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Scale-dependent influence of environmental factors on species distribution: a case study on five benthic species in the Baltic Sea
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Marin ekologi)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Marin ekotoxikologi)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Marin ekotoxikologi)
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(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Statistical modelling can be used to relate biological survey data to environmental factors, thereby providing a basis for predictive mapping of species or communities. However, there has been little discussion about the effect of scale on the predictive power of the variables used for species prediction. In this study, we analysed if the relative importance of environmental factors for the distribution of aquatic species was scale dependent, using data on the cover of five common benthic species (four macrophytes and one animal), from 1731 sites along the Swedish Baltic Sea coast. We modelled the cover and distribution of the five species in relation to salinity, depth, slope, wave exposure and substrate in scale steps from 25 to 1500 km, and analysed the relative contribution of the environmental variables to each species model. The average total deviance explained by the models was generally quite high, and decreased with increasing scale for all macrophyte species, while it increased for the animal, the Baltic Sea blue mussel, Mytilus edulis. The average contribution of salinity increased for all species when moving from local to Baltic Sea scale, and for the Baltic Sea blue mussel it was the single most important factor at the Baltic Sea scale. The average contribution of depth decreased with increasing scale for all species. However, regardless of scale, depth was the most important environmental factor to explain the distribution of all but one of the investigated macrophyte species. The relative contribution of different environmental variables changed with scale, and responses also differed between species. Factors measured on a fine scale, and thus describing local conditions were more influential at the local scale, whereas the large scale salinity gradient increased in importance with scale.

National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Marine Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-54354OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-54354DiVA: diva2:393435
Available from: 2011-01-31 Created: 2011-01-31 Last updated: 2011-01-31Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Modelling spatial and temporal species distribution in the Baltic Sea phytobenthic zone
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Modelling spatial and temporal species distribution in the Baltic Sea phytobenthic zone
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Statistical modelling is often used to relate the presence or abundance of species to environmental predictors, thereby providing a basis for predictive mapping of species or biodiversity. The variables included must thus be relevant and reflect actual changes in the environment. Therefore, the quantification of species–environment relationships is an important aspect of predictive modelling.

This thesis examines how phytobenthic species or communities in the Baltic Sea relate to environmental gradients, and if different aspects of phytobenthic species distribution in the Baltic Sea could be explained by spatial or temporal variation in environmental factors. Predictive distribution modelling usually focuses on how environmental variables control the distribution of species or communities. Thus the relative weight of the predictor variables on different scales is of importance. In this thesis, I show that the relative importance of environmental variables depends both on geographic scale and location, and that it also differs between species or species groups.

There are no simple explanations to the temporal variability in species occurrence. I here show that the temporal changes in species distribution within the phytobentic zone varies in a spatial context. I also try to find temporal and spatio-temporal patterns in species distribution that could be related to changes in climate or anthropogenic disturbance. However, the findings in this thesis suggest that single factor explanations are insufficient for explaining large-scale changes in species distribution. A greater understanding of the relationship between species and their environment will lead to the development of more sensitive models of species distributions. The predictions can be used to visualise spatial changes in the distribution of plant and animal communities over time.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, 2011. 38 p.
Keyword
species distribution modelling, niche, gradient, prediction, environmental factors, phytobenthos, scale
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Marine Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-54269 (URN)978-91-7447-230-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-03-04, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 09:30 (English)
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Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Submitted. Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript. Paper 5: Manuscript.Available from: 2011-02-10 Created: 2011-01-27 Last updated: 2011-01-31Bibliographically approved

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