Concordance of taxonomic composition patterns across multiple lake assemblages: Effects of scale, body size, and land use

Andrew P. Allen*, Thomas R. Whittier, David P. Larsen, Philip R. Kaufmann, Raymond J. O'Connor, Robert M. Hughes, Richard S. Stemberger, Sushil S. Dixit, Ralph O. Brinkhurst, Alan T. Herlihy, Steven G. Paulsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Citations (Scopus)


We assessed environmental gradients and the extent to which they induced concordant patterns of taxonomic composition among benthic macroinvertebrate, riparian bird, sedimentary diatom, fish, and pelagic zooplankton assemblages in 186 northeastern U.S.A. lakes. Human population density showed a close correspondence to this region's dominant environmental gradient. This reflected the constraints imposed by climate and geomorphology on land use and, in turn, the effects of land use on the environment (e.g., increasing lake productivity). For the region as a whole, concordance was highest among assemblages whose taxa were relatively similar in body size. The larger-bodied assemblages (benthos, birds, fish) were correlated most strongly with factors of broader scale (climate, forest composition) than the diatoms and zooplankton (pH, lake depth). Assemblage concordance showed little or no relationship to body size when upland and lowland subregions were examined separately. This was presumably because differences in the scales at which each assemblage integrated the environment were obscured more locally. The larger-bodied assemblages showed stronger associations with land use than the diatoms and zooplankton. This occurred, in part, because they responded more strongly to broad-scale, nonanthropogenic factors that also affected land use. We argue, however, that the larger-bodied assemblages have also been more severely affected by human activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2029-2040
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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