Lakes as islands: Do size matter?

Main area:Ecology
Target group:Biology
Educational level:Masters, Bachelor
Project description:

Lakes are effectively islands in a sea of dry land, and therefore the theory of island biogeography should apply to these ecosystems. Island biogeography predicts that larger systems harbor more species than smaller islands, for several reasons: Large islands have space for more individuals of species (and thus have lower extinction rates), have more different habitats and may be easier to colonize. Lakes have very different plant abundances and the number of distinct habitat types also varies greatly. In particular lakes with clear water and a deep photic zone tend to harbour many habitats. This highlights a key difference among lakes and "normal" islands, as a large part of the lake area may be inhospitable to the growth of plants rooted in the lake bottom. Thus, area effects might be more closely related to the actual vegetated area. The project should aim to tease apart the different size effects on plant biodiversity in lakes, using a large dataset of species richness and environmental conditions from all larger natural lakes and newly established lakes in Denmark.

Methods used:Statistical evaluation of collected data
Keywords:Biodiversity, Island biogeography, Aquatic plants, Freshwater ecology
Supervisor(s):  Lars Båstrup-Spohr, Michael Krabbe Borregaard