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Morphologically Cryptic Amphipod Species Are "Ecological Clones" at Regional but Not at Local Scale: A Case Study of Four Niphargus Species.

Fišer Ž, Altermatt F, Zakšek V, Knapič T, Fišer C - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Moreover, low co-occurrence frequencies in sympatric zones imply present or past interspecific competition.This pattern suggests that species are not differentiated enough to reduce interspecific competition, nor ecologically equivalent to co-exist via neutral dynamics.We tentatively conclude that the question of ecological equivalence relates to the scale of the study: at a fine scale, species' differences may influence dynamics in a local community, whereas at the regional level these species likely play roughly similar ecological roles.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Biology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

ABSTRACT
Recent studies indicate that morphologically cryptic species may be ecologically more different than would be predicted from their morphological similarity and phylogenetic relatedness. However, in biodiversity research it often remains unclear whether cryptic species should be treated as ecologically equivalent, or whether detected differences have ecological significance. In this study, we assessed the ecological equivalence of four morphologically cryptic species of the amphipod genus Niphargus. All species live in a small, isolated area on the Istrian Peninsula in the NW Balkans. The distributional ranges of the species are partially overlapping and all species are living in springs. We reconstructed their ecological niches using morphological traits related to feeding, bioclimatic niche envelope and species' preference for epi-hypogean habitats. The ecological meaning of differences in niches was evaluated using distributional data and co-occurrence frequencies. We show that the species comprise two pairs of sister species. All species differ from each other and the degree of differentiation is not related to phylogenetic relatedness. Moreover, low co-occurrence frequencies in sympatric zones imply present or past interspecific competition. This pattern suggests that species are not differentiated enough to reduce interspecific competition, nor ecologically equivalent to co-exist via neutral dynamics. We tentatively conclude that the question of ecological equivalence relates to the scale of the study: at a fine scale, species' differences may influence dynamics in a local community, whereas at the regional level these species likely play roughly similar ecological roles.

No MeSH data available.


Epi-hypogean distribution of the studied species, corrected for geological basement.
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pone.0134384.g003: Epi-hypogean distribution of the studied species, corrected for geological basement.

Mentions: The analysis of epi-hypogean distribution indicates that about one half of records for each species derive from transitional habitats. NKA, NSA and NSB, however, are more common in surface habitats whereas NKB inhabits subterranean habitats more frequently (M2 = 53.8, p = 0.001; Fig 3). Geological basement does not affect the observed, non-random partitioning of habitat type among species.


Morphologically Cryptic Amphipod Species Are "Ecological Clones" at Regional but Not at Local Scale: A Case Study of Four Niphargus Species.

Fišer Ž, Altermatt F, Zakšek V, Knapič T, Fišer C - PLoS ONE (2015)

Epi-hypogean distribution of the studied species, corrected for geological basement.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4520478&req=5

pone.0134384.g003: Epi-hypogean distribution of the studied species, corrected for geological basement.
Mentions: The analysis of epi-hypogean distribution indicates that about one half of records for each species derive from transitional habitats. NKA, NSA and NSB, however, are more common in surface habitats whereas NKB inhabits subterranean habitats more frequently (M2 = 53.8, p = 0.001; Fig 3). Geological basement does not affect the observed, non-random partitioning of habitat type among species.

Bottom Line: Moreover, low co-occurrence frequencies in sympatric zones imply present or past interspecific competition.This pattern suggests that species are not differentiated enough to reduce interspecific competition, nor ecologically equivalent to co-exist via neutral dynamics.We tentatively conclude that the question of ecological equivalence relates to the scale of the study: at a fine scale, species' differences may influence dynamics in a local community, whereas at the regional level these species likely play roughly similar ecological roles.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Biology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

ABSTRACT
Recent studies indicate that morphologically cryptic species may be ecologically more different than would be predicted from their morphological similarity and phylogenetic relatedness. However, in biodiversity research it often remains unclear whether cryptic species should be treated as ecologically equivalent, or whether detected differences have ecological significance. In this study, we assessed the ecological equivalence of four morphologically cryptic species of the amphipod genus Niphargus. All species live in a small, isolated area on the Istrian Peninsula in the NW Balkans. The distributional ranges of the species are partially overlapping and all species are living in springs. We reconstructed their ecological niches using morphological traits related to feeding, bioclimatic niche envelope and species' preference for epi-hypogean habitats. The ecological meaning of differences in niches was evaluated using distributional data and co-occurrence frequencies. We show that the species comprise two pairs of sister species. All species differ from each other and the degree of differentiation is not related to phylogenetic relatedness. Moreover, low co-occurrence frequencies in sympatric zones imply present or past interspecific competition. This pattern suggests that species are not differentiated enough to reduce interspecific competition, nor ecologically equivalent to co-exist via neutral dynamics. We tentatively conclude that the question of ecological equivalence relates to the scale of the study: at a fine scale, species' differences may influence dynamics in a local community, whereas at the regional level these species likely play roughly similar ecological roles.

No MeSH data available.