Connectivity and seasonality cause rapid taxonomic and functional trait succession within an invertebrate community after stream restoration

Judith J. Westveer*, Harm G. van der Geest, E.E. van Loon, Piet F.M. Verdonschot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


General colonization concepts consent that a slow process of microhabitat formation and subsequent niche realization occurs during early stages after new habitat is released. Subsequently, only few species are able to colonize new habitat in the early onset of succession, while species richness increases steadily over time. Although most colonization studies have been performed in terrestrial ecosystems, running water ecosystems are equally or even more prone to colonization after disturbance due to their dynamic nature. We question how invertebrate succession patterns reconcile with general colonization concepts. With this study we provide insight into the colonization process in newly created lowland stream trajectories and answer how within-stream bio- and functional diversity develops over time. Our results show a rapid influx of species, with a wide range of functional traits, during the first season after water flow commenced. During more than two years of regular monitoring, immigration rates were highest in autumn, marking the effects of seasonality on invertebrate dispersal. Biodiversity increased while abundance peaks of species alternated between seasons. Moreover, also days since start of the experiment explains a considerable part of the variability for taxa as well as traits. However, the relative trait composition remained similar throughout the entire monitoring period and only few specific traits had significantly higher proportions during specific seasons. This indicates that first phase colonization in freshwater streams can be a very rapid process that results in a high biodiversity and a large variety of species functional characteristics from the early onset of succession, contradicting general terrestrial colonization theory.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0197182
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


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