University of Oulu

Qingji Zhang, Yongjiu Cai, Zhijun Gong, Lachun Wang, Jani Heino, Boqiang Qin, Unveiling the influence of specialists and generalists on Macroinvertebrate assemblage heterogeneity in lake Taihu, Ecological Indicators, Volume 154, 2023, 110741, ISSN 1470-160X,

Unveiling the influence of specialists and generalists on Macroinvertebrate assemblage heterogeneity in lake Taihu

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Author: Zhang, Qingji1,2; Cai, Yongjiu2; Gong, Zhijun2;
Organizations: 1School of Geography and Ocean Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, PR China
2State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, PR China
3Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 8000, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-10-03


The loss of biodiversity in the era of fast environmental change is often revealed as biotic homogenization. In the large and nutrient-rich Lake Taihu located in eastern China, we evaluated the degree of specialization among organisms and the impact of environmental factors on macroinvertebrate assemblages. First, we measured the niche widths of macroinvertebrate species in respect to environmental conditions and utilized the Outlying Mean Index (OMI) analysis to categorize them into specialists and generalists. The effects of environmental factors on assemblages of macroinvertebrate taxa identified by varying niche widths were then investigated using the lake dataset. Within our study lake, habitats display considerable environmental gradients, resulting in habitat heterogeneity linked to several habitats, and have no barriers to species migration. Generalist macroinvertebrate taxa dominated the macroinvertebrate assemblages in our study lake, but some differences were evident among the different habitat types of the lake. The macrophyte-dominated habitat (MDH) displayed the highest species richness for both generalists (11 species) and specialists (8 species), while the algal-dominated habitat (ADH) had lower richness but higher overall abundances. Generalist species showed the largest abundances, exhibiting considerable spatial heterogeneity among the sampled sites. Our results showed that generalists shape macroinvertebrate assemblages through their abundance and richness variation in large shallow lakes. Furthermore, strong environmental gradients and a high degree of habitat connectivity within large lakes allow specialist and intermediate species to maintain high richness in resource-rich habitats, in addition to generalist species also maintaining high abundance in such lakes.

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Series: Ecological indicators
ISSN: 1470-160X
ISSN-E: 1872-7034
ISSN-L: 1470-160X
Volume: 154
Article number: 110741
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2023.110741
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1172 Environmental sciences
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This work was jointly supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (U2240208); Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA23040202); State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment (2022SKL009) and the Science and Technology Planning Project of NIGLAS (NIGLAS2022GS02).
Copyright information: © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (