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- A framework for investigating general patterns of benthic β-diversity along estuaries
- The description of major patterns in beta (. β) diversity is important in order to understand changes in community composition and/or richness at different spatial and temporal scales, and can interrogate processes driving species distribution and community dynamics. Human impacts have pushed many estuarine systems far from their historical baseline of rich, diverse, and productive ecosystems. Despite the ecological and social importance of estuaries, there has not yet been an attempt to investigate patterns of β-diversity and its partitioning along estuarine systems of different continents. We aimed to evaluate if benthic assemblages would show higher turnover than nestedness in tropical than in temperate systems, if well-known impacted estuaries would show greater nestedness than less polluted systems, and to propose a conceptual framework for studying benthic macrofauna beta diversity along estuaries. We analyzed subtidal benthic macrofaunal data from estuaries in Brazil, USA and France. We estimated alpha (. α), beta (. β) and gamma (. γ) diversity for each sampling time in each system, investigated patterns of β -diversity as multivariate dispersion and the partitioning (nestedness and replacement) of β-diversity along each estuary. There was a decrease in the α-diversity along marine to freshwater conditions at most of the estuaries and sampling dates. Beta diversity as multivariate dispersion showed high variability. Most of the estuaries showed a greater proportion of the β-diversity driven by replacement than nestedness. We suggest a conceptual framework for estuaries where relatively pristine estuaries would have their β-diversity mostly driven by replacement while impacted estuaries subjected to several anthropogenic stressors would show total nestedness or total replacement, depending on the stress.
- Barros, Blanchet, Hammerstrom, Sauriau, Oliver