Land cover alteration shifts ecological assembly processes in floodplain lakes: consequences for fish community dynamics

Bin Li, Yuyu Wang, Wenzhuo Tan, Neil Saintilan, Guangchun Lei*, Li Wen*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)
    7 Downloads (Pure)


    [Graphic abstract presents]

    Habitat degradation is expected to alter community structure and consequently, ecosystem functions including the maintenance of biodiversity. Understanding the underlying abiotic and biotic assembly mechanisms controlling temporal and spatial community structure and patterns is a central issue in biodiversity conservation. In this study, using monthly time series of fish abundance data collected over a three-year period, we compared the temporal community dynamics in natural habitats and poplar plantations in one of the largest river-lake floodplain ecosystems in China, the Dongting Lake. We found a prevailing strong positive species covariance, i.e. species abundance changes in the same way, in all communities that was significantly negatively impacted by higher water nutrient levels. In contrast to species covariance, community stability, which was measured by the average of aggregated abundance divided by temporal standard deviation, was significantly higher in poplar plantations than in natural habitats. The positive species covariance, which was consistent for both wet and dry years and among habitat types, had significantly negative effects on community stability. Furthermore, our results demonstrated that the ecological stochasticity (i.e. community assembly processes generating diversity patterns that are indistinguishable from random chance) was significantly higher in natural sites than in poplar plantations, suggesting that deterministic processes might control the community composition (richness and abundance) at the modified habitat through reducing species synchrony and positive species covariance observed in the natural habitats, leading to significantly lower temporal β-diversity. When combined, our results suggest that habitat modification created environmental conditions for the development of stable fish community in the highly dynamic floodplains, leading to niche-based community with lower temporal β-diversity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number146724
    Pages (from-to)1-15
    Number of pages15
    JournalScience of the Total Environment
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Community stability
    • Species synchrony
    • Variance rate
    • Ecological stochasticity
    • Ecological deterministic
    • Null models


    Dive into the research topics of 'Land cover alteration shifts ecological assembly processes in floodplain lakes: consequences for fish community dynamics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this