Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2011 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Linking management to metacommunity dynamics in ponds
Sokol, Eric
Co-Authors: Brett Tornwall, Cayelan C. Carey, Bryan L. Brown, Christopher M. Swan

The metacommunity concept provides a framework to describe the influence of dispersal- and niche-based dynamics over local and regional biodiversity patterns. In built environments, management decisions serve as a prominent feedback between ecological structure (e.g., biodiversity patterns) and human-controlled environmental variables (e.g., pond productivity controlled through the application of algaecides). In this study, we used the metacommunity concept to assess the underlying niche and dispersal dynamics that link zooplankton biodiversity to different management regimes in urban water bodies associated with the BES LTER. In the summer of 2011, we sampled zooplankton in 22 ponds that spanned a gradient of heavily managed for recreation and aesthetic value (e.g., the ponds received multiple chemical and algaecide applications to improve water clarity) to unmanaged. We found that managed ponds had higher local (alpha) diversity yet lower spatial turnover in community composition (beta-diversity) than ponds that were not managed. We used a lottery-based metacommunity simulation to assess how shifts in niche- and dispersal-based mechanisms could create the disparities in diversity patterns observed between managed and unmanaged ponds. Diversity patterns from simulated metacommunity scenarios provide evidence for the hypothesis that unmanaged ponds represent sites with highly variable species sorting dynamics, whereas environmental filters appear to have lower specificity in managed sites, allowing for an increase in local diversity.