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SFS Annual Meeting

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Climatic extremes are becoming more intense across much of the globe, potentially transforming biodiversity and functioning within affected ecosystems. In freshwater environments, hydrological extremes, such as drought, can regulate beta diversity, acting as a powerful environmental filter to dictate the complement of species and functional traits found at local and landscape scales. New methods enabling beta diversity and its functional equivalent to be partitioned into turnover and nestedness-resultant components may offer novel insights into parallel drought impacts on ecosystem structure and function. We used a series of artificial channels (perennial headwater stream analogues) to simulate a gradient of drought intensity, along which we modelled taxonomic and functional turnover and nestedness of macroinvertebrate communities. Drought intensification produced significant environmental distance decay trends (i.e. communities became increasingly taxonomically and functionally dissimilar the more differentially disturbed by drought they were). Taxonomic and functional distance decay slopes were not significantly different, implying that communities were functionally vulnerable to drying. The increased frequency and intensity of droughts predicted under most climate change scenarios could thus profoundly modify not only the structure of running water invertebrate communities, but also the ecosystem functions they underpin.

Tom Matthews (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Birmingham,;

Kieran Khamis (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Birmingham,;

Zining Wang (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Birmingham,;

Victoria Milner (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Worcester,;

Matthew O'Callaghan (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Birmingham,;

Mark Ledger (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Birmingham,;

Thomas Aspin (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Birmingham,;