University of Oulu

Heino, J., Alahuhta, J., Ala-Hulkko, T., Antikainen, H., Bini, L., Bonada, N., Datry, T., Erős, T., Hjort, J., Kotavaara, O., Melo, A., Soininen, J. (2017) Integrating dispersal proxies in ecological and environmental research in the freshwater realm. 25 (3), 334-349. doi:

Integrating dispersal proxies in ecological and environmental research in the freshwater realm

Saved in:
Author: Heino, Jani1; Alahuhta, Janne2; Ala-Hulkko, Terhi2;
Organizations: 1Finnish Environment Institute, Natural Environment Centre, Biodiversity, Paavo Havaksen Tie 3, FI-90570 Oulu, Finland
2University of Oulu, Geography Research Unit, P.O. Box 3000, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland
3Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Goiânia, 74001-970, GO, Brazil
4Grup de Recerca Freshwater Ecology and Management (FEM), Departament d’Ecologia, Facultat de Biologia, Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat (IRBio), Universitat de Barcelona (UB), Diagonal 643, 08028-Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
5IRSTEA, UR-MALY, 5 rue de la Doua, BP 32108, 69616 VILLEURBANNE Cedex, France
6Balaton Limnological Institute, MTA Centre for Ecological Research, Klebelsberg K. u. 3., H-8237 Tihany, Hungary
7University of Helsinki, Department of Geosciences and Geography, P.O. Box 64, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 4 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Canadian Science Publishing, 2017
Publish Date: 2019-06-13


Dispersal is one of the key mechanisms affecting the distribution of individuals, populations, and communities in nature. Despite advances in the study of single species, it has been notoriously difficult to account for dispersal in multispecies metacommunities, where it potentially has strong effects on community structure beyond those of local environmental conditions. Dispersal should thus be directly integrated in both basic and applied research by using proxies. Here, we review the use of proxies in the current metacommunity research, suggest new proxies, and discuss how proxies could be used in community modelling, particularly in freshwater systems. We suggest that while traditional proxies may still be useful, proxies formerly utilized in transport geography may provide useful novel insights into the structuring of biological communities in freshwater systems. We also suggest that understanding the utility of such proxies for dispersal in metacommunities is highly important for many applied fields such as freshwater bioassessment, conservation planning, and recolonization research in the context of restoration ecology. These research fields have often ignored spatial dynamics and focused mostly on local environmental conditions and changes therein. Yet, the conclusions of these applied studies may change considerably if dispersal is taken into account.

see all

Series: Environmental reviews
ISSN: 1181-8700
ISSN-E: 1208-6053
ISSN-L: 1181-8700
Volume: 25
Issue: 3
Pages: 334 - 349
DOI: 10.1139/er-2016-0110
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Copyright information: © 2017 The Authors. The final publication is available at