Species-area relationship within benthic habitat patches of a tropical floodplain river: An experimental test
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2015 Ecological Society of Australia. The curvilinear relationship between species richness and habitat area (species-area relationship (SAR)) is a fundamental ecological pattern. The relationship is often viewed from a long-term perspective across relatively large spatial scales, reflecting a balance between immigration and extinction dynamics. We explored whether predictions of SAR also manifest over short time periods (days) in benthic habitat patches of a dynamic floodplain river where littoral faunal assemblages are continuously assembled and disassembled with changing water levels. We examined the relationship of patch size with faunal abundance (i.e. fish and aquatic invertebrates), taxonomic richness, trophic group richness and overall assemblage composition. Strong taxa-area relationships emerged despite the relatively short experimental time period (21 days); larger patches had more taxa and trophic groups. For the smallest patches, taxonomic richness was especially sensitive to abundance of individuals; abundance of individuals was a less important predictor of taxonomic and trophic group richness for the largest patches. Despite the relatively short time frame for study within this temporally dynamic ecosystem, our findings indicate a strong SAR for fishes and macroinvertebrates inhabiting patchy habitats in the littoral zone of this tropical river.