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Hydrobiologia

, 621:63 | Cite as

Extreme flood events favour floodplain mollusc diversity

  • Christiane Ilg
  • Francis Foeckler
  • Oskar Deichner
  • Klaus Henle
Primary research paper

Abstract

Floods are fundamental for the maintenance of floodplain biodiversity. As a result, well-functioning floodplains are characterized by a high spatio-temporal heterogeneity. Most floodplain-organisms need this shifting landscape mosaic to fulfil their environmental requirements and display a range of adaptations to survive floods. However, in temperate areas, where winter floods are common, extraordinary floods occurring in summer, a period of high physiological activity, may seriously impact the floodplain fauna. This is especially true for guilds characterized by low mobility, such as molluscs. Here we examined the immediate and longer-term response of Elbe grassland molluscs to the extreme 2002 Elbe summer flood in terms of abundance, diversity, and community composition by comparing pre- and post-flood data collected with identical methods. The flood favoured the colonization of aquatic species and led to a shift of the community towards a more hydrophilic composition. Both diversity and abundance increased significantly in the first year following the flood but decreased later gradually to the pre-flood levels. The high spatio-temporal habitat heterogeneity played an important part in the maintenance of mollusc diversity by increasing refuge opportunities and favouring the maintenance of various mollusc communities with different environmental requirements within the floodplain.

Keywords

Extreme flood River Elbe Grassland Mollusca Community dynamics 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the German Ministry of Education and Research (project RIVA – # 0339579) and by the Federal Hydrological Institute (project HABEX – # RA/V1658). We thank the River Landscape Biosphere Reserve Middle Elbe (Saxony-Anhalt), the nature conservation authorities, the farmers, and all RIVA and HABEX colleagues for their helpful cooperation.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christiane Ilg
    • 1
  • Francis Foeckler
    • 2
  • Oskar Deichner
    • 2
  • Klaus Henle
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Conservation BiologyUFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental ResearchLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.ÖKON, Ltd. Ass. for Landscape Ecology, Limnology and Environmental PlanningKallmünzGermany

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