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Title: Dynamics in species composition of stream fish assemblages: environmental variability and nested subsets

Author: Taylor, Christopher M.; Warren, Melvin L. Jr.;

Date: 2001

Source: Ecology. 82(8): 2320-2330.

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: Stream landscapes are highly variable in space and time and, like terrestrial landscapes, the resources they contain are patchily distributed. Organisms may disperse among patches to fulfill life-history requirements, but biotic and abiotic factors may limit patch or locality occupancy. Thus, the dynamics of immigration and extinction determine, in part, the local structure of assemblages. We sampled fishes and stream habitat at 12 localities for two years (96 samples) to examine the deterministic nature of immigration and extinction processes in stream fish assemblages. Mean immigration rates for assemblages were highest at large stream localities, where the pool of potential immigrants was largest. Mean extinction rates were highest where variability in the flow regime was high, though local refugia appeared to modify the extinction process at one locality. Significant nested subset patterns in species composition occurred over time for 7 of the 12 localities. The strength of the nesting was associated with mean immigration and extinction rates. Higher extinction rates corresponded to stronger nestedness, whereas higher immigration rates were associated with weaker nestedness. Across all species, both immigration and extinction rates were strongly associated with mean abundance. Species with high local abundances had higher immigration rates and lower extinction rates than did species with low local abundances. There were no significant associations between trophic guild or body size and immigration and extinction rate. This work supports the hypothesis that immigration and extinction rates for assemblages are predictable along environmental gradients, and that species are less prone to local extinction and more prone to colonize areas when they maintain high local abundances. The extinction process in local assemblages can be a highly ordered event leading to strong nested subset patterns, but immigration appears to be more stochastic.

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Taylor, Christopher M.; Warren, Melvin L., Jr. 2001. Dynamics in species composition of stream fish assemblages: environmental variability and nested subsets. Ecology. 82(8): 2320-2330.


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