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Title:The population and community ecology of small freshwater ponds: Assigning process to pattern
Author(s):Holmes, Christopher J.
Director of Research:Cáceres, Carla E.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Cáceres, Carla E.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Allan, Brian F.; Muturi, Ephantus J.; O'Dwyer, James P.; Suarez, Andrew V.
Department / Program:School of Integrative Biology
Discipline:Biology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):structural equation modeling
vector ecology
habitat filtering
interspecific variation
mosquitoes
stormwater ponds
oviposition site choice
habitat selection
community assembly
behavioral ecology
environmental filtering
Daphnia
Abstract:Ecologists have long been intrigued by patterns of spatial structuring for populations and communities inhabiting natural and, more recently, human-created ecosystems. Empirical and theoretical advancements have highlighted the importance of considering the effects of both historical (i.e., colonization history and priority effects) and contemporary processes (e.g., species sorting and interspecific interactions) when studying population and community dynamics. Multiple studies have documented that divergent population and community structures can arise in similar habitats when colonization history differs. For example, early colonists may hinder, inhibit, or in some cases facilitate colonization by later arriving taxa by altering the suitability of a habitat, especially in actively dispersing organisms. The importance of both abiotic and biotic factors on the establishment and subsequent success in a habitat has been well documented in a wide variety of taxa, though the relative importance of these processes has been shown to vary significantly among systems. Furthermore, the spatial distribution of patches in the landscape will shape the nature of these biotic interactions and thus have profound effects on local and regional processes. Given the complexity of these simultaneously acting factors, generating accurate predictions for the outcome of community and population structuring remains difficult for most systems. In much of the developed world, human alteration of the landscape has necessitated the creation of safe and efficient stormwater management infrastructure. However, a by-product of this practice has included the development of newly created small ponds, which have been shown to harbor larval mosquitoes and other insects, crustacean zooplankton, and a wide range of other vertebrate and invertebrate organisms. Given their ubiquity and potential to harbor diverse communities, small stormwater ponds provide a unique opportunity in which to study the mechanisms underlying the formation and dynamics of populations and communities. To this end, I use mosquito and zooplankton communities inhabiting newly created ponds as a model system to empirically and theoretically explore the factors underlying population and community structure. In Chapter 1, I use a stochastic and spatially explicit model to examine how pond network structure and the number and identity of ponds stocked, or removed, from the landscape contributes to overall patterns of metapopulation occupancy and robustness in a focal zooplankton species, Daphnia pulex. I parameterize this model with four-years of D. pulex occupancy data from a small network of 38 newly-constructed forested ponds at Svend O. Heiberg Memorial Forest (Tully, NY, USA). I show that the location of patches stocked or removed from the pond network has contrasting effects on metapopulation occupancy and persistence. When centrally-located ponds were removed from the network, the metapopulation collapsed rapidly. However, when initially founding a metapopulation, the location of ponds stocked does not appear to play an important role. Furthermore, I introduce a simple differential equation model that qualitatively matches results predicted by the stochastic simulations, but is less time intensive and computationally expensive to analyze. Chapters 2 and 3 examine larval mosquito and zooplankton communities inhabiting subsets of a 37 stormwater pond network in Champaign County, Illinois (USA) and provide insights as to the relative importance of the biotic and abiotic environment on the abundance and distribution of larval mosquitoes. In Chapter 2, I show that interspecific variation in predator- and competitor- avoidance behavior during the initial colonization by ovipositing mosquitoes may explain the negative association between zooplankton and mosquitoes in a multi-year field survey. In Chapter 3, I use structural equation modeling to explore the direct and indirect effects of multiple biotic and abiotic factors on the larval abundance of three common species of culicine mosquitoes (Culex pipiens, Culex restuans, and Aedes vexans). I found that the three species varied in response to these factors. Predator abundance, which was driven by hydroperiod, was negatively correlated with Cx. pipiens abundance and positively correlated with Ae. vexans abundance. However, we found no variables that explained variation in the abundance of Cx. restuans. Combined, these studies highlight the complexity of ecological interactions that may occur in small ponds and how the relative importance of these interactions may vary among closely related species.
Issue Date:2019-04-10
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/105173
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Christopher J. Holmes
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05


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