Biological traits of European pond macroinvertebrates
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Whilst biological traits of river macroinvertebrates show unimodal responses to geographic changes in habitat conditions in Europe, we still do not know whether spatial turnover of species result in distinct combinations of biological traits for pond macroinvertebrates. Here, we used data on the occurrence of 204 macroinvertebrate taxa in 120 ponds from four biogeographic regions of Europe, to compare their biological traits. The Mediterranean, Atlantic, Alpine, and Continental regions have specific climate, vegetation and geology. Only two taxa were exclusively found in the Alpine and Continental regions, while 28 and 34 taxa were exclusively recorded in the Atlantic and Mediterranean regions, respectively. Invertebrates in the Mediterranean region allocated much energy to reproduction and resistance forms. Most Mediterranean invertebrate species had narrow thermal ranges. In Continental areas, invertebrates allocated lesser energy to reproduction and dispersal, and organisms were short lived with high diversity of feeding groups. These characteristics suggest higher resilience. The main difference between ponds in the Alpine and Atlantic regions was their elevation. Alpine conditions necessitate specific adaptations related to rapid temperature fluctuations, and low nutrient concentrations. Even if our samples did not cover the full range of pond conditions across Europe, our analyses suggest that changes in community composition have important impacts on pond ecosystem functions. Consistent information on a larger set of ponds across Europe would be much needed, but their low accessibility (unpublished data and/or not disclosed by authors) remains problematic. There is still, therefore, a pressing need for the incorporation of high quality data sets into a standardized database so that they can be further analyzed in an integrated European-wide manner.
KeywordsBiogeographic regions Community functions Database Freshwater biodiversity Fuzzy coding
This work was funded by the MAVA Foundation as part of the Pro-Pond Project. Three anonymous reviewers provided valuable comments on an earlier version of this article.
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