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Can long term changes of phytobenthic species be explained by climate or anthropogenic factors? A model approach based on monitoring data
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Marin ekologi)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Marin ekotoxikologi)
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In long term monitoring programmes it is important to distinguish between natural and anthropogenic changes. In the Baltic Sea, observed long term changes of the plant and animal communities have traditionally been explained by anthropogenic influence, while the natural fluctuations due to reoccurring climatic cycles was ignored. However, in recent years also the role of large scale climatic fluctuations for species distribution is discussed.

In this study four aquatic species with different life-history and distribution were modelled, using data from the years 1994 to 2007. The data were collected annually within the Swedish national monitoring programme of the northern Baltic proper. We analysed the occurrence of the annual or pseudoannual algae species Cladophora glomerata and Ceramium tenuicorne, the perennial algae Fucus vesiculosus and the phanerogame Potamogeton pectinatus to see if there was a temporal or spatial pattern that could be explained by climate or anthropogenic influence. The climate indices the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Baltic Sea Index (BSI) was used as environmental variables in the analysis, together with water temperature, nutrient concentrations and chlorophyll-a content. As the effect of the climate variables might not show until the next growing season or later, the species distribution data were correlated to the environmental factors with a time-lag of 0 to 3 years. To find the large-scale variable that best explained the temporal variation of each species, Akaikes Information Criterion (AIC) was used to select the best model.

The annual alga Cladophora glomerata was best modelled by the concentration in the pelagic system of total nitrogen in April the same year. The correlation between Cladophora glomerata and total nitrogen was negative in areas where the predicted probability of species occurrence was high. The phanerogam Potamogeton pectinatus was best modelled by the temperature in November two years prior to sampling. The correlation between Potamogeton pectinatus and temperature in November two years prior to sampling was negative on sandy substrates, which was also where the predicted probability of species occurrence was high. For the pseudoannual alga Ceramium tenuicorne the variation in occurrence was best explained by the chlorophyll-a concentration in September two years prior to sampling, but the results were inconclusive. The inter-annual variation of the bladder-wrack Fucus vesiculosus was not well explained by any of the parameters chosen.

Our results indicated that on the time-scale of 15 years, single environmental variables are insufficient for explaining the spatial variability of phytobenthic species. The results also indicate that the phytobenthic system is roubust to the regular climatic variations as manifested in the NAO- and the BSI-cycles, since they only to a limited extent influence the species occurrence in the area.

National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Marine Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-54357OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-54357DiVA: diva2:393443
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)
Opponent
Supervisors
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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