Aim Biogeographical patterns in metacommunities are still poorly understood, and different processes are expected to occur in different habitats. We analysed the regional plant metacommunities of coastal habitats to test whether (1) the influence of space and climate differs between two habitats differentiated along the seashore–inland gradient, and (2) regional variation in species composition of these habitats can be ascribed to different metacommunity paradigms.Location The entire coast of the Iberian Peninsula, south-western Europe.Methods We collected data on the plant species composition of coastal sites on sand dunes across 3000 km of coastline. The sites were classified into two habitats corresponding to shifting and stable sand dunes, and divided into three distinct geographical regions: Cantabrian, Atlantic and Mediterranean. We assessed the geographical structure of the species composition using ordination, estimates of species turnover and spatial autocorrelation. We then used multivariate models and variation partitioning to test the influence of climatic and spatial effects. Analyses were conducted for the whole data set and the geographical subsets.Results Metacommunities from shifting and stable dunes showed similar spa- tial patterns, with the highest species turnover occurring in the Mediterranean region. Similarities between communities that were nearer each other (typically < 100 km) were weaker in shifting than in stable dunes, although the distance decay for sites that were further apart was similar in both habitats. Variation in species composition in shifting dunes was mainly explained by distance and climate, while in stable dunes the effect of climate was clearly dominant. The observed differences were relatively consistent across geographical regions.Main conclusions Distinct processes structure the metacommunities in two dune habitats differentiated along the seashore–inland gradient. Communities of shifting dunes seem to be structured by an interplay of neutral or patch-dynamic processes and to a lesser degree by species sorting. In contrast, communities of stable dunes are mainly governed by species sorting in response to climatic gradi- ents. These results highlight the importance of differentiating habitats according to local ecological factors when analysing regional patterns in metacommunities.
|Numero di pagine||11|
|Rivista||Journal of Biogeography|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2014|
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