Browsing by Subject "MODEL SYSTEMS"

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  • Mammola, Stefano; Piano, Elena; Cardoso, Pedro; Vernon, Philippe; Dominguez-Villar, David; Culver, David C.; Pipan, Tanja; Isaia, Marco (2019)
    Scientists of different disciplines have recognized the valuable role of terrestrial caves as ideal natural laboratories in which to study multiple eco-evolutionary processes, from genes to ecosystems. Because caves and other subterranean habitats are semi-closed systems characterized by a remarkable thermal stability, they should also represent insightful systems for understanding the effects of climate change on biodiversity in situ. Whilst a number of recent advances have demonstrated how promising this fast-moving field of research could be, a lack of synthesis is possibly holding back the adoption of caves as standard models for the study of the recent climatic alteration. By linking literature focusing on physics, geology, biology and ecology, we illustrate the rationale supporting the use of subterranean habitats as laboratories for studies of global change biology. We initially discuss the direct relationship between external and internal temperature, the stability of the subterranean climate and the dynamics of its alteration in an anthropogenic climate change perspective. Owing to their evolution in a stable environment, subterranean species are expected to exhibit low tolerance to climatic perturbations and could theoretically cope with such changes only by shifting their distributional range or by adapting to the new environmental conditions. However, they should have more obstacles to overcome than surface species in such shifts, and therefore could be more prone to local extinction. In the face of rapid climate change, subterranean habitats can be seen as refugia for some surface species, but at the same time they may turn into dead-end traps for some of their current obligate inhabitants. Together with other species living in confined habitats, we argue that subterranean species are particularly sensitive to climate change, and we stress the urgent need for future research, monitoring programs and conservation measures.
  • Teittinen, Anette; Virta, Leena; Li, Mingjia; Wang, Jianjun (2021)
    Islands provide ideal model systems to examine the factors influencing biodiversity, yet knowledge of microbial biodiversity on islands remains scarce. We collected a dataset from 101 rock pools along a freshwater to brackish water transition on islands of the Baltic Sea and investigated the patterns and drivers of community composition and species richness of diatoms, cyanobacteria and non-cyanobacteria bacteria among islands. We also examined whether environmental heterogeneity increased beta diversity and species richness within islands. Among islands, the patterns in community composition were concordant among the microbial groups, with distinct changes along the freshwater-brackish gradient. The patterns in species richness were context-dependent for each microbial group. In general, richness patterns were most strongly associated with nutrient concentrations or the distances to potential sources of immigrants, whereas no positive relationships between ecosystem size and richness were found. Within islands, environmental heterogeneity was positively correlated with the beta diversity of each microbial group, but not species richness. Our findings provide novel insights into the factors influencing microbial biodiversity. The results suggest that island microbial biodiversity patterns are influenced by species sorting and dispersal-related mechanisms and highlight the importance of environmental heterogeneity for beta diversity.
  • Aarnio, Sonja; Teittinen, Anette; Soininen, Janne (2019)
    Different metacommunity perspectives have been developed to describe the relationship between environmental and spatial factors and their relative roles for local communities. However, only little is known about temporal variation in metacommunities and their underlying drivers. We examined temporal variation in the relative roles of environmental and spatial factors for diatom community composition among brackish-watered rock pools on the Baltic Sea coast over a 3-month period. We used a combination of direct ordination, variation partition, and Mantel tests to investigate the metacommunity patterns. The studied communities housed a mixture of freshwater, brackish, and marine species, with a decreasing share of salinity tolerant species along both temporal and spatial gradients. The community composition was explained by both environmental and spatial variables (especially conductivity and distance from the sea) in each month; the joint effect of these factors was consistently larger than the pure effects of either variable group. Community similarity was related to both environmental and spatial distance between the pools even when the other variable group was controlled for. The relative influence of environmental factors increased with time, accounting for the largest share of the variation in species composition and distance decay of similarity in July. Metacommunity organization in the studied rock pools was probably largely explained by a combination of species sorting and mass effect given the small spatial study scale. The found strong distance decay of community similarity indicates spatially highly heterogeneous diatom communities mainly driven by temporally varying conductivity gradient at the marine-freshwater transition zone.
  • Aarnio, Sonja; Soininen, Janne (2021)
    Local biodiversity has traditionally been estimated with taxonomic diversity metrics such as species richness. Recently, the concept of biodiversity has been extended beyond species identity by ecological traits determining the functional role of a species in a community. This interspecific functional diversity typically responds more strongly to local environmental variation compared with taxonomic diversity, while taxonomic diversity may mirror more strongly dispersal processes compared with functional metrics. Several trait-based indices have been developed to measure functional diversity for various organisms and habitat types, but studies of their applicability on aquatic microbial communities have been underrepresented. We examined the drivers and covariance of taxonomic and functional diversity among diatom rock pool communities on the Baltic Sea coast. We quantified three taxonomic (species richness, Shannon's diversity, and Pielou's evenness) and three functional (functional richness, evenness, and divergence) diversity indices and determined abiotic factors best explaining variation in these indices by generalized linear mixed models. The six diversity indices were highly collinear except functional evenness, which merely correlated significantly with taxonomic evenness. All diversity indices were always explained by water conductivity and temperature-sampling month interaction. Taxonomic diversity was further consistently explained by pool distance to the sea, and functional richness and divergence by pool location. The explained variance in regression models did not markedly differ between taxonomic and functional metrics. Our findings do not clearly support the superiority of neither set of diversity indices in explaining coastal microbial diversity, but rather highlight the general overlap among the indices. However, as individual metrics may be driven by different factors, the greatest advantage in assessing biodiversity is nevertheless probably achieved with a simultaneous application of the taxonomic and functional diversity metrics.