US Long-Term Ecological Research Network
Isolation versus extinction in the assembly of fishes in small northern lakes
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To evaluate the roles of extinction and isolation in predicting richness and composition of fish assemblages in small forest lakes of Finland and Wisconsin, we analyzed data from 114 Finnish and 55 Wisconsin lakes 0.2–86.9 ha in area. Six isolation variables characterized properties of stream corridors, land barriers, and source pools of invading species; four extinction variables were related to habitat severity, lake area, and productivity. Two types of multivariate analyses were used: the nonparametric classification and regression trees (CART) and the parametric linear discriminant analysis (LDA). Both types of analyses showed that extinction variables were collectively more important than isolation variables in predicting richness and composition both in Finland and Wisconsin. We interpret that the greater importance of extinction vs. isolation results, not because isolation is unimportant, but because the probability of an arrival of a new species is much less than that of an extinction. Thus, the time after an extinction event before a subsequent invasion is long relative to the time after an invasion event before a subsequent extinction; consequently, fish assemblages sampled at a given point in time more likely represent the stamp of the extinctions than of the invasions. This conclusion was robust to the differences in the geomorphic settings and fish faunas of Finland and Wisconsin. However, the importance of individual isolation and extinction variables in determining richness and composition differed between the two regions, apparently more from differences in geomorphic settings than from differences in fish faunas. Influences of horizontal rather than vertical barriers over land and water were more apparent in Wisconsin, with its lower relief and higher incidence of lakes without stream connections; influences of the area of the nearest lake (representing the size of the available species pool) and stream gradient were more important in Finland, with its higher relief and higher incidence of lakes with stream connections. The importance of individual extinction variables also differed between the two regions, again reflecting differences in the geomorphic settings of the two lake districts and the strong influence that lake position in the landscape has in determining limnological features of the lake.