Headwaters are critical reservoirs of microbial diversity for fluvial networks

Besemer, K., Singer, G., Quince, C., Bertuzzo, E., Sloan, W. and Battin, T. J. (2013) Headwaters are critical reservoirs of microbial diversity for fluvial networks. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, 280(1771), p. 20131760. (doi:10.1098/rspb.2013.1760)

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Abstract

Streams and rivers form conspicuous networks on the Earth and are among nature's most effective integrators. Their dendritic structure reaches into the terrestrial landscape and accumulates water and sediment en route from abundant headwater streams to a single river mouth. The prevailing view over the last decades has been that biological diversity also accumulates downstream. Here, we show that this pattern does not hold for fluvial biofilms, which are the dominant mode of microbial life in streams and rivers and which fulfil critical ecosystem functions therein. Using 454 pyrosequencing on benthic biofilms from 114 streams, we found that microbial diversity decreased from headwaters downstream and especially at confluences. We suggest that the local environment and biotic interactions may modify the influence of metacommunity connectivity on local biofilm biodiversity throughout the network. In addition, there was a high degree of variability in species composition among headwater streams that could not be explained by geographical distance between catchments. This suggests that the dendritic nature of fluvial networks constrains the distributional patterns of microbial diversity similar to that of animals. Our observations highlight the contributions that headwaters make in the maintenance of microbial biodiversity in fluvial networks.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Sloan, Professor William and Quince, Dr Christopher
Authors: Besemer, K., Singer, G., Quince, C., Bertuzzo, E., Sloan, W., and Battin, T. J.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Infrastructure and Environment
Journal Name:Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences
Publisher:The Royal Society
ISSN:0962-8452
ISSN (Online):1471-2954
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2013 The Authors
First Published:First published in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 280(1771):20131760
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
424791Developing theory on the formation, composition and structure of open microbial communities that can be used in engineering designWilliam SloanEngineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/D073693/1ENG - ENGINEERING INFRASTRUCTURE & ENVIR