Peeling the Layers of Caddisfly Diversity on a Longitudinal Gradient in Karst Freshwater Habitats Reveals Community Dynamics and Stability

Insects. 2021 Mar 10;12(3):234. doi: 10.3390/insects12030234.


Freshwater biodiversity is facing a severe crisis due to many human impacts, yet the diversity dynamics of freshwater communities and possibilities of assessing these are vastly unexplored. We aimed at emphasizing different aspects of portraying diversity of a species-rich, aquatic insect group (caddisflies; Trichoptera) across four different habitats in an anthropogenically unimpacted, connected karst barrage lake/riverine system. To define diversity, we used common indices with pre-set sensitivity to species abundance/dominance; i.e., sensitivity parameter (species richness, Shannon, Simpson, Berger-Parker) and diversity profiles based on continuous gradients of this sensitivity parameter: the naïve and non-naïve diversity profiles developed by Leinster and Cobbold. The non-naïve diversity profiles show diversity profiles with regard to the similarity among species in terms of ecological traits and preferences, whereas the naïve diversity profile is called mathematically "naïve" as it assumes absolute dissimilarity between species that is almost never true. The commonly used indices and the naïve diversity profile both ranked the springs as least diverse and tufa barriers as most diverse. The non-naïve diversity profiles based on similarity matrices (using feeding behavior and stream zonation preferences of species), showed even greater differences between these habitats, while ranking stream habitats close together, regardless of their longitudinal position. We constructed the Climate Score index (CSI) in order to assess how diversity and species' vulnerability project the community's resistance and/or resilience to climate change. The CSI ranked the springs as most vulnerable, followed by all habitats longitudinally placed below them. We highlight the importance of integrating ecological information into biodiversity and vulnerability assessment of freshwater communities.

Keywords: climate change vulnerability; diversity profile; non-naïve diversity profile; sensitivity parameter q; similarity matrix.