Positive relationship between regional distribution and local abundance in stream insects: a consequence of niche breadth or niche position?
Author: Heino, Jani
Source: Ecography, Volume 28, Number 3, June 2005 , pp. 345-354(10)
Abstract:A positive relationship between regional distribution and local abundance of species is almost ubiquitous macroecological pattern, yet the mechanisms behind this pattern remain poorly understood. I tested for the relationship between regional distribution and local abundance of stream insect species in a boreal drainage system, with a specific aim to examine if this relationship follows the mechanistic basis of either the niche-based (niche breadth and niche position) or metapopulation models. There was a positive relationship between regional distribution and local abundance of stream insects, and there also were significant relationships between distribution/abundance and niche breadth or niche position. These results thus suggest that widely distributed species tend to be, on average, locally more abundant, have wider niches and lower marginality of niche position with regard to environmental factors than species that have more restricted distributions. However, although significant, there was much unexplained variability around these relationships, suggesting that other mechanisms (e.g. metapopulation dynamics) besides differences in species' niches are likely to affect the distribution and abundance of stream insects, at least within a drainage system. The results thus showed that 1) although niche position was more consistently related to the positive distribution-abundance relationship, ecologists should not abandon niche breadth as a potential mechanism behind this relationship, and 2) that several mechanisms are likely to act in concert in determining the relationship between distribution and abundance of species.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2005-06-01