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Context-dependent interactions and the regulation of species richness in freshwater fish

March 8, 2018

Species richness is regulated by a complex network of scale-dependent processes. This complexity can obscure the influence of limiting species interactions, making it difficult to determine if abiotic or biotic drivers are more predominant regulators of richness. Using integrative modeling of freshwater fish richness from 721 lakes along an 11olatitudinal gradient, we find negative interactions to be a relatively minor independent predictor of species richness in lakes despite the widespread presence of predators. Instead, interaction effects, when detectable among major functional groups and 231 species pairs, were strong, often positive, but contextually dependent on environment. These results are consistent with the idea that negative interactions internally structure lake communities but do not consistently ‘scale-up’ to regulate richness independently of the environment. The importance of environment for interaction outcomes and its role in the regulation of species richness highlights the potential sensitivity of fish communities to the environmental changes affecting lakes globally.

Publication Year 2018
Title Context-dependent interactions and the regulation of species richness in freshwater fish
DOI 10.1038/s41467-018-03419-1
Authors Andrew S. MacDougall, Eric Harvey, Jenny L. McCune, Karin A. Nilsson, Joseph Bennett, Jennifer Firn, Timothy Bartley, James B. Grace, Jocelyn Kelly, Tyler D. Tunney, Bailey C. McMeans, Shin-Ichiro S. Matsuzaki, Taku Kadoya, Ellen Esch, Kevin Cazelles, Nigel Lester, Kevin S. McCann
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Nature Communications
Index ID 70195940
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center