|Title||Towards understanding the organisation of metacommunities in highly dynamic ecological systems|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2015|
|Authors||Datry, T, Bonada, N, Heino, J|
ABSTRACT: Community ecology recognises today that local biological communities are not only affected by local biotic interactions and abiotic environmental conditions, but also by regional processes (e.g. dispersal). While much is known about how metacommunities are organised in space in terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecological systems, their temporal variations remain poorly studied. Here, we address the question of the dynamics of metacommunities in highly variable systems, using intermittent rivers (IRs), those rivers which temporarily stop flowing or dry up, as a model system. We first review how habitat heterogeneity in space and time influences metacommunity organisation. Second, we compare the metacommunities in IRs to those in perennial rivers (PRs) and develop the idea that IRs could undergo highly dynamic shifts due to the temporal variability in local and regional community processes. Third, we develop the idea that in IRs, metacommunities of the wet and dry phases of IRs are closely intertwined, thereby increasing even more their respective temporal dynamics. Last, we provide a roadmap to stimulate further conceptual and empirical developments of metacommunity research and identify possible applications for improving the management of IRs and other highly dynamic ecological systems.