Frequent dispersal events are expected to elevate local species richness in island-like habitats such as lakes. However, the importance of dispersal can be hard to evaluate if other factors cause large background variability in species composition and richness. In this paper, we review empirical studies on ecological factors known or expected to influence species richness in zooplankton communities of inland lakes. We then present summaries of two recent case studies. Our objectives are twofold: we first look for effects of biotic interactions on species richness and species composition, and then evaluate whether the expected effects of dispersal are likely to be detected on a background of large variability caused by other ecological factors and interactions. Species richness within lakes appears to be primarily controlled by factors related to lake size, lake productivity, water quality, and fish predation levels. One case study indicated a slight, but significant, positive effect of lake density and lake area in the surrounding landscape on species richness, suggesting that frequent dispersal events may enhance species richness. This local variation in species richness is superimposed on regional variation in species pools.
- Community ecology
- Species richness