Insular lake island biogeography: using lake metrics to predict diversity in littoral zone mollusk communities

Andrew T. Harris, Daelyn Woolnough, David Zanatta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Island biogeography theory can be used to explain patterns of species richness on various types of habitat islands, including freshwater lake systems. Mollusk production in these systems also has been linked to various water-chemistry variables, such as pH, alkalinity, hardness, and specific conductance. We examined how mollusk diversity patterns were related to geographical and limnological factors in insular lakes of the Beaver and Manitou Archipelagos in Lake Michigan (Laurentian Great Lakes), USA. The strongest correlations observed were with shoreline development (r = 0.80), specific conductance (r = 0.87), and pH (r = 0.87). Principal components analysis revealed that isolation by distance and PO4 3- concentration also may have affected species richness and abundance. Shoreline length was a better predictor of species richness than surface area, but both measures of habitat size were unable to account for much of the variation in species richness. The data suggest that shoreline length and development represent available habitat area more accurately than lake area for primarily littoral-dwelling mollusks. The relatively weak correlations observed with lake area and isolation from Lake Michigan suggest that application of island biogeography theory to predict mollusk species richness using only lake surface area and isolation by distance is limited for freshwater mollusks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)997-1008
JournalJournal of the North American Benthological Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2011


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