University of Oulu

Heino, J., Soininen, J., Alahuhta, J. et al. Oecologia (2017) 183: 121.

Metacommunity ecology meets biogeography : effects of geographical region, spatial dynamics and environmental filtering on community structure in aquatic organisms

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Author: Heino, Jani1; Soininen, Janne2; Alahuhta, Janne3,4;
Organizations: 1Natural Environment Centre, Biodiversity, Finnish Environment Institute, Paavo Havaksen Tie 3, P.O. Box 413, 90014 Oulu, Finland
2Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 64, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
3Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, 90014 Oulu, Finland
4Freshwater Centre, State of Surface Waters, Finnish Environment Institute, P.O. Box 413, 90014 Oulu, Finland
5Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 65, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
6Department of Physiological Diversity, Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research, UFZ, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
7German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Deutscher Platz 5e, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
8Department of Ecology, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, 90014 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2017
Publish Date: 2017-10-06


Metacommunity patterns and underlying processes in aquatic organisms have typically been studied within a drainage basin. We examined variation in the composition of six freshwater organismal groups across various drainage basins in Finland. We first modelled spatial structures within each drainage basin using Moran eigenvector maps. Second, we partitioned variation in community structure among three groups of predictors using constrained ordination: (1) local environmental variables, (2) spatial variables, and (3) dummy variable drainage basin identity. Third, we examined turnover and nestedness components of multiple-site beta diversity, and tested the best fit patterns of our datasets using the “elements of metacommunity structure” analysis. Our results showed that basin identity and local environmental variables were significant predictors of community structure, whereas within-basin spatial effects were typically negligible. In half of the organismal groups (diatoms, bryophytes, zooplankton), basin identity was a slightly better predictor of community structure than local environmental variables, whereas the opposite was true for the remaining three organismal groups (insects, macrophytes, fish). Both pure basin and local environmental fractions were, however, significant after accounting for the effects of the other predictor variable sets. All organismal groups exhibited high levels of beta diversity, which was mostly attributable to the turnover component. Our results showed consistent Clementsian-type metacommunity structures, suggesting that subgroups of species responded similarly to environmental factors or drainage basin limits. We conclude that aquatic communities across large scales are mostly determined by environmental and basin effects, which leads to high beta diversity and prevalence of Clementsian community types.

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Series: Oecologia
ISSN: 0029-8549
ISSN-E: 1432-1939
ISSN-L: 0029-8549
Volume: 183
Issue: 1
Pages: 121 - 137
DOI: 10.1007/s00442-016-3750-y
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: Financial support was provided by the Academy of Finland (to JH and JS).
Copyright information: © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Oecologia. The final authenticated version is available online at: