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How pondscapes function: Connectivity matters for biodiversity even across small spatial scales in aquatic metacommunities
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  • Barbara Barta,
  • Attila Szabó,
  • Beáta Szabó,
  • Robert Ptacnik,
  • Zsófia Horváth,
  • Csaba Vad
Barbara Barta
Centre for Ecological Research

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Attila Szabó
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
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Beáta Szabó
Centre for Ecological Research
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Robert Ptacnik
WasserCluster Lunz
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Zsófia Horváth
Centre for Ecological Research
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Csaba Vad
Centre for Ecological Research
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Habitat loss and fragmentation are growing global threats to natural habitats and their networks, posing significant challenges to biodiversity conservation. Among the most vulnerable ecosystems, ponds stand out due to their small sizes exhibiting global declines in numbers and extent. While it is generally agreed that connectivity in habitat networks is crucial for sustaining biodiversity, the effect of connectivity on biodiversity patterns over small-scaled habitat networks has so far received less attention given the general assumption that metacommunities lack spatial structuring on small scales. In this study, we tested whether this holds for multiple passively and actively dispersing organism groups in a well-delineated pond metacommunity of 54 bomb crater ponds situated within 1 km. We investigated the influence of space and environment on species richness and metacommunity structure in these ponds, which share similar age, size, and shape and are subject to strong environmental gradients, making it an ideal study system. We specifically examined the impact of network centrality on species richness and eigenvector-based spatial arrangement on metacommunity structure across different organism groups, including prokaryotes, microeukaryotes, zooplankton, macroinvertebrates, and amphibians. We found that while environmental filtering is the primary driver of community dynamics, there is also a significant spatial signal, particularly for passively dispersing groups, demonstrating the role of the central-peripheral connectivity gradient. These findings highlight the importance of studying and protecting ponds as parts of a network rather than focusing on individual ponds.
02 Jun 2023Submitted to Ecography
02 Jun 2023Submission Checks Completed
02 Jun 2023Assigned to Editor
02 Jun 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
05 Jun 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
20 Jul 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
25 Aug 20231st Revision Received
28 Aug 2023Assigned to Editor
28 Aug 2023Submission Checks Completed
28 Aug 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
03 Sep 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
29 Sep 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
02 Oct 20232nd Revision Received
02 Oct 2023Assigned to Editor
02 Oct 2023Submission Checks Completed
02 Oct 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
09 Oct 2023Editorial Decision: Accept