Impacts of space, local environment and habitat connectivity on macrophyte communities in conservation lakes.
O'Hare, M. T.; Gunn, I. D. M.; Chapman, D. S.; Dudley, B. J.; Purse, B. V.
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0QB, UK.
Diversity and Distributions 2012 Vol. 18 No. 6 pp. 603-614
Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK
Language of Text
Aim: To assess the relative impacts of spatial, local environmental and habitat connectivity on the structure of aquatic macrophyte communities in lakes designated for their conservation value. Location: Selected lakes of conservation importance all over Scotland, representing a wide variety of lake habitat types and associated macrophyte communities. Methods: Local environmental variables and species occurrence were measured in the field. Spatial variables were generated using principal coordinates of neighbour matrices (PCNM) analysis. Connectivity between each lake and its neighbours was defined as either (i) all lakes within a radius of 5, 10, 25, 50, 75 or 100 km; (ii) all lakes in same river system; or (iii) all lakes in the same catchment and upstream of the lake. Using variance partitioning within canonical correspondence analysis, the relative impact of E=local environment, S=space and C=lake connectivity was compared on submerged (n=119 lakes) and emergent (n=96 lakes) macrophyte assemblages. Results: Local environmental conditions, such as total phosphorus, alkalinity/conductivity and the presence of invasive species, as well as spatial gradients were key drivers of observed variation in macrophyte communities; e.g., for submerged macrophytes, a combination of local to moderate factors relating to water chemistry and broad-scale gradients reflecting elevation and climate are important. Spatially structured environmental variables explained a large portion of observed variation. Main conclusions: Our findings confirmed the need to manage local environmental pressures such as eutrophication, but suggested that the traditional catchment approach was insufficient. The spatial aggregation of environmental and connectivity factors indicated that a landscape scale approach should be used in lake management to augment the risk assessment to conservation species from the deterioration of suitable lake sites over broad biogeographic areas.