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Community metabarcoding reveals the relative role of environmental filtering and dispersal in metacommunity dynamics of soil microarthropods across a mosaic of montane forests
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  • Victor Noguerales,
  • Emmanouil Meramveliotakis,
  • Adrián Castro-Insua,
  • Carmelo Andujar,
  • Paula Arribas,
  • Thomas Creedy,
  • Isaac Overcast,
  • Hélène Morlon,
  • Brent Emerson,
  • Alfried Vogler,
  • Anna Papadopoulou​
Victor Noguerales
University of Cyprus
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Emmanouil Meramveliotakis
University of Cyprus
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Adrián Castro-Insua
University of Cyprus
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Carmelo Andujar
Instituto de Productos Naturales y Agrobiología
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Paula Arribas
Instituto de Productos Naturales y Agrobiología
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Thomas Creedy
Natural History Museum
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Isaac Overcast
Institut de Biologie de l'ENS (IBENS)
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Hélène Morlon
Institut de Biologie de l'ENS (IBENS)
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Brent Emerson
Instituto de Productos Naturales y Agrobiología
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Alfried Vogler
Natural History Museum
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Anna Papadopoulou​
University of Cyprus
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Abstract

Disentangling the relative role of environmental filtering and dispersal limitation in driving metacommunity structure across mountainous regions remains challenging, as the way we quantify spatial connectivity in topographically and environmentally heterogeneous landscapes can influence our perception of which process predominates. More empirical datasets are required to account for taxon- and context-dependency but relevant research is often compromised by coarse taxonomic resolution. We here employed haplotype-level community DNA metabarcoding, enabled by stringent filtering of Amplicon Sequence Variants (ASVs), to characterize metacommunity structure of soil microarthropod assemblages across a mosaic of five forest habitats on the Troodos mountain range in Cyprus. We found similar β diversity patterns at ASV and species (OTU, Operational Taxonomic Unit) levels, which pointed to a primary role of habitat filtering resulting in the existence of largely distinct metacommunities linked to different forest types. Within-habitat turnover was correlated to topoclimatic heterogeneity, again emphasizing the role of environmental filtering. However, when integrating landscape matrix information for the highly fragmented Golden Oak habitat, we also detected a major role of dispersal limitation imposed by patch connectivity, indicating that stochastic and niche-based processes synergistically govern community assembly. Alpha diversity patterns varied between ASV and OTU levels, with OTU richness decreasing with elevation and ASV richness following a longitudinal gradient, potentially reflecting a decline of genetic diversity eastwards due to historical pressures. Our study demonstrates the utility of haplotype-level community metabarcoding for characterising metacommunity structure of complex assemblages and improving our understanding of biodiversity dynamics across mountainous landscapes worldwide.

Peer review status:UNDER REVIEW

16 Jun 2021Submitted to Molecular Ecology
17 Jun 2021Assigned to Editor
17 Jun 2021Submission Checks Completed
30 Jun 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned