A prevailing paradigm suggests that species richness increases with area in a decelerating way. This ubiquitous power law scaling, the species–area relationship, has formed the foundation of many conservation strategies. In spatially complex ecosystems, however, the area may not be the sole dimension to scale biodiversity patterns because the scale-invariant complexity of fractal ecosystem structure may drive ecological dynamics in space. Here, we use theory and analysis of extensive fish community data from two distinct geographic regions to show that riverine biodiversity follows a robust scaling law along the two orthogonal dimensions of ecosystem size and complexity (i.e., the dual scaling law). In river networks, the recurrent merging of various tributaries forms fractal branching systems, where the prevalence of branching (ecosystem complexity) represents a macroscale control of the ecosystem’s habitat heterogeneity. In the meantime, ecosystem size dictates metacommunity size and total habitat diversity, two factors regulating biodiversity in nature. Our theory predicted that, regardless of simulated species’ traits, larger and more branched “complex” networks support greater species richness due to increased space and environmental heterogeneity. The relationships were linear on logarithmic axes, indicating power law scaling by ecosystem size and complexity. In support of this theoretical prediction, the power lawsmore »
Riverine floodplains exhibit high floral and faunal diversity as a consequence of their biophysical complexity. Extension of such niche partitioning processes to microbial communities is far less resolved or supported. Here, we evaluated the responses of aquatic biofilms diversity to environmental gradients across ten riverine floodplains with differing degrees of flow alteration and habitat diversity to assess whether complex floodplains support biofilm communities with greater biodiversity and species interactions. No significant evidence was found to support a central role for habitat diversity in promoting microbial diversity across 116 samples derived from 62 aquatic habitats, as neither α (H’: 2.8–4.1) nor β (Sørensen: 0.3–0.39) diversity were positively related to floodplain complexity across the ten floodplains. In contrast, our results documented the sensitivity of biofilm communities to regional templates manifested as gradients of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous availability. Large-scale conditions reflecting nitrogen limitation increased the relative abundance of N-fixing cyanobacteria (up to 0.34 as fraction of total reads), constrained the total number of interactions among bacterial taxa, and reinforced negative over positive interactions, generating unique microbial communities and networks that reflect large-scale species sorting in response to regional geochemical gradients.
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- Scientific Reports
- Nature Publishing Group
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- National Science Foundation
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