Do functional or morphological classifications explain stream phytobenthic community assemblages?

Law, Rosemary J.; Elliott, J. Alex; Thackeray, Stephen J.. 2014 Do functional or morphological classifications explain stream phytobenthic community assemblages? Diatom Research, 29 (4). 309-324.

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There are many useful metrics currently available to explain ecological variation within phytobenthic communities. However, most metrics are challenging to use (requiring specialist taxonomic skills and knowledge), limiting their widespread applicability. Furthermore, because most metrics have been developed to represent ecological responses to single pressures, no single metric in isolation can effectively describe complex changes in the state of communities responding to multiple environmental pressures. Understanding of such changes therefore requires the use of multiple metrics to account for the impacts of many environmental pressures. This study explores the potential of functional and morphological classifications to explain phytobenthic community responses to differences in nutrient concentration, current velocity, simulated high flow disturbances and invertebrate grazers. Three previously used phytobenthic classifications and a new metric developed from a phytoplankton classification were tested using two datasets from streams in the north west of England in 2010. A combination of the newly applied morphological classification (using maximum linear dimension, surface area and volume) and a functional classification (using life-forms) showed great potential for aiding the understanding of phytobenthic community responses to environmental pressures. Furthermore, it is suggested that, with further testing, this new classification, which requires less specialist knowledge, could be widely implemented and would potentially give great insight into the ecology of the entire phytobenthic community.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Parr
ISSN: 0269-249X
Additional Keywords: eutrophic, oligotrophic, diatoms, current velocity, biomonitoring,disturbance
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 27 Feb 2015 11:24 +0 (UTC)

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