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Data from: Beyond a single patch: local and regional processes explain diversity patterns in a seagrass epifaunal metacommunity

Cite this dataset

Stark, Keila (2020). Data from: Beyond a single patch: local and regional processes explain diversity patterns in a seagrass epifaunal metacommunity [Dataset]. Dryad.


Ecological communities are jointly structured by dispersal, density-independent responses to environmental conditions and density-dependent biotic interactions. Metacommunity ecology provides a framework for understanding how these processes combine to determine community seagrass meadows along the British Columbia coast, we tested the hypothesis that eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) epifaunal invertebrate assemblages are influenced by local environmental conditions, but that high dispersal rates at larger spatial scales dampen effects of environmental differences. We used hierarchical joint species distribution modelling to understand the contribution of environmental conditions, spatial distance between meadows, and species co-occurrences to epifaunal invertebrate abundance and distribution across the region. We found that patterns of taxonomic compositional similarity among meadows were inconsistent with dispersal limitation, and meadows in the same region were often no more similar to each other than meadows over 1000 km away. Abiotic environmental conditions (temperature, dissolved oxygen) explained a small fraction of variation in taxonomic abundances patterns across the region. We found novel co-occurrence patterns among taxa that could not be explained by shared responses to environmental gradients, suggesting the possibility that interspecific interactions influence seagrass invertebrate abundance and distribution. Our results suggest that biodiversity and ecosystem functions provided by seagrass meadows reflect ecological processes occurring both within meadows and across seascapes, and that management of eelgrass habitat for biodiversity may be most effective when both local and regional processes are considered.

Usage notes

There are three datasets: eelgrass-associated invertebtrate biodiversity data, environmental data, and spatial coordinates. There were 17 sites in the study across the coast of British Columbia, and we sampled 6 quadrats in each in a 2x3 array (see Fig. 1 in Supplement of Stark et al. for schematic diagram and specific sampling details).

Y_matrix.csv is a diversity dataset, with species counts for every quadrat in the study.

X_matrix.csv is the environmental data, with temperature, salinity, nitrates, and seagrass biometrics for each quadrat.

spatial.csv provides spatial coordinates for each quadrat in the study.