Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

How pondscapes function: connectivity matters for biodiversity even across small spatial scales in aquatic metacommunities

Barta, Barbara; Szabo, Attila; Szabo, Beata; Ptacnik, Robert; Vad, Csaba F.; Horvath, Zsofia


Habitat loss and fragmentation are growing global threats to natural habitats and their networks, posing significant challenges to biodiversity conservation. Globally, ponds are sharply declining in number because their small size makes them highly vulnerable to land use changes. While it is generally agreed that connectivity in habitat networks is crucial for sustaining biodiversity, the effect of connectivity on biodiversity patterns over small-scaled habitat networks has so far received less attention given the general assumption that metacommunities lack spatial structuring on small scales. In this study, we tested whether this holds for multiple passively and actively dispersing organism groups in a well-delineated pond metacommunity of 54 bomb crater ponds situated within 1 km. We investigated the influence of space and environment on species richness and metacommunity structure in these ponds, which share similar age, size, and shape and are subject to strong environmental gradients, making it an ideal study system. We specifically examined the impact of network centrality on taxonomic richness and eigenvector-based spatial arrangement on metacommunity structure across different organism groups, including prokaryotes, microeukaryotes, zooplankton, macroinvertebrates, and amphibians. We found that while environmental filtering is the primary driver of community dynamics, there is also a significant spatial signal, particularly for passively dispersing groups, demonstrating the role of the central-peripheral connectivity gradient. These findings highlight the importance of studying and protecting ponds as parts of a network rather than focusing on individual ponds.


centrality; dispersal; invertebrates; multi-group; spatial network; zooplankton

Published in

2024, Volume: 2024, number: 2, article number: e06960Publisher: WILEY

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG14 Life below water
    SDG15 Life on land

    UKÄ Subject classification


    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)