Theoretical habitat templets, species traits, and species richness: amphibians in the Upper Rhone River and its floodplain

  • JOLY P
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SUMMARY 1. For five orders of Insecta (Plecoptera, Ephemeroptera, Odonata, Trichoptera, and Coleoptera) in two sites of the Upper Rhone River (France), the following are examined: (i) relationships among nineteen spedes traits; (ii) habitat utilization of species; (iii) the relationship between spedes traits and habitat utilization; and (iv) trends of spedes traits and spedes richness in a templet of spatial—temporal habitat variability. 2. The species traits having the highest correlations correspond to reproduction, life cycle, nutritional, and morphological features. Spedes trait characteristics of Coleoptera are distinctly contrasted with those of Plecoptera and Ephemeroptera; Odonata and Trichoptera are intermediate to these orders. 3. The distribution of spedes in fourteen habitat types of the Upper Rhone River floodplain demonstrates a transverse gradient from the main channel to the oxbow lakes and the temporary water habitats, and a vertical gradient from interstitial to superfidai habitats. 4. Despite a significant relationship between spedes traits and habitat utilization, superposition between spedes traits and habitat utilization is limited. At the order level, spedes form usually one (Ephemeroptera, Trichoptera, Odonata) or several (Coleoptera) groups of relatively homogeneous spedes traits; however, the spedes of each of these groups utilize rather different habitat types. 5. Only for some life history traits, e.g. the minimum age of reproduction or the number of reproductive cycles per year, do the trends observed in the framework of spatial — temporal variability of habitat types agree with the predictions from the river habitat templet. This mismatch mainly results from the unique phylogenetic history of the Coleoptera compared with that of the other four orders. 6. Spedes richness peaks at an intermediate level of temporal variability; however, it does not gradually increase with increasing spatial variability, nor increase from low to intermediate temporal variability. tribution of both sedentary and mobile organisms is strongly influenced by the environniental conditions that affect biotic and abiotic processes (see Ward, 1992; Williams & Felmate, 1992, for recent reviews on aquatic insects). Presumably, the faunistic assem-blage perceives the spatial and temporal variability of patch mosaics, which is a mechanism that should select for appropriate biological traits and relevant

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