The Species-Sorting concept, one of the models developed to explain patterns in metacommunity structure, suggests that relationships between biological communities and environmental conditions is the basic means of the species selection processes. A second concept is Neutral Theory, and the idea of neutral dynamics underpinning metacommunity structure, cannot be overlooked. The third mechanism is the Mass-Effect concept, that focuses on the interaction between environmental condition and neutral effects. In the present study, we partitioned fish communities in streams between niche and neutral theory concepts, identifying the best representation of metacommunity structure, and assessed if linear and hydrographic distance were equivalent in the representation of neutral processes. The result points to the importance of species sorting mechanisms in structuring fish communities with neutral processes best represented by the linear distances. These results are important for the fish fauna conservation leading to three considerations: (i) the variation of the landscape and habitat is important for the stream fish, (ii) the natural barriers are an important landscape component to be considered, and (iii) the artificial barriers (dams and impoundments) need to be planned taking in account the catchment basin as the landscape unit.
The identification of the mechanisms underlying co-occurrence patterns of species is a way to identify which processes (niche, neutral or both) structure metacommunities. In this paper, our goals are to identify patterns of co-occurrence in neotropical stream fish and determine which processes structure the metacommunity and the gradients that underlie this structure. Our results pointed out that the metacommunity formed by the total pool of species is structured by a nested pattern (Hyperdispersed Species Loss) of co-occurrence and the mass effect mechanism. On the other hand, a set of core species displays a Clementisian pattern and is structured by the species sorting mechanism. Both, hyperdispersed species loss and the Clementisian patterns point to a discrete set of communities in the metacommunity. These communities could be isolated by physicochemical conditions, or physical barriers, like dams or waterfalls.
Diversity gradients are observed in various groups of organisms. For fishes in streams, the Water-Energy, Productivity and Temporal Heterogeneity hypotheses are considered the best combination to explain richness patterns. The relationship between species diversity and the variables that represent the hypotheses are generally considered linear and stationary, that is, there is equal relation of cause and effect along an entire geographical extension. The assumption of stationarity has not been tested or even observed in diversity gradients, thus producing imprecise models. Therefore, our goal is to quantify stationarity in the existing relationships between the ichthyofauna of streams and the Water-Energy, Productivity and Temporal Heterogeneity hypotheses using a Geographically Weighted Regression – GWR. In the proposed model, there is conspicuous absence of stationarity between fish species richness and the tested hypotheses. Furthermore, water-energy dynamics were observed as a possible metabolic restriction mechanism acting on the community structuring of stream fishes. This mechanism divides the fish fauna from the studied Brazilian watercourses in two regions: i) Amazonian, characterized by a stable climate and populations with little resistance to thermal variation; and ii) Central, featured by greater ranges of temperature and fish populations resistant to thermal variation.