Association between temporal and spatial beta diversity in phytoplankton

Published online: 
26 December 2017

Zhang Min, Chen Feizhou, Shi Xiaoli, Yang Zhen, Kong Fanxiang

The rates of temporal and spatial species turnover have been compared in different organisms and scales, revealing that both are not independent but, rather, associated. However, the knowledge is limited for the association between spatial turnover and temporal turnover. Here, we performed two investigations of the phytoplankton composition in the lakes of the Yangtze River catchment in China in the spring and summer of 2012, which covered regional spatial scale and two-season temporal scale. We analysed the association between temporal and spatial species turnover in phytoplankton. The results showed that 1) the two-season temporal turnover of phytoplankton varied based on the mean values and the coefficient of variance of environmental variables, and pH was the most important variable negatively affecting the temporal turnover; 2) the spatial beta diversity of phytoplankton in summer was higher than that in spring, and the distance decay pattern was significant in summer, but not in spring; 3) the variation in spatial turnover in spring and summer was attributed to the primary environmental variables (nitrogen, phosphorus and underwater available light) and broader-scale spatial variables; 4) the proportion of jointly explained variation of spatial Bray–Curtis dissimilarity by the environment and space increased from ~38% (spring) to ~55% (summer), which was mainly due to the variation in spatially structured environmental variables during the two-season temporal turnover, such as pH and ion concentrations; 5) the community compositions in summer were more similar between the lakes with similar two-season temporal turnover. These results indicate that the spatial turnover of phytoplankton composition in summer was partially predetermined by the variation in environmental variables and phytoplankton composition during the process of two-season temporal turnover, and highlight the understanding of temporal variations in spatial beta diversity as well as the underlying assembly mechanisms in phytoplankton.