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Explaining the variance of local communities in a spatial-environmental matrix is one of the core interests of ecology today. Recent progress in metacommunity theory has made a substantial contribution to this field, however good empirical data in support of available theories are still relatively scarce. In this study we sampled a cluster of 36 temporary rock pools four times during one season to assess invertebrate metacommunity structure and dynamics and to search for steering processes and variables. Both Mantel tests and redundancy models indicate that local abiotic factors were dominant over spatial factors in explaining community structure and both were acting independently. Spatial variables were only important for passive dispersers and significantly explained 11% of variation in this community component. Pools connected by temporary overflows hosted more similar communities of passive dispersers than unconnected ones while community dissimilarity significantly increased with inter-pool distance. A negative curvilinear relation was discovered between taxon richness and isolation in passive dispersers, providing some support for existing theoretical models of Mouquet and Loreau. Of different metacommunity perspectives, a combination of species sorting and mass effects best explains the observed patterns. Additionally, priority effects and monopolization may buffer against the homogenising effects of dispersal and contribute to the distinctness of isolated communities. This is one of the first studies to present evidence for spatial patterns in aquatic communities on such a small spatial scale (a rock ledge of ±9000 m2). Bridging the gap between theory and observed patterns in natural systems is one of the main challenges for future metacommunity research. Small aquatic habitats such as pitcher plants and freshwater rock pools may well have an important role to play as model systems to study ecological processes in a natural spatially explicit environment.