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The effects of dispersal and recruitment limitation on community structure of odonates in artificial ponds

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I examined the effects of isolation on the structure of both adult and larval dragonfly (Odonata: Anisoptera) communities forming at physically identical artificial ponds over two years. Isolation, whether measured by distance to the nearest source habitat or by connectivity to multiple sources, was significantly negatively related to the species richness of dragonflies observed at and collected in these ponds. These results indicate that dispersal and recruitment limitation acted as filters on the richness of communities at these artificial ponds. The richness of larval recruits in artificial ponds was lower than the richness of adult dispersers observed at ponds, and distance from a source habitat explained a greater fraction of the variation in larval than adult richness (83 and 50%, respectively). These results and a male biased sex-ratio in adults observed at artificial ponds suggest that isolated habitats may be more recruitment limited than observations of dispersers would suggest. A Mantel test indicated there was a spatial component to the composition of communities forming in tanks, and that distance between tanks and community dissimilarity (1-Jaccard's) were significantly positively related (r=0.52). This pattern suggests that their position with respect to alternative source environments influenced the composition of the communities that recruited into these ponds. These results provide further evidence of recruitment limitation in this system. Results from this study highlight the importance behaviorally limited dispersal may have in taxa morphologically capable of broad dispersal and suggest that the role of dispersal and recruitment limitation may be critical in shaping community structure across habitat gradients that include variation in habitat duration.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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