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Nestedness theory suggests wetland fragments with large areas and macrophyte diversity benefit waterbirds

Citation

Wang, Rong Xing; Yang, Xiaojun (2022), Nestedness theory suggests wetland fragments with large areas and macrophyte diversity benefit waterbirds, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.w0vt4b8pt

Abstract

Many artificial wetland constructions are currently underway worldwide to compensate for the degradation of natural wetland systems. Researchers face the responsibility of proposing wetland management and species protection strategies to ensure that constructed wetlands positively impact waterbird diversity. Nestedness is a commonly occurring pattern for biotas in fragmented habitats with important implications for conservation; however, only a few studies have focused on seasonal waterbird communities in current artificial wetlands. In this study, we used the nestedness theory for analyzing the annual and seasonal community structures of waterbirds in artificial wetlands at Lake Dianchi (China) to suggest artificial wetland management and waterbird conservation strategies. We carried out three waterbird surveys per month for one year to observe the annual, spring, summer, autumn, and winter waterbird assemblages in 27 lakeside artificial wetland fragments. We used the NeD program to quantify nestedness patterns of waterbirds at the annual and seasonal levels. We also determined Spearman partial correlations to examine the associations of nestedness rank and habitat variables to explore the factors underlying nestedness patterns. We found that annual and all four seasonal waterbird compositions were nested, and selective extinction and habitat nestedness were the main factors governing nestedness. Further, selective colonization was the key driver of nestedness in autumn and winter waterbirds. We suggest that the area of wetland fragments should be as large as possible and that habitat heterogeneity should be maximized to fulfill the conservation needs of different seasonal waterbirds. Furthermore, we suggest that future studies should focus on the least area criterion, and that vegetation management of artificial wetland construction should be based on the notion of sustainable development for humans and wildlife. 

Methods

We carried out three waterbird surveys per month for one year to observe the annual, spring, summer, autumn, and winter waterbird assemblages in 27 lakeside artificial wetland fragments. We used the NeD program to quantify nestedness patterns of waterbirds at the annual and seasonal levels. We also determined Spearman partial correlations to examine the associations of nestedness rank and habitat variables to explore the factors underlying nestedness patterns.

Funding

Kunming Dianchi and Plateau Lakes Institute

The Second Terrestrial Wild Animal Resources Investigation of Yunnan Province, China

Doctoral Science Foundation of Dali University, Award: KYBS201701