Broad-scale geographic patterns in local stream insect genera richness

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broad-scale, geographic, local stream, insect genera richness

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Comprehensive global studies of stream invertebrate assemblages are rare and have produced contradictory results. To address this shortcoming, we compiled data from 495 published estimates of local genera richness for three orders of stream-dwelling insects (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera) from throughout the world and used these data to describe global geographic patterns in stream insect genera richness and to address two questions: 1) does local stream insect richness vary more with regional historical factors or with local ecological factors?, and 2) to what extent have streams converged in the number of taxa they support? Maximum genera richness varied sharply across the range of latitude examined from the south to north poles for all three orders of aquatic insects. Ephemeroptera richness showed 3 peaks ( 30°S, 10°N, and 40°N) with highest richness near 5–10°N and 40°N latitude. Plecoptera richness was distinctly highest at 40°N latitude with a similar peak at 40°S latitude. Trichoptera richness showed less latitudinal variation than the other taxa but was slightly higher near the equator and at 40°N and S latitude than at other latitudes. Genera richness generally declined with increasing elevation, except for Plecoptera. Maximum genera richness increased steadily with a measure of regional terrestrial net primary production and declined sharply with a measure of hydrologic disturbance for all orders. Richness varied widely among both biogeographical realms and biomes, although ca 2 times as much variation in richness was associated with biome as biogeographic realm. Richness for each order was highest in different biogeographic realms, but all orders had highest richness in broadleaf forest biomes. These latter results imply that spatial variation in local richness of stream insects is more strongly affected by contemporary ecological factors than by historical biogeography and that maintenance of intact forested landscapes may be critical to the conservation of stream invertebrate faunas.

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