Ponds contribute substantially to the maintenance of regional biodiversity. Despite a growing body of literature on biotic-abiotic relationships in ponds, only few generalizations have been made. The difficulty in identifying the main drivers of pond biodiversity has been typically attributed to the heterogeneity of the local and regional conditions characterizing ponds. However, little is known on how the use of different analytical approaches and community response variables affects the results of analysis of community patterns in ponds. Here, we used a range of methods to model the response of water beetle and plant community data (species richness and composition) to a set of 12 environmental and management variables in 45 farmland ponds. The strength of biotic-abiotic relationships and the contribution of each variable to the overall explained variance in the reduced models varied substantially, for both plants and beetles, depending on the method used to analyze the data. Models of species richness included a lower number of variables and explained a larger amount of variation compared to models of species composition, reflecting the higher complexity characterizing multispecies response matrices. Only two variables were never selected by any of the model, indicative of the heterogeneity characterizing pond ecosystems, while some models failed to select important variables. Based on our findings, we recommend the use of multiple modeling approaches when attempting to identify the principal determinants of biodiversity for each response variable, including at least a non-parametric approach, as well as the use of both species richness and composition as the response variables. The results of this modeling exercise are discussed in relation to their practical use in the formulation of conservation strategies.
Akaike Information Criterion
Bayesian Information Criterion
Canonical Correspondence Analysis
Forward Procedure of variable selection
Generalized Linear Model
Distance-based Linear regression model
Permutational multivariate model of biotic-abiotic relationships
PERmutational Multivariate ANalysis Of VAriance
Variance Inflation Factor
Anderson, M.J. 2001. Permutation tests for univariate or multivariate analysis of variance and regression. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 58: 626–639.
Anderson, M.J., R.N. Gorley and K.R. Clarke. 2008. PERMA-NOVA1 for PRIMER. Guide to software and statistical methods. PRIMER-E Ltd., Plymouth, UK.
Biggs, J., P. Williams, M. Whitfield, P. Nicolet and A. Weatherby. 2005. 15 Years of pond assessment in Britain: results and lessons learned from the work of Pond Conservation. Aquat. Conserv. Mar. Freshwater Ecosyst. 15: 693–714.
Bilton, D.T., L. McAbendroth, A. Bedford and P.M. Ramsay. 2006. How wide to cast the net? Cross-taxon congruence of species richness, community similarity and indicator taxa in ponds. Freshwater Biol. 51: 578–590.
Blanchet, F.G., P. Legendre and D. Borcard. 2008. Forward selection of explanatory variables. Ecology 89: 2623–2632.
Bray, J. and J. Curtis. 1957. An ordination of the upland forest communities of Southern Wisconsin. Ecol. Monog. 27: 325–349.
Burnham, K.P. and D.R. Anderson. 2004. Multimodel inference: understanding AIC and BIC in model selection. Sociol. Method. Res. 33: 261–304.
Céréghino, R., J.Biggs, B. Oertli and S. Declerck. 2008. The ecology of European ponds: defining the characteristics of a neglected freshwater habitat. Hydrobiologia 597: 1–6.
Clarke, R.K. 1993. Non-parametric multivariate analyses of changes in community structure. Austral. Ecol. 18: 117–143.
Clarke, K.R. and M. Ainsworth. 1993. A method of linking multivariate community structure to environmental variables. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 92: 205–219.
Clarke, R.K. and R. Warwick. 2001. Change in Marine Communities: an Approach to Statistical Analysis and Interpretation. PRIMER-E, Plymouth.
Crawley, M.J. 1993. Glim for Ecologists. Blackwell, Oxford.
Fairchild, G.W., J. Cruz, A.M. Faulds, A.E.Z Short and J.F. Matta. 2003. Microhabitat and landscape influences on aquatic beetle assemblages in a cluster of temporary and permanent ponds. J. N. Am. Benthol. Soc. 22: 224–240.
Fleishman, E., R. Noss and B.R. Noon. 2006. Utility and limitations of species richness metrics for conservation planning. Ecol. Indic. 6: 543–553.
Foster, G.N., A.P. Foster, M.D. Eyre and D.T. Bilton. 1990. Classification of water beetle assemblages in arable fenland and ranking of sites in relation to conservation value. Freshwater Biol. 22: 343–354.
Foster, G.N., B.H. Nelson, D.T. Bilton, D.A. Lott, R. Merritt, R.S. Weyl and M.D. Eyre. 1992. A classification and evaluation of Irish water beetle assemblages. Aquat. Conserv. Mar. Freshwater Ecosyst. 2: 185–208.
Gee, J.H.R., B.D Smith., K.M. Lee and S.W. Griffiths. 1997. The ecological basis of freshwater pond management for biodiversity. Aquat. Conserv. Mar. Freshwater Ecosyst. 7: 91–104.
Gioria, M., A.P. Schaffers, G. Bacaro and J. Feehan. 2010. Predicting the conservation value of farmland ponds: use of vascular plants as a surrogate group. Biol. Conserv. 143: 1125–1133.
Gower, J.C. 1971. Statistical methods of comparing different multivariate analyses of the same data. In: F.R. Hodson, D.G. Kendall and P. Tautu (eds.),Mathematics in the Archaeological and Historical Sciences. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh. pp. 138–149.
Guisan, A., S.B. Weiss and A.D. Weiss. 1999. GLM versus CCA spatial modeling of plant species distribution. Plant Ecol. 143: 107–122.
Guisan, A. and N.E. Zimmermann. 2000. Predictive habitat distribution models in ecology. Ecol. Model. 135: 147–186.
Guthery, F.S., L.A. Brennan, M.J. Peterson and J.J. Lusk. 2005. Information theory in wildlife science: critique and viewpoint. J. Wildl. Manage. 69: 457–465.
Hastie, T.J. and D. Pregibon. 1993. Generalized linear models. In J.M. Chambers and T.J. Hastie (eds.), Statistical Models in S. Chapman and Hall London, UK. pp. 194–244.
Heino, J. 2000. Lentic macroinvertebrate assemblage structure along gradients in spatial heterogeneity, habitat size and water chemistry. Hydrobiologia 418: 229–242.
Jackson, D.A. 1995. PROTEST: a Procrustean randomization test of community environment concordance. Ecoscience 2: 297–303.
Jeffries, M.J. 2008. The spatial and temporal heterogeneity of macrophyte communities in thirty small, temporary ponds over a period of ten years. Ecography 31: 765–775.
Legendre, P. and L. Legendre. 1998. Numerical Ecology. 2nd ed. El-sevier, Amsterdam.
Mantel, N.A. 1967. The detection of disease clustering and a generalized regression approach. Cancer Res. 27: 209–220.
McArdle, B.H. and M.J. Anderson. 2001. Fitting multivariate models to semi-metric distances: a comment on distance-based redundancy analysis. Ecology 82: 290–297.
McCullagh, P. and J.A. Nelder. 1989. Generalized Linear Models. Chapman and Hall, London.
Menetrey, N., L. Sager, B. Oertli and J.-B. Lachavanne. 2005. Looking for metrics to assess the trophic state of ponds. Macroinver-tebrates and amphibians. Aquat. Conserv. Mar. Freshwater Ecosyst. 15: 653–664.
Montgomery, D.C. and L.A. Peck. 1982. Introduction to Linear Regression Analysis. John Wiley and Sons, New York.
Naranjo, S.A., J.L. Carballo and J.C. Garcia-Gomez. 1996. Effects of environmental stress on ascidian populations in Algeciras Bay (southern Spain). Possible marine bioindicators? Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 144: 119–131.
Nicolet, P., J. Biggs, G. Fox, M.J. Hodson, C. Reynolds, M. Whit-field and P. Williams. 2004. The wetland plant and macroinver-tebrate assemblages of temporary ponds in England and Wales. Biol. Conserv. 120: 261–278.
Oertli, B., D.A. Joye, E. Castella, R. Juge, D. Cambin and J.-B. Lachavanne. 2002. Does size matter? The relationship between pond area and biodiversity. Biol. Conserv. 104: 59–70.
Pakulnicka, J. 2008. The formation of water beetle fauna in anthropogenic water bodies. Oceanol. Hydrobiol. St. 37: 31–42.
Peres-Neto, P.R. and D.A. Jackson. 2001. How well do multivariate data sets match? The robustness and flexibility of a Procrustean superimposition approach over the Mantel test. Oecologia 129:169–178.
R Development Core Team. 2010. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna.
Rodwell, J.S. 1995. British Plant Communities, vol. 4. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Sætersdal, M., I. Gjerde, H.H. Blom, P.G. Ihlen, E.W., Myreseth, R. Pommeresche, J. Skartveit, T. Solhøyb and O. Aasc. 2003. Vascular plant as a surrogate species group in complementary site selection for bryophytes, macro-lichens, spiders, carabids, staphylinids, snails, and wood living polypore fungi in a northernforest. Biol. Conserv. 115: 21–31.
Schaffers, A.P., I.P. Raemakers, K.V. Sýkora and C.J.F. ter Braak. 2008. Arthropod assemblages are best predicted by plant species composition. Ecology 89: 782–794.
Schwarz, G. 1978. Estimating the dimension of a model. Ann. Stat. 6: 461–464.
Studinski, J.M. and S.A. Grubbs. 2007. Environmental factors affecting the distribution of aquatic invertebrates in temporary ponds in Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky, USA. Hydrobiologia 575: 211–220.
Su, J.C., D.M., Debinski, M.E. Jakubauskas and K. Kindscher. 2004. Beyond species richness: community similarity as a measure of cross-taxon congruence for coarse-filter conservation. Conserv. Biol. 18: 167–173.
ter Braak, C.J.F. 1986. Canonical correspondence analysis: A new eigenvariable technique for multivariate direct gradient analysis. Ecology 67: 1167–1179.
Thuiller, W. 2003. BIOMOD: Optimising predictions of species distributions and projecting potential future shifts under global change. Glob. Change Biol. 9: 1353–1362.
Williams, P., M. Whitfield, J. Biggs, S. Bray, G. Fox, P. Nicolet and D. Sear. 2004. Comparative biodiversity of rivers, streams, ditches and ponds in an agricultural landscape in Southern England. Biol. Conserv. 115: 329–341.
Wood, P.J., M.T. Greenwood and M.D. Agnew. 2003. Pond biodiversity and habitat loss in the UK. Area 35: 206–216.
Electronic supplementary material
About this article
Cite this article
Gioria, M., Bacaro, G. & Feehan, J. Identifying the drivers of pond biodiversity: the agony of model selection. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY 11, 179–186 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1556/ComEc.11.2010.2.6
- Forward selection
- Multivariate analysis
- Species richness
- Water beetle
- Wetland plant