Species richness and the proportion of predatory animal species in temporary freshwater pools: relationships with habitat size and permanence

Authors


Matthew Spencer E-mail: spencer@research.haifa.ac.il

Abstract

The proportion of predatory animal species is often believed not to vary systematically across communities. However, we predict that larger temporary freshwater pools, and pools that are more permanent, will contain a higher proportion of predatory animal species. In 24 temporary rockpools in Northern Israel (supporting communities dominated by ostracods, copepods, cladocerans, flatworms, dipterans and amphibians), the mean proportion of macroscopic predatory species (averaged over a series of samples) increased with increasing pool area. For the highest possible proportion of predatory species (including microscopic species with uncertain diets), the relationship with pool area was not statistically significant. We did not find significant relationships between permanence and the proportion of either macroscopic or all possible predatory species. Larger pools and pools that were more permanent had more species. Species richness and the proportion of macroscopic predators were positively correlated. These patterns imply that species-poor ecosystems are likely to be functionally different from species-rich systems.

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