Spatially explicit analyses of gastropod biodiversity in ancient Lake Ohrid

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Abstract

Abstract. Spatial heterogeneity of biodiversity arises from evolutionary processes, constraints of environmental factors and the interaction of communities. The quality of such spatial analyses of biodiversity is improved by (i) utilizing study areas with well defined physiogeographical boundaries, (ii) limiting the impact of widespread species, and (iii) using taxa with heterogeneous distributions. These conditions are typically met by ecosystems such as oceanic islands or ancient lakes and their biota. While research on ancient lakes has contributed significantly to our understanding of evolutionary processes, statistically sound studies of spatial variation of extant biodiversity have been hampered by the frequently vast size of ancient lakes, their limited accessibility, and the lack of infrastructure around them. The small European ancient Lake Ohrid provides a rare opportunity for such a reliable spatial study. The comprehensive horizontal and vertical sampling of a species-rich taxon, the Gastropoda, presented here, revealed interesting patterns of biodiversity, which, in part, have not been shown before for other ancient lakes.

In a total of 224 locations throughout the Ohrid Basin, representatives of 68 gastropod species with 50 of them being endemic (=73.5%) could be reported. The spatial distribution of these species shows the following characteristics:

(i) within Lake Ohrid, the most frequent species are endemic taxa with a wide depth range, (ii) widespread species (i.e. those occurring throughout the Balkans or beyond) are rare and mainly occur in the upper layer of the lake, (iii) while the total number of species decreases with water depth, the share of endemics increases, (iv) the deeper layers of Lake Ohrid appear to have a higher spatial homogeneity of biodiversity and related environmental factors, (v) biotic interaction due to possible spillover effects may contribute to the establishment of hotspots, and (vi) eco-insularity within the Ohrid Basin occurs at two levels, at the level of the lake proper and at the level of the feeder-springs.

It is also shown that large scale effects such as type of water body or water depth are mainly responsible for the distribution of biodiversity. In addition, small scale effects like environmental gradients or biotic interaction affect gastropod composition within a particular depth zone.

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Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Ekologi
Originalspråkengelska
Sidor (från-till)4953-4985
TidskriftBiogeosciences Discussions
Volym7
Utgåva nummer4
StatusPublished - 2010
PublikationskategoriForskning
Peer review utfördJa