Community structure in mediterranean shallow lentic ecosystems: size-based vs. taxon-based approaches

The main environmental variables determining the community structure and the functioning of Mediterranean shallow lentic ecosystems are described. These ecosystems are characterized by the unpredictability of their water inputs and the high variability in their water level and physical and chemical composition. Variations in flooding, salinity, and water turnover are determinant in species composition and nutrient dynamics. Taxon-based and size-based approaches to the study of the community structure of aquatic organisms that colonise these ecosystems are also compared. The conventional taxonomic approach, based on the determination of species composition, has been used for the identification of patterns in species richness, distribution and temporal dynamics, and for ecological requirements of species and their potential use as ecological indicators. This taxonbased approach has been compared with a size-based approach, where individuals are classified by their size. Size-based approach gives complementary information about community structure and dynamics, especially when communities are dominated by a single species. The use of size diversity combined with species diversity is suggested for a more complete understanding of community structuring in this type of ecosystem. Detailed examples of two Mediterranean shallow lentic ecosystems, the salt marshes of the Empordà wetlands and the Espolla temporary karstic pond, which differ in hydrology and water origin, are used to discuss the suitability of these different approaches ​
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