Floods homogenize aquatic communities across time but not across space in a Neotropical floodplain

Abstract

A pattern of increasing similarity among ecological communities in space or time is usually a consequence of anthropogenic pressures. However, natural causes such as flood pulse may also increase spatial similarity among lakes or temporal similarity within a lake. We assessed whether floods homogenize zooplankton and macrophyte assemblages in space and time using a 16 years data set obtained in six lakes in the Upper Paraná River floodplain. The spatial changes in beta diversity were tested by comparing assemblages in pairs of lakes located close to each other, while the temporal changes in beta diversity were tested by comparing assemblages of the same lake over time. We did not find lower spatial beta diversity for macrophytes or zooplankton during floods. In contrast, we found lower temporal beta diversity for aquatic macrophytes and littoral zooplankton among flood events. We did find the re-colonization of a similar set of species at each flood event as opposed to drought events for littoral species. On the other hand, for pelagic zooplankton, a diverse regional species pool and the arrival of zooplankton from littoral zones probably resulted in stochastic colonization in the different lakes, and thus less similar community composition during floods. We highlight the importance of explore simultaneously spatial and temporal beta diversities in complex and dynamic ecosystems such as floodplains, because the same event (i.e., flood or drought) may drive different community patterns across space or time.

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Acknowledgements

DKP thanks the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior—Brazil (CAPES)—Finance Code 001 and the Global Affairs Canada–Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) for providing Brazilian and Canadian student fellowships, respectively. Our study was supported by the “Long-Term Ecological Research” (PELD) from the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) in Brazil. We are grateful to all researcher from Macrophytes, Zooplankton and Limnology Laboratories (Nupelia/ Universidade Estadual de Maringá) for providing data across all studied years and Jaime Pereira for the map. DKP thanks Jean Ortega for the help with linear mixed effect models. JDD thanks CNPq to provide post-doctoral scholarship. ASM and AAP received research fellowships from CNPq (proc. no. 307587/2017-7 and 301867/2018-6, respectively).

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Correspondence to Danielle Katharine Petsch.

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Petsch, D.K., Cottenie, K., Padial, A.A. et al. Floods homogenize aquatic communities across time but not across space in a Neotropical floodplain. Aquat Sci 83, 19 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00027-020-00774-4

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Keywords

  • Beta diversity
  • Macrophytes
  • Zooplankton
  • Flood pulse