Functional and Phylogenetic Relatedness in Temporary Wetland Invertebrates: Current Macroecological Patterns and Implications for Future Climatic Change Scenarios

In freshwater ecosystems, species compositions are known to be determined hierarchically by large to small-scale environmental factors, based on the biological traits of the organisms. However, in ephemeral habitats this heuristic framework remains largely untested. Although temporary wetland faunas are constrained by a local filter (i.e., desiccation), we propose its magnitude may still depend on large-scale climate characteristics. If this is true, climate should be related to the degree of functional and taxonomic relatedness of invertebrate communities inhabiting seasonal wetlands. We tested this hypothesis in two ways. First, based on 52 biological traits for invertebrates, we conducted a case study to explore functional trends among temperate seasonal wetlands differing in the harshness (i.e., dryness) of their dry season. After finding evidence of trait filtering, we addressed whether it could be generalized across a broader climatic scale. To this end, a meta-analysis (225 seasonal wetlands spread across broad climatic categories: Arid, Temperate, and Cold) allowed us to identify whether an equivalent climate-dependent pattern of trait richness was consistent between the Nearctic and the Western Palearctic. Functional overlap of invertebrates increased from mild (i.e., Temperate) to harsher climates (i.e., Arid and Cold), and phylogenetic clustering (using taxonomy as a surrogate) was highest in Arid and lowest in Temperate wetlands. We show that, (i) as has been described in streams, higher relatedness than would be expected by chance is generally observed in seasonal wetland invertebrate communities; and (ii) this relatedness is not constant but climate-dependent, with the climate under which a given seasonal wetland is located determining the functional overlap and the phylogenetic clustering of the community. Finally, using a space-for-time substitution approach we suggest our results may anticipate how the invertebrate biodiversity embedded in these vulnerable and often overlooked ecosystems will be affected by long-term climate change ​
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