Aquatic Sciences

, 81:49 | Cite as

The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the main source of variation for the gamma diversity of plankton communities in subtropical shallow lakes

  • Alfonso PinedaEmail author
  • Óscar Peláez
  • Juliana Déo Dias
  • Bianca Trevizan Segovia
  • Cláudia Costa Bonecker
  • Luiz Felipe Machado Velho
  • Luzia Cleide Rodrigues
Research Article


We determined the variation in the composition of plankton communities (zooplankton, phytoplankton, and ciliates) in subtropical lakes at different temporal scales, in relation to the seasons (dry and rainy seasons), as well as at finer (among months) and broader (ENSO—among El Niño, La Niña, and normal climate events) scales. Using a 16-year time-series dataset, we tested the hypothesis that seasonal variation would explain most of the gamma diversity of these plankton communities. We also investigated the environmental and temporal factors responsible for the variations in composition and species turnover. The scale related to dry and rainy seasons explained a considerable percentage of the gamma diversity and variation partitioning, showed that compositional changes occurred mainly over broader temporal scales. Environmental factors varying among seasons and ENSO events explained changes in composition, although some communities did not respond to the environment. Our results suggest that niche and stochastic processes operating at temporal scales correlated with ENSO climate events contributed to changes in species composition. Hence, climate anomalies might be important to maintain diversity in areas with reduced or loss of the natural variations in environmental conditions. Our results also suggest that, although communities show similar patterns of variation in composition, they might respond in a different degree to environmental and temporal factors. Thus, while niche-associated (environment) and stochastic (time) processes drove the phytoplankton, stochastic processes were more important for zooplankton, whereas neither were important for ciliates.


Plankton diversity El Niño La Niña Floodplain Shallow lakes Flood pulse 



We thank Dr. Luis M. Bini, Dr. Liliana Rodrigues, Dr. Roger Paulo Mormul, and Dr. Nadson R. Simões for valuable comments on the first version of this manuscript. We also acknowledge three anonymous referees for providing valuable suggestions that significantly improved the quality of the manuscript. We thank Nupélia and PELD (site 6)/CNPq for logistic and financial support. CAPES provided a scholarship to AP and CNPq provided Grants to OP. All authors have contributed substantially to this work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfonso Pineda
    • 1
    Email author
  • Óscar Peláez
    • 1
  • Juliana Déo Dias
    • 2
  • Bianca Trevizan Segovia
    • 3
  • Cláudia Costa Bonecker
    • 1
    • 4
  • Luiz Felipe Machado Velho
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  • Luzia Cleide Rodrigues
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Programa de Pós-graduação em Ecologia de Ambientes Aquáticos ContinentaisUniversidade Estadual de Maringá, Avenida ColomboMaringá, ParanáBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Oceanografia e Limnologia. Via Costeira Senador Dinarte Medeiros MarizUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do NorteNatalBrazil
  3. 3.Department of BotanyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Núcleo de Pesquisas em Limnologia, Ictiologia e AquiculturaUniversidade Estadual de MaringáMaringáBrazil
  5. 5.Programa de Pós-graduação em Tecnologias Limpas (PPGTL)UnicesumarMaringáBrazil

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