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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Local habitat is a strong determinant of spatial and temporal patterns of macrophyte diversity and composition in boreal lakes

Johnson, Richard K.; Toprak, Vildan


Macrophyte species and trait assemblages from 104 minimally disturbed boreal forest lakes, covering broad environmental and geographic gradients were analysed to identify associations with environmental variables at different spatial scales: geographic context (GEO) and catchment (CATCH) and lake (LOCAL) characteristics.Constrained ordination and variation partitioning were used to quantify variation in species (canonical correspondence analysis [CCA] and pCCA) and trait (redundancy analysis [RDA] and pRDA) compositions that could be explained by environmental variables, and to rank the main environmental factors associated with spatial and temporal patterns.Diversity and assemblage composition correlated with spatial context and variables related to the length of the growing season, catchment forest type and with lake characteristics such as ecosystem size, lake productivity and alkalinity.Variation partitioning showed that lake characteristics alone explained 53% (species) and 73.5% (traits) of the variability in macrophyte assemblages. Contrary to predictions, the shared variance component between latitude and catchment forest type (GEO&CATCH < 0.1% for both species and traits) and between latitude and lake characteristics (GEO&LOCAL = 6.7% for species and 3.9% for traits) was low.Temporal variability, measured as changes in species richness, diversity and a pollution-specific index (the Trophic Macrophyte Index), using a subset of the lakes sampled on two occasions (19 lakes sampled in 2012 and 2018 and five lakes sampled in 2013 and 2019) did not differ (p > 0.05, paired t-test). Ordination showed that among-year variability in macrophyte assemblage composition was also negligible (0.3%) compared to the variability explained by GEO, CATCH and LOCAL variables. Combined, these findings indicate low species turnover in the boreal lakes of our study.Responses of macrophyte species and trait assemblages and the TMI index were predictable and significantly correlated with lake characteristics associated with nutrient enrichment (Chl a, nutrients) and alkalinity supporting their use in monitoring eutrophication of boreal lakes.


land use; ordination; primary producer; species and trait composition; variation partitioning

Published in

Freshwater Biology
2021, Volume: 66, number: 8, pages: 1490-1501
Publisher: WILEY

    Associated SLU-program

    Lakes and watercourses
    Use of FOMA data

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG15 Life on land

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