On neutral metacommunity patterns of river basins at different scales of aggregation

Matteo Convertino, Rachata Muneepeerakul, Sandro Azaele, Enrico Bertuzzo, Andrea Rinaldo, Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe

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24 Scopus citations


Neutral metacommunity models for spatial biodiversity patterns are implemented on river networks acting as ecological corridors at different resolution. Coarse-graining elevation fields (under the constraint of preserving the basin mean elevation) produce a set of reconfigured drainage networks. The hydrologic assumption made implies uniform runoff production such that each link has the same habitat capacity. Despite the universal scaling properties shown by river basins regardless of size, climate, vegetation, or exposed lithology, we find that species richness at local and regional scales exhibits resolution-dependent behavior. In addition, we investigate species-area relationships and rank-abundance patterns. The slopes of the species-area relationships, which are consistent over coarse-graining resolutions, match those found in real landscapes in the case of long-distance dispersal. The rank-abundance patterns are independent of the resolution over a broad range of dispersal length. Our results confirm that strong interactions occur between network structure and the dispersal of species and that under the assumption of neutral dynamics, these interactions produce resolution-dependent biodiversity patterns that diverge from expectations following from universal geomorphic scaling laws. Both in theoretical and in applied ecology studying how patterns change in resolution is relevant for understanding how ecological dynamics work in fragmented landscape and for sampling and biodiversity management campaigns, especially in consideration of climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberW08424
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


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