A mosaic-based approach is needed to conserve biodiversity in disturbed freshwater ecosystems

Global Change Biology
By: , and 



Conserving native biodiversity in the face of human‐ and climate‐related impacts is a challenging and globally important ecological problem that requires an understanding of spatially connected, organismal‐habitat relationships. Globally, a suite of disturbances (e.g., agriculture, urbanization, climate change) degrades habitats and threatens biodiversity. A mosaic approach (in which connected, interacting collections of juxtaposed habitat patches are examined) provides a scientific foundation for addressing many disturbance‐related, ecologically based conservation problems. For example, if specific habitat types disproportionately increase biodiversity, these keystones should be incorporated into research and management plans. Our sampling of fish biodiversity and aquatic habitat along ten 3‐km sites within the Upper Neosho River subdrainage, KS, from June‐August 2013 yielded three generalizable ecological insights. First, specific types of mesohabitat patches (i.e., pool, riffle, run, and glide) were physically distinct and created unique mosaics of mesohabitats that varied across sites. Second, species richness was higher in riffle mesohabitats when mesohabitat size reflected field availability. Furthermore, habitat mosaics that included more riffles had greater habitat diversity and more fish species. Thus, riffles (<5% of sampled area) acted as keystone habitats. Third, additional conceptual development, which we initiate here, can broaden the identification of keystone habitats across ecosystems and further operationalize this concept for research and conservation. Thus, adopting a mosaic approach can increase scientific understanding of organismal‐habitat relationships, maintain natural biodiversity, advance spatial ecology, and facilitate effective conservation of native biodiversity in human‐altered ecosystems.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A mosaic-based approach is needed to conserve biodiversity in disturbed freshwater ecosystems
Series title Global Change Biology
DOI 10.1111/gcb.13846
Volume 24
Issue 1
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 14 p.
First page 308
Last page 321
Country United States
State Kansas
Other Geospatial Upper Neosho River
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