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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Ecological correlates of riverine diatom and macroinvertebrate alpha and beta diversity across Arctic Fennoscandia

Brittain, John E.; Heino, Jani; Friberg, Nikolai; Aroviita, Jukka; Kahlert, Maria; Karjalainen, Satu-Maaria; Keck, Francois; Lento, Jennifer; Liljaniemi, Petri; Mykra, Heikki; Schneider, Susanne C.; Ylikorkko, Jukka;


Arctic freshwaters support biota adapted to the harsh conditions at these latitudes, but the climate is changing rapidly and so are the underlying environmental filters. Currently, we have limited understanding of broad-scale patterns of Arctic riverine biodiversity and the correlates of alpha- and beta-diversity. Using information from a database set up within the scope of the Arctic Council's Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Plan, we analysed patterns and correlates of alpha- and beta-diversity in benthic diatom and macroinvertebrate communities across northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland. We analysed variation in total beta-diversity and its replacement and richness difference components in relation to location of the river reach and its drainage basin (Baltic Sea in the south, the Barents Sea in the east and the north, and the Norwegian Sea in the west), in addition to climate and environmental variables. In both macroinvertebrates and diatoms, the replacement and richness difference components showed wide variation. For macroinvertebrates, the richness difference component was the more important, whereas for diatoms, the replacement component was the more important in contributing to variation in beta-diversity. There was no significant difference in beta-diversity between the three main drainage basins, but species composition differed among the drainage basins. Based on the richness difference component of beta-diversity, climate variables were most strongly associated with community variation in macroinvertebrates. In diatoms, both environmental and climate variables were strongly correlated with community compositional variation. In both groups, there were also significant differences in alpha-diversity among the three main drainage basins, and several taxa were significant indicators of one of these drainage basins. Alpha diversity was greater in areas with a continental climate, while the oceanic areas in the west harboured greatly reduced flora and fauna. The correlates of biodiversity were relatively similar in macroinvertebrates and diatoms. Climate variables, in particular temperature, were the most strongly associated with biodiversity patterns in the Arctic rivers of Fennoscandia. Sedimentary geology may be associated with increased productivity and, to a lesser extent, with sensitivity to acidification. There was considerable variation in community composition across Arctic Fennoscandia, indicating the necessity of protecting several stream reaches or even whole catchments within each region to conserve total riverine biodiversity. Furthermore, it is likely that the predicted changes in temperature in Arctic areas will influence riverine diversity patterns across Fennoscandia.


biodiversity; biogeographical patterns; climate; community composition; temperature

Published in

Freshwater Biology

2022, volume: 67, number: 1, pages: 49-63
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Brittain, John E.
University of Oslo
Heino, Jani
Finnish Environment Institute
Friberg, Nikolai
University of Leeds
Friberg, Nikolai
University of Copenhagen
Aroviita, Jukka
Finnish Environment Institute
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Karjalainen, Satu-Maaria
Finnish Environment Institute
Keck, Francois
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Lento, Jennifer
University of New Brunswick
Mykra, Heikki
Finnish Environment Institute
Schneider, Susanne C.
Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

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