• beta diversity;
  • biodiversity;
  • disturbance;
  • floodplain;
  • gastropods;
  • genetic structure


We examined the spatial and temporal variation of species diversity and genetic diversity in a metacommunity comprising 16 species of freshwater gastropods. We monitored species abundance at five localities of the Ain river floodplain in southeastern France, over a period of four years. Using 190 AFLP loci, we monitored the genetic diversity of Radix balthica, one of the most abundant gastropod species of the metacommunity, twice during that period. An exceptionally intense drought occurred during the last two years and differentially affected the study sites. This allowed us to test the effect of natural disturbances on changes in both genetic and species diversity. Overall, local (alpha) diversity declined as reflected by lower values of gene diversity HS and evenness. In parallel, the among-sites (beta) diversity increased at both the genetic (FST) and species (FSTC) levels. These results suggest that disturbances can lead to similar changes in genetic and community structure through the combined effects of selective and neutral processes.