Changes in the functional features of macrophyte communities and driving factors across a 70-year period

Research paper by Marja Lindholm, Janne Alahuhta, Jani Heino, Jan Hjort, Heikki Toivonen

Indexed on: 04 Jan '20Published on: 04 Jan '20Published in: Hydrobiologia


Functional homogenisation occurs across many areas and organism groups, thereby seriously affecting biodiversity loss and ecosystem functioning. In this study, we examined how functional features of aquatic macrophytes have changed during a 70-year period at community and species levels in a boreal lake district. At the community level, we examined if aquatic macrophyte communities showed different spatial patterns in functional composition and functional richness in relation to main environmental drivers between the time periods. We also observed each species in functional space to assess if species with certain sets of traits have become more common or rare in the 70-year study period. We found changes in the relationship between functional community composition and the environment. The aquatic macrophyte communities showed different patterns in functional composition between the two time periods, and the main environmental drivers for these changes were partly different. Temporal changes in functional richness were only partially linked to concomitant changes in the environment, while stable factors were more important. Species’ functional traits were not associated with commonness or rarity patterns. Our findings revealed that functional homogenisation has not occurred across these boreal lakes, ranging from small oligotrophic forest lakes to larger lakes affected by human impacts.