Patterns of temporal community turnover are spatially synchronous across boreal lakes

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Freshwater Biology, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Volume 57, Number 9, p.1782–1793 (2012)



complex adaptive systems; diversity; global change; Moran effect


1. Ecosystems are often exposed to broad-scale environmental change, which can potentially synchronise community dynamics and biodiversity trends. Detection of temporal coherence may, however, depend on the metrics used and their sensitivity to detect change, requiring several lines of evidence to elucidate the full range of temporal responses to environmental change.2. Here, we tested whether the patterns of synchrony among littoral invertebrate communities of Swedish lakes over 20 years (1988–2007) differed when analysed using univariate (taxon richness, evenness, Shannon diversity and total abundance) or multivariate (temporal turnover in community composition) metrics. We included both culturally acidified and circumneutral lakes to examine whether anthropogenic stress influenced the patterns of synchrony.3. Average total abundance, taxon richness and temporal turnover in community composition changed monotonically with time, while evenness and Shannon diversity fluctuated around a long-term mean. However, among-lake variability was high, resulting in a weak temporal coherence. Only trends of temporal turnover changed synchronously across lakes, irrespective of their acidification history.4. Spatially synchronous trends in turnover across lakes were correlated with increasing water colour and decreasing sulphate concentrations, showing the importance of regional drivers of spatiotemporal coherence.5. Our results underpin an increasing body of evidence that the detection of diversity patterns varies among metrics that ignore (taxon richness, evenness, Shannon diversity) or consider (turnover) species identities. More generally, our results suggest that community-level studies of synchrony are suitable for elucidating the role of intrinsic versus extrinsic factors in mediating complex community assembly processes in the long term. This, in turn, contributes to our understanding of temporal patterns of biodiversity.