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Environmental stability and lake zooplankton diversity – contrasting effects of chemical and thermal variability

Authors

  • Jonathan B. Shurin,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Blvd., Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4
      * E-mail: jshurin@ucsd.edu
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    • Present address: Section of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution, University of California- San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive # 0116, La Jolla, CA 92093-0116. E-mail: jshurin@ucsd.edu

  • Monika Winder,

    1. John Muir Institute of the Environment, Tahoe Environmental Research Center, University of California, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616, USA
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  • Rita Adrian,

    1. Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Müggelseedamm 301, D-12587 Berlin, Germany
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  • Wendel (Bill) Keller,

    1. Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit, Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON, Canada P3E 2C6
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  • Blake Matthews,

    1. EAWAG, Department of Aquatic Ecology, 79 Seestrasse, Kastanienbaum, Switzerland
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  • Andrew M. Paterson,

    1. Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Dorset Environmental Science Centre, 1026 Bellwood Acres Road, Dorset, ON, Canada P0A 1E0
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  • Michael J. Paterson,

    1. Fisheries & Oceans Canada, 501 University Crescent, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3T 2N6
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  • Bernadette Pinel-Alloul,

    1. Département de Sciences Biologiques, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, Succ. Centre ville, Montréal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7
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  • James A. Rusak,

    1. Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Dorset Environmental Science Centre, 1026 Bellwood Acres Road, Dorset, ON, Canada P0A 1E0
    2. Center for Limnology – Trout Lake Station, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Boulder Junction, WI 54512, USA
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  • Norman D. Yan

    1. Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Dorset Environmental Science Centre, 1026 Bellwood Acres Road, Dorset, ON, Canada P0A 1E0
    2. Department of Biology, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada M3J 1P3
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* E-mail: jshurin@ucsd.edu

Abstract

Ecology Letters (2010) 13: 453–463

Abstract

Environmental variability in space and time is a primary mechanism allowing species that share resources to coexist. Fluctuating conditions are a double edged sword for diversity, either promoting coexistence through temporal niche partitioning or excluding species by stochastic extinctions. The net effect of environmental variation on diversity is largely unknown. We examined the association between zooplankton species richness in lakes and environmental variability on interannual, seasonal and shorter time scales, as well as long-term average conditions. We analyzed data on physical, chemical and biological limnology in 53 temperate zone lakes in North America and Europe sampled over a combined 1042 years. Large fluctuations in pH, phosphorus and dissolved organic carbon concentration on different time scales were associated with reduced zooplankton species richness. More species were found in lakes that showed greater temperature variation on all time scales. Environmental variability on different time scales showed similar or, in some cases, stronger associations with zooplankton species richness compared with long-term average conditions. Our results suggest that temporal fluctuations in the chemical environment tend to exclude zooplankton species while temperature variability promotes greater richness. The results indicate that anthropogenic increases in temporal variability of future climates may have profound effects on biodiversity.

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