Concordance of taxonomic richness patterns across multiple assemblages in lakes of the northeastern United States

Andrew P. Allen*, Thomas R. Whittier, Philip R. Kaufmann, David P. Larsen, 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

92 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated the concordance of taxonomic richness patterns and their environmental correlates for assemblages of benthic macroinvertebrates, riparian birds, sedimentary diatoms, fish, planktonic crustaceans, and planktonic rotifers in 186 northeastern U.S. lakes. Taxon counts were standardized with respect to sampling effort using rarefaction. The degree of concordance among assemblage richness measures was low, but this was at least partly attributable to measurement precision. Aspects of lake morphology (area, depth) superseded other environmental features (climate, human development, water chemistry, nearshore physical habitat) as correlates of assemblage richness and were the strongest source of concordance. The benthic macroinvertebrates, birds, fish, and zooplankton all showed positive associations between richness and lake area. The diatoms showed negligible associations between richness and area and negative associations between richness and depth. Associations with human development were much weaker than with lake morphology and varied from positive (fish, planktonic crustaceans) to negative (diatoms). We conclude that taxonomic richness alone may be of ambiguous value as an indicator of biological integrity in lakes and that its natural drivers must be controlled for prior to assessing anthropogenic effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-747
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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