Landscape-scale variation in taxonomic diversity in four groups of aquatic organisms: The influence of physical, chemical, and biological properties

Thomas R. Hrabik, Ben K. Greenfield, David B. Lewis, Amina I. Pollard, Karen A. Wilson, Timothy K. Kratz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


We evaluated several factors influencing the taxonomic richness of macrophytes, benthic invertebrates, snails, and fish in a series of northern Wisconsin lakes. We chose the study lakes to decouple the potential effects of ionic strength of lake water and stream connection, two factors that are usually highly correlated and therefore have been confounded in previous studies. In addition, our study lakes covered a wide range in a variety of characteristics, including residential development, abundance of exotic species, nutrient concentrations, predator abundance, and lake size. Species richness within each of the four taxonomic groups was significantly positively related to ionic strength (as measured by specific conductance); we also found secondary associations with other variables, depending on the specific group of organisms. The relationship between richness and lake area was dependent on the specific conductance of the lake and the vagility of the organisms; less vagile groups of organisms showed stronger and steeper species-area relationships in low-conductivity lakes. Further, after variance owing to specific conductance was removed, the presence of stream connections was positively related to species richness for fish, snails, and macrophytes as well as familial richness in benthic invertebrates. Our results indicate that lakes with relatively more groundwater input have lower extinction rates for all four groups of taxa and that lakes with stream inlets and outlets have enhanced immigration rates for fish, snails, benthic invertebrate families, and macrophytes. These findings link processes of immigration and extinction of four groups of organisms of varying vagility to landscape-level hydrologic characteristics related to the glacial history of the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-317
Number of pages17
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Aquatic diversity
  • Groundwater
  • Landscape
  • Northern Wisconsin lakes
  • Species richness
  • Vagility


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