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Spatial factors control the structure of fish metacommunity in a Mediterranean intermittent river

Abstract : While in recent years intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams (IRES) are receiving increasing attention from ecologists, fish metacommunity dynamics have drawn less attention than other taxa. In this study, we explored fish metacommunity dynamics at a Mediterranean intermittent river (Evrotas River, Southern Greece) to unravel which factors (i.e. environmental and/or spatial) best explain fish metacommunity structure. To this end, we investigated fish compositional structure in perennial and intermittent sites distributed longitudinally along the river during the low flow period of a wet year (2009), following two extremely dry years (2007-2008). To disentangle the effects of spatial control versus local environmental variables in shaping fish metacommunities, asymmetric eigenvector map (AEM) analysis designed to model directional spatial processes, and variation partitioning were applied. Our results point out that fish metacommunity structure was largely explained by spatial (53%) rather than local environmental (3%) factors, whereas only a small fraction (16%) was explained by the spatial structure of the environmental variables. Irrespectively of their hydrological regime, neighboring sites harbored similar fish communities, with a strong longitudinal gradient in local community structure, suggesting a homogenizing effect of dispersal. Local environmental factors were not associated with shifts in community structure. These results differ markedly from those drawn from most perennial aquatic ecosystems, where environmental factors are prevailing. Overall, this study emphasizes the need to account for regional processes in IRES and adopt a metacommunity perspective for guiding conservation and restoration efforts, by promoting the connectivity within the river network and the protection of perennial refugia. (C) 2020 European Regional Centre for Ecohydrology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-03257963
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Submitted on : Friday, June 11, 2021 - 11:19:02 AM
Last modification on : Friday, July 23, 2021 - 9:52:04 AM

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Leonidas Vardakas, Eleni Kalogianni, Evangelia Smeti, Alcibiades Economou, Nikolaos Th. Skoulikidis, et al.. Spatial factors control the structure of fish metacommunity in a Mediterranean intermittent river. Ecohydrology and Hydrobiology, Elsevier, 2020, 20 (3), pp.346-356. ⟨10.1016/j.ecohyd.2020.04.005⟩. ⟨hal-03257963⟩

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