal vectors; ii) community dissimilarity among ponds increases with restoration age due to an increase in environmental heterogeneity and stronger niche-based assemblages;and iii) similarity increases with decreasing hydroperiod because hydroperiod is a strong selective force filtering out organisms with long life cycles. Our results confirmed dispersal as a homogenizing force and local factors as gaining importance with time of restoration. However, short hydroperiod ponds were highly dissimilar, maybe due to the environmental differences among these ponds, or to high stochasticity followed by priority effects under a weak selection pressure. By adding a temporal dimension to the study of zooplankton structuring, we could identify the first months after flooding as being crucial for species richness, especially in short hydroperiod ponds; and we detected differences in seasonal species richness related to hydroperiod and pond age.
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Copyright (c) 2015 Maria Anton-Pardo, Xavier Armengol, Raquel Ortells
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