Are common species sufficient in describing turnover in aquatic metacommunities along environmental and spatial gradients?

Heino, Jani, and Janne Soininen

Limnol. Oceanogr., 55(6), 2010, 2397-2402 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2010.55.6.2397

ABSTRACT: Recent findings have suggested that large-scale diversity patterns are primarily driven by widespread species, while rare species are less important in this regard. The degree to which variation in the diversity of local communities in the context of metacommunity ecology concurs with these findings has not been rigorously examined to date. It is also unknown if community turnover along environmental and spatial gradients is mostly attributable to common as opposed to rare species. We examined spatial turnover for three categories of species, all, common, and rare, in seven aquatic metacommunities using simple and partial Mantel tests. We found that variation in turnover along environmental and spatial gradients was generally similar among all, common, and rare species categories, with five of the seven data sets following this pattern. Our findings thus suggest that spatial turnover in aquatic metacommunities can often be adequately described using common species. More importantly, our findings also suggest that turnover-environment relationships can also be described relatively well using information from common species only.

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