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Paleolimnological records reveal biotic homogenization driven by eutrophication in tropical reservoirs

New publication by Simone Wengrat, Andre A. Padial, Erik Jeppesen, Thomas A. Davidson, Luciane Fontana, Sandra Costa-Boeddeker, and Denise C. Bicudo


Biodiversity changes in response to eutrophication, climate variability and species invasions. These pressures have been shown to reduce community heterogeneity at various scales; however, how productivity drives homogenization patterns in a community of primary producers, such as diatoms, has not been studied. Using a dataset with good temporal resolution, obtained from cores collected from seven tropical reservoirs, we evaluated patterns of spatial and temporal homogenization, i.e. the trends in temporal α-diversity and spatial β-diversity (change in community composition), of diatom assemblages over the past 60–100 years. The paleolimnological records allowed us to study biodiversity trends since the initial community (reservoir construction) in those systems with low anthropogenic impact and also those undergoing eutrophication. No clear trend of spatial β-diversity change over time was found when all reservoirs were analyzed together. However, when only eutrophic reservoirs were considered, a marked decrease in the spatial β-diversity occurred, suggesting that eutrophication leads to homogenization of the diatom assemblage. These findings were reinforced by the lack of change in β-diversity when the age of the reservoirs was standardized, indicating that the reservoirs’ ontogeny did not influence the spatial β-diversity trend and β-diversity did not increase even in the reservoirs with low anthropogenic impact. In addition, the results showed a decrease of α-diversity over time for almost all the eutrophic reservoirs, as well as a decrease in the total species pool for the reservoirs, although periphytic diatoms may be favored by the appearance and sometimes mass development of floating macrophytes in warm, shallow eutrophic reservoirs. This study supports the role of eutrophication as one of the main drivers of diatom assemblage homogenization in tropical reservoirs, with a significant loss of species over time.