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The effects of environmental factors and geographic distance on species turnover in an agriculturally dominated river network

Zhang, Zhiming, Gao, Junfeng, Cai, Yongjiu
Environmental monitoring and assessment 2019 v.191 no.4 pp. 201
Bacillariophyceae, aquatic communities, environmental factors, rivers, watersheds, China
Both environmental and geographic factors interact to structure the metacommunities in river networks, but the importance of these factors is difficult to distinguish. We used six aquatic taxonomic groups to test the relationship between environmental and geographic factors and their effect on species turnover patterns in an agriculturally dominated river (Chaohu Lake Basin, China). The relationships between three dissimilarity indices and geographic distance were assessed using the Mantel test while considering the differences in environmental factors between sites. Then, we employed a variation partitioning method to distinguish the isolated and combined effects of environmental and geographic distance on species turnover. There were significant relationships between environmental distance and species turnover in all groups. All organisms except periphytic diatoms were significantly correlated with two geographic (Euclidean and network) distances when the Chao dissimilarity index was considered. The results suggest that the strength of the correlations changed with environmental and geographic distances and with the aquatic community. The communities displayed more complex relationships with the distance measures when different dissimilarity (Jaccard, Chao, and Bray-Curtis dissimilarity) indices were considered. Nevertheless, aquatic communities are strongly influenced by both environmental and geographic distance, and the former has a stronger effect than the latter.