Primary succession in man-made wetlands: biodiversity, structure and dynamics of macrofaunal assemblages

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Man-made wetlands are often created to compensate for the loss or degradation of natural wetlands, but little is known about the processes taking place in these artificial environments, especially at the community level. Throughout this thesis, we have assessed the phenomena of primary succession over different time (short-, mid- and long-term) and spatial scales (local, regional, interregional levels), applying different approaches (taxonomic and functional) and subject groups (invertebrates and amphibians). Our main findings regarding time scales show a 3-phase successional pattern in Mediterranean man-made wetlands’ communities, where at the short term (1 year) colonization processes dominate; at mid term perspectives (2 to 7 years) succession signs begin to be conspicuous, and later on (≥ 10 years) parameters such as species richness reach an asymptote. At that moment, some biological strategies dominate, and biodiversity surrogates indicate that communities are indistinct between man-made and natural wetlands. Regarding spatial effects, we corroborated that both local and regional factors affect the establishing communities. Particularly, the low hydrological stability of the Mediterranean region has enhanced biological traits favoring resilience and resistance to disturbances when comparing Mediterranean and cold temperate aquatic communities. Even within the Mediterranean region, low levels of hydrological stability have significant effects on the successional dynamics. In these cases, local communities are highly nested within regional natural ones, and so are not able to make net contributions to regional richness. We also showed the influence of the regional pool of recruiters over local communities, both in the case of invertebrates and amphibians. Especially for the latter group, man-made Mediterranean temporary ponds (MTPs) can play an important role in their conservation. ​
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