Physical determinants of richness, diversity, evenness and abundance in natural aquatic microcosms

  • Therriault T
  • Kolasa J
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Abstract

Histories, biotic factors and abiotic factors interact to determine biodiversity. A comparison of systems formed over a range of physical conditions may help to evaluate the role of physical factors in determining community structure. We investigated abiotic determinants of species richness, abundance, biomass, diversity and evenness using a series of erosional rock pools on the northern coast of Jamaica. Aquatic invertebrate community data were collected from 1989 to 1997, alongwith repeated measurements of physical variables, including descriptors of pool conditions,morphometric characteristics and other derived measures to a total of 17 variables. These variableswere used to evaluate a range of regression models, from simple to complex, which explained the observed biodiversity. Simple regression models were occasionally significant but explained little variance. Multiple regression models (using a forward stepwise approach) significantly increased the explained variance of these biodiversity models. Diversity models that emphasized species richness (rather than dominance or evenness) of the community, were preferred. These results suggest that much of the observed species richness/diversity is determined by abiotic pool conditions and represents an accumulation of tolerant species, either directly or indirectly (i.e.modulated by biotic interactions). However, regression models attempting to predict abundance/biomass based on abiotic variables explained less variance than did those predicting richness/diversity. This may indicate that biotic factors within pools at population or community levels are controlling species densities. Introduction Species richness is controlled by a combination of history and biotic and abiotic factors. As a historical phenomenon, species richness may represent an equi- librium between accumulation and loss of species over time (Fischer, 1960). Biotic factors influence species diversity through a variety of factors such as preda- tion, competition,mutualism and interference (Pianka, 1994). Abiotic factors have been some of the most studied variables that influence biodiversity. Previ- ous studies have found relationships between diversity and latitude, climate, habitat heterogeneity and habitat size, among others and have been reviewed previously (see Huston, 1994; Rosenzweig, 1995). ∗ Author for correspondence Endogenou

Author-supplied keywords

  • Abundance
  • Aquatic
  • Biomass
  • Diversity
  • Evenness
  • Physical determinants

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