Skip to main content

Effects of connectivity, dispersal directionality and functional traits on the metacommunity structure of river benthic diatoms

Buy Article:

$43.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)


Dendritic ecological networks (DENs), such as river systems, combine features that challenge the traditional conceptual views and empirical approaches applied to metacommunities. As a result of their dendritic branching geometry and stream flow directionality, they are strongly hierarchical and asymmetrical. We analysed the metacommunity structure of benthic diatoms in a large‐scale river system with the aim of evaluating the importance of potential causal influences. Furthermore, we hypothesized that metacommunities of diatoms that are strongly attached to their substrata show a different spatial structure than metacommunities of other, more weakly attached diatoms.

The study was carried out in the Dong River, a 32,275 km2 subtropical river network located in southern China.

We surveyed benthic diatom communities during three seasons (dry, intermediate and wet). Using partial redundancy analysis, we partitioned community variation among environmental models and different spatial eigenfunction models to evaluate the influence of alternative dispersal pathways (overland versus water course dispersal), stream directionality, man‐made dams and diatom functional traits on diatom metacommunity structure.

Models based on hydrological connections and water directionality represent spatial patterns better than overland distances, suggesting that the dynamics of benthic diatom metacommunities are mainly confined to the river network and influenced by the prevailing water flow. We found significant effects of man‐made dams on the spatial structure of important limnological variables and diatom metacommunity structure. The metacommunity of strongly attached diatoms also showed a weaker signature of flow directionality than that of other growth forms, especially in seasons with high water levels.
Main conclusions

We conclude that the consideration of among‐site connectivity, flow directionality and species traits is key to a better understanding of the spatial ecology of passively dispersing microbial organisms in river systems.
No References
No Citations
No Supplementary Data
No Article Media
No Metrics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2013

  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more