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Cave Communities: From the Surface Border to the Deep Darkness
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Article

Abiotic Community Constraints in Extreme Environments: Epikarst Copepods as a Model System

1
ZRC SAZU Karst Research Institute, Novi trg 2, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
2
Departments of Biology and Statistics, University of Florida, MCC Statistical Consulting LLC, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
3
Department of Environmental Science, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20016, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2020, 12(7), 269; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12070269
Received: 9 June 2020 / Revised: 30 June 2020 / Accepted: 2 July 2020 / Published: 7 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cave Communities: From the Surface Border to the Deep Darkness)
The general hypothesis that the overall presence or absence of one or more species in an extreme habitat is determined by physico-chemical factors was investigated using epikarst copepod communities as a model system, an example of an extreme environment with specialized, often rare species. The relationship between the presence or absence of epikarst copepods from drips in six Slovenian caves and 12 physico-chemical factors (temperature, conductivity, pH, Ca2+, Na+, K+, Mg2+, NH4+, and Cl, NO2, NO3, and SO42−) was explored. Statistical analyses included principal components analysis, logistic mixed models, stepwise logistic multivariate regression, classification trees, and random forests. Parametric statistical analyses demonstrated the overall importance of two variables—temperature and conductivity. The more flexible statistical approaches, namely categorical trees and random forests, indicate that temperature and concentrations of Ca2+ and Mg2+ were important. This may be because they are essential nutrients or, at least in the case of Ca2+, its importance in molting. The correlation of Cl and NO3 with copepod abundance may be due to unmeasured variables that vary at the scale of individual cave, but in any case, the values have an anthropogenic component. This contrasts with factors important in individual species’ niche separation, which overlap with the community parameters only for NO3. View Full-Text
Keywords: extreme environment; niche; epikarst; classification trees; Copepoda; random forests extreme environment; niche; epikarst; classification trees; Copepoda; random forests
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MDPI and ACS Style

Pipan, T.; Christman, M.C.; Culver, D.C. Abiotic Community Constraints in Extreme Environments: Epikarst Copepods as a Model System. Diversity 2020, 12, 269. https://doi.org/10.3390/d12070269

AMA Style

Pipan T, Christman MC, Culver DC. Abiotic Community Constraints in Extreme Environments: Epikarst Copepods as a Model System. Diversity. 2020; 12(7):269. https://doi.org/10.3390/d12070269

Chicago/Turabian Style

Pipan, Tanja, Mary C. Christman, and David C. Culver 2020. "Abiotic Community Constraints in Extreme Environments: Epikarst Copepods as a Model System" Diversity 12, no. 7: 269. https://doi.org/10.3390/d12070269

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