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Importance of space and the local environment for linking local and regional abundances of microbes

  • Orjan Ostman
  • Stina Drakare
  • Emma Kritzberg
  • Silke Langenheder
  • Jurg B. Logue
  • Eva S. Lindstrom
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Pages: 35-158
Publication/Series: Aquatic Microbial Ecology
Volume: 67
Issue: 1
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Inter-Research

Abstract english

It is frequently observed that the local relative abundances of aquatic microbial taxa are correlated with their average relative abundance at the regional scale, which results in the composition of different communities being more similar than expected by chance or invariant. The degree to which communities within a region match the regional average community is variable and likely depends on several different mechanisms that control the process of microbial community assembly. Here, we show that environmental variables were associated with the community specific degree of regional invariance in 9 of 10 datasets of microbial communities in aquatic systems, being the main set of variables explaining differences in regional invariance in 5 of them. This indicates that variation in local environmental conditions across a region reduces the degree of regional invariance amongst communities. Spatial distances between communities were not related to the degrees of regional invariance, but in 7 of the datasets, regional invariance differed among different parts of the regions, particularly for phytoplankton communities. This suggests an influence of spatial or historical processes on the community specific degree of regional invariance. We conclude that both local environmental conditions and spatial/historical processes cause between-site differences in the degree of invariance between local and regional abundances in aquatic microbial metacommunities. We argue that studies of regional invariance can be an important complement to other statistical methods due to its propensity to detect variation in stochastic processes along gradients.


  • Ecology
  • Metacommunities
  • Regional abundances
  • Invariance
  • Species sorting
  • Composition
  • Stochasticity


  • ISSN: 0948-3055
Emma Kritzberg
E-mail: emma [dot] kritzberg [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

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Aquatic ecology

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Aquatic Ecology


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