Theoretical Habitat Templets, Species Traits, and Species Richness - Amphibians in the Upper Rhone River and Its Floodplain

  • Joly P
  • Morand A
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1. The purpose of this study was to test predictions of the habitat templet and the patch dynamics concept by analysing the relationship between either the species traits or species richness of amphibians and the spatial-temporal variability of eight habitat types of the Upper Rhone River and its floodplain, France. 2. The information on species traits of the twelve amphibian species was accumulated primarily from the literature; that on habitat utilization was based on field surveys. The information was 'fuzzy coded', analysed by ordination techniques, and finally linked to the spatial-temporal variability of habitat types elaborated elsewhere in this issue. 3. After elimination of the variance caused by the differences between urodeles and anurans, correspondence analysis of the matrix of species traits demonstrated that the flexibility of the temporal pattern of reproduction was the major source of variation among amphibian species. A less significant source of variation within anurans was related to traits usually linked to the concept of r-K selection (potential number of descendants per reproductive cycle and ratio of egg size to female size). 4. A correspondence analysis of habitat utilization by amphibian species separated four groups of habitat types, corresponding to different degrees of influence that the active channel had on adjacent waters in the floodplain (i.e. from habitats that are most frequently disturbed by floods, to habitats of braided sections, old oxbow lakes, and the more terrestrialized habitats). 5. A co-inertia analysis of the relationship between species traits and habitat utilization separated two habitat types (terrestrialized former meanders and oxbow lakes) from the others. Species of terrestrialized habitats had a reproductive display, a low number of descendants per reproductive cycle, and a high ratio of egg size to female size. Species of oxbow lakes were early or synchronous breeders, and laid a single clutch. 6. Neither the predictions of the habitat templet concept nor those of the patch dynamics concept were validated. Species traits were not significantly correlated to the axes of the spatial-temporal variability templet. The highest species richness was observed in habitat types with the highest temporal variability; in addition, richness did not peak at highest spatial variability. 7. Deviation from the predictions of the river habitat templet could be explained by: (i) the over-simplification of this model with regard to the evolution of the complex life cycles of the amphibians; and (ii) an underestimation of the importance of phylogenetic constraints and the evolution of community interactions.

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  • P Joly

  • A Morand

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