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Spatial synchrony in stream fish populations: influence of species traits

Abstract : Spatial synchrony in population dynamics has been identified in most taxonomic groups. Numerous studies have reported varying levels of spatial synchrony among closely-related species, suggesting that species' characteristics may play a role in determining the level of synchrony. However, few studies have attempted to relate this synchrony to the ecological characteristics and/or life-history traits of species. Yet, as to some extent the extinction risk may be related to synchrony patterns, identifying a link between species' characteristics and spatial synchrony is crucial, and would help us to define effective conservation planning. Here, we investigated whether species attributes and temperature synchrony (i.e. a proxy of the Moran effect) account for the differences in spatial population synchrony observed in 27 stream fish species in France. After measuring and testing the level of synchrony for each species, we performed a comparative analysis to detect the phylogenetic signal of these levels, and to construct various multi-predictor models with species traits and temperature synchrony as covariates, while taking phylogenetic relatedness into account. We then performed model averaging on selected models to take model uncertainty into account in our parameter estimates. Fifteen of the 27 species displayed a significant level of synchrony. Synchrony was weak, but highly variable between species, and was not conserved across the phylogeny. We found that some species' characteristics significantly influenced synchrony levels. Indeed, the average model indicated that species associated with greater dispersal abilities, lower thermal tolerance, and opportunistic strategy displayed a higher degree of synchrony. These findings indicate that phylogeny and spatial temperature synchrony do not provide information pertinent for explaining the variations in species' synchrony levels, whereas the dispersal abilities, the life-history strategies and the upper thermal tolerance limits of species do appear to be quite reliable predictors of synchrony levels.
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Mathieu Chevalier, Pascal Laffaille, Gaël Grenouillet. Spatial synchrony in stream fish populations: influence of species traits. Ecography, Wiley, 2014, 37 (10), pp.960-968. ⟨10.1111/ecog.00662⟩. ⟨hal-01335785⟩

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