Stunkle, C., Davidson, A. T., Shuart, W. J., McCoy, M. W., & Vonesh, J. R. (2021). Taxa specific responses to flooding shape patterns of abundance in river rock pools.
Connectivity and patch size are important landscape characteristics that drive patterns of abundance and diversity across scales. However, responses to connectivity and patch size are dependent on species traits. Riverine landscapes are highly dynamic both spatially and temporally, with hydrologic connectivity being a major driver of abundance and diversity. Here we modeled the densities of 2 taxa that differ in life history and dispersal ability, the Virginia River Snail (Elimia virginica) and skimmer dragonfly larvae (Pantala spp.), as a function of flooding, patch area, and season in >300 riverine rock pools. We found key differences in how each taxon responded to these predictors. Specifically, increasing pool flood height had a strong negative effect on snail densities, whereas dragonfly nymph densities increased as pools became isolated from the river channel for longer durations of time. Increasing pool surface area had a positive effect on snail densities, whereas dragonfly nymph densities showed no such relationship. Dragonfly nymph densities were greater in summer and autumn than in spring, but snails showed no difference in their temporal distribution across seasons. Our study highlights how differential responses to landscape characteristics are dependent on organism traits. These findings give insight into patterns of abundance and diversity across spatiotemporal scales.