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Metacommunity theory assumes that communities are not only affected by local processes but also interact with each other through dispersal. It is generally assumed that zooplankton can quickly recolonise water bodies after droughts, via both dormant egg banks and dispersal of resting eggs. Hitherto, few studies have evaluated the relative importance of resting egg bank recruitment and airborne dispersal in the re-establishment of zooplankton communities.
As zooplankton communities of temporary ponds are frequently confronted by dry phases and have the potential to build up large resting egg banks, we expected the contribution of such resting egg bank to be more important than airborne dispersal for community re-establishment after drought. We also expected that the relative importance of airborne dispersal would be higher for rotifers than for microcrustaceans, as the former group has key traits (e.g. smaller body sizes, shorter generation times and higher reproductive potential) that are thought to enhance the dispersal to and colonisation of vacant habitat.
We performed an enclosure experiment in the vicinity of seven temporary ponds, simulating the colonisation by zooplankton exclusively via the resting egg bank, exclusively via airborne dispersal and via both pathways simultaneously. The enclosures were sampled five times during a period of 53 days.
Our results show that zooplankton organisms were able to rapidly colonise the experimental enclosures, either through their resting egg bank or by airborne dispersal of resting eggs. However, microcrustaceans tended to rely more on recolonisation from the resting egg banks than rotifers, at least for the spatial and temporal scales considered in our study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-669
JournalFreshwater Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • international

ID: 1700362