Environmental filtering and community delineation in the streambed ecotone

Ignacio Peralta-Maraver, Jason Galloway, Malte Posselt, Shai Arnon, Julia Reiss, Joerg Lewandowski, Anne Robertson

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A current controversy in ecology is whether biological communities are discrete biological entities or simply study units created for convenience; a debate that becomes even more heated when delimiting communities along ecotones. Here, we report an interdisciplinary study designed to address the interplay between environmental drivers and community ecology in a typical ecotone ecosystem: the streambed. Environmental filtering at a micro-scale determined how diversity, productivity and composition of the whole streambed assemblage varied with depth and with the direction of vertical water exchange. Biomass and production decreased with increasing depth, and were lower under upwelling than downwelling conditions. However, the rate at which biomass and production decreased with increasing depth differed significantly for different taxonomic groups. Using quantitative biocenosis analysis, we also showed that benthic and hyporheic zone assemblages (assemblages in close juxtaposition) could be clearly distinguished as discrete communities with individual integrity. Vertical hydrodynamic conditions also influenced the demarcation between both communities; the benthic community reached greater depths in downwelling than in upwelling zones.

© 2018, The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Original languageEnglish
Article number15871 (2018)
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2018

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