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Flow Directionality: Most Decisive Factor in Structuring Diatom Metacommunity of High Mountain Streams

May 23, 2016     Email"> PrintText Size

The mountains of Southwest China have typical landforms, which breed rich resources and unique patterns of biodiversity. This region is listed as one of the 34 biodiversity hotspots in the world by Conservation International (CI). It is of great importance to conduct research and conserve biodiversity in this area through exploring the community structuring and maintaining mechanism of high mountains. However, it has been poorly understood for streams.

A research team led by Prof. CAI Qinghua from Institute for Hydrobiology (IHB) of Chinese Academy of Sciences has investigated benthic diatoms in high mountain streams (elevation ranges from 1600 to 2900 m a.s.l.) in Southwestern China. They applied spatial models to model all pathways of diatom dispersal, including geographical (overland), topographical (across mountain barriers) and network (along flow direction) pathways. Relative contributions of environmental vs. three dispersal processes were assessed to explore the mechanism of community assembly from a metacommunity perspective.

The results indicated that the directional processes overrided any other effects in structuring and maintaining the communities. It not only shaped directional environmental gradients, but also facilitated dispersal of benthic organisms along stream channels. In addition, dispersal limitation was shown among streams by mountain barriers even at a small scale. For biodiversity conservation, maintaining the instream environmental flow and keeping various habitats among streams are of vital importance in high mountain streams.

The study has been published in Scientific Reports. 

This study was financially supported by Major Science and Technology Program for Water Pollution Control and Treatment (2012ZX07501002-007) and Collaborative Innovation Center for the Biodiversity in the Three Parallel Rivers of China.


(Editor: LIU Jia)


CAI Qinghua

Institute of Hydrobiology

Phone: 86-27-68780865

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