The scale-dependent effect of environmental filters on species turnover and nestedness in an estuarine benthic community
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Environmental filtering is a major mechanism structuring ecological communities. However, it is still not clear how different abiotic drivers composing the environmental filter interact with each other to determine local species assemblage and create spatial patterns in species distribution. Here, we evaluated the effects of two strong and uncorrelated environmental variables (salinity and sediment properties) on the b-diversity of an estuarine macrobenthic community while accounting for spatial effects. Our results show that the benthic community composition has a strong spatial structure along the estuary, which can be greatly explained by salinity and sediment variation. Salinity is most associated with species replacement (turnover), whereas sediment is more important for species loss (nestedness). However, the effects of sediment variation on nestedness are mainly detected at a smaller spatial scale (estuarine sectors), whereas the effects of salinity on species turnover are stronger as spatial scale increases (entire estuary). Our findings suggest that environmental filters can drive both turnover and nestedness components of b-diversity, but that their relative importance depends on the spatial scale of investigation. Although abiotic drivers associated with detrimental effects (sediment) usually result in nestedness, larger spatial scales encompass abiotic drivers associated with different suitable conditions (salinity), increasing the relative importance of the replacement component of species b-diversity.
xmlui.dri2xhtml.METS-1.0.item-subject-areaCiências Exatas e da Terra
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