AB 16:277-285 (2012)  -  doi:10.3354/ab00459

Distribution patterns of a marsh vegetation metacommunity in relation to habitat configuration

Esther Sebastián-González1,4,*, José A. Molina2, Mariano Paracuellos3

1Ecology Area, Department of Applied Biology, Miguel Hernández University, Elche, Spain
2Department of Plant Biology II, Complutense University, 28040 Madrid, Spain
3Aquatic Ecology and Aquaculture Research Group, Almería University, 04770 Adra, Almería, Spain
4Present address: Departamento de Ecologia-IB, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), Rua do Matão, Travessa 14, Cidade Universitária, CEP 05508-900 São Paulo, Brazil

ABSTRACT: The identification of the factors behind the distribution of plant communities in patched habitats may prove useful towards better understanding how ecosystems function. Plant assemblages are especially important for wetland productivity and provide food and habitat to animals. The present study analyses the distribution of a metacommunity of helophytes and phreatophytes in a wetland complex in oder to identify the effects of habitat configuration on the colonisation process. Ponds with wide vegetated shores and a short distance to a big (>10 ha) wetland, had higher species richness. The average percentage of surface covered by each species in all the wetlands correlated positively with the number of patches occupied by that species. Moreover, the community presented a nested pattern (species-poor patches were subsets of species-rich patches), and this pattern came about by selective extinction and colonisation processes. We also detected the presence of some idiosyncratic species that did not follow nestedness. Conservation managers should attempt to maximise the vegetated shore width and to reduce the degree of isolation to enhance species richness. Furthermore, a single large and poorly isolated reserve may have the highest level of biodiversity in emergent vegetation species in this wetland complex, however, the particular ecological requirements of idiosyncratic species should also be taken into account when managing this type of community.

KEY WORDS: Colonization · Extinction · Nestedness · Wetland · Phreatophytes · Helophytes

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Cite this article as: Sebastián-González E, Molina JA, Paracuellos M (2012) Distribution patterns of a marsh vegetation metacommunity in relation to habitat configuration. Aquat Biol 16:277-285

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