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15 lake islands and two mainland sites of Mamry lake in Poland were sampled to investigate community structures and patterns of co-occurrences of ground beetles (Carabidae). The total ground beetle metacommunity of 71 species was divided into a group of core species occupying at least half of all study sites and of satellite species, which occurred at two sites or less. This division is mirrored by reduced dispersal abilities and non-random patterns of site occupancy. Core and satellite species also differed in patterns of relative abundance. The core group followed a lognormal distribution, the satellite group a power function as predicted by the self-similarity model of occurrence. We conclude that the division into core and satellite species is not a sample artefact but reflects different life history strategies. We also conclude that current models of niche division and co-occurrence might miss important aspects of community structure if they do not refer to patterns of dispersal.

From these findings we infer that the regional distribution of core species might be shaped by species interactions and processes of niche divisions whereas the spatial distribution of satellite species are best interpreted as stemming from random dispersal.