University of Oulu

Tonkin JD, Death RG, Muotka T, Astorga A, Lytle DA. (2018) Do latitudinal gradients exist in New Zealand stream invertebrate metacommunities? PeerJ 6:e4898

Do latitudinal gradients exist in New Zealand stream invertebrate metacommunities?

Saved in:
Author: Tonkin, Jonathan D.1; Death, Russell G.2; Muotka, Timo3,4;
Organizations: 1Department of Integrative Biology, Oregon State University
2Institute of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University
3Department of Ecology, University of Oulu
4Natural Environment Centre, Finnish Environment Institute
5Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity, P. Universidad Catolica de Chile & Centro de Investigación de Ecosistemas de la Patagonia
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.2 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: PeerJ, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-08-29


That biodiversity declines with latitude is well known, but whether a metacommunity process is behind this gradient has received limited attention. We tested the hypothesis that dispersal limitation is progressively replaced by mass effects with increasing latitude, along with a series of related hypotheses. We explored these hypotheses by examining metacommunity structure in stream invertebrate metacommunities spanning the length of New Zealand’s two largest islands (∼1,300 km), further disentangling the role of dispersal by deconstructing assemblages into strong and weak dispersers. Given the highly dynamic nature of New Zealand streams, our alternative hypothesis was that these systems are so unpredictable (at different stages of post-flood succession) that metacommunity structure is highly context dependent from region to region. We rejected our primary hypotheses, pinning this lack of fit on the strong unpredictability of New Zealand’s dynamic stream ecosystems and fauna that has evolved to cope with these conditions. While local community structure turned over along this latitudinal gradient, metacommunity structure was highly context dependent and dispersal traits did not elucidate patterns. Moreover, the emergent metacommunity types exhibited no trends, nor did the important environmental variables. These results provide a cautionary tale for examining singular metacommunities. The considerable level of unexplained contingency suggests that any inferences drawn from one-off snapshot sampling may be misleading and further points to the need for more studies on temporal dynamics of metacommunity processes.

see all

Series: PeerJ
ISSN: 2167-8359
ISSN-E: 2167-8359
ISSN-L: 2167-8359
Volume: 6
Article number: e4898
DOI: 10.7717/peerj.4898
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Dataset Reference: The following information was supplied regarding data availability: Tonkin, Jonathan D; Death, Russell G; Muotka, Timo; Astorga, Anna (2018): Stream invertebrate data and local habitat variables from 120 New Zealand streams. figshare. Fileset.
Copyright information: © 2018 Tonkin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.