peninsula effect, crustaceans, Florida, ridges, immigration-extinction, habitat gradients


The peninsula effect is a pattern of diversity wherein species richness decreases along a peninsula from base to tip and is attributed to three mechanisms: historical processes, habitat gradients, and immigration-extinction equilibrium. Numerous studies have reported conflicting results involving the existence, cause, and validity of the peninsula effect in part because they did not account for effects of history or habitat on species richness patterns and because most previous research focused on organisms that actively disperse, which could confound results with behavioral habitat selection. Florida poses an excellent opportunity to study the peninsula effect because of its geological history and its unique ridges have similar histories (e.g. age, elevation, and sediment). Habitat changes down the peninsula, from a warm temperate climate in the north to a subtropical climate in the south. I studied freshwater crustaceans in isolated wetlands because crustaceans are diverse and disperse passively among these discrete habitats. My study design and statistical analyses controlled for two of the three mechanisms (habitat and history) that may generate a peninsula effect to better test for the third hypothesis (immigration-extinction equilibrium) on the Florida peninsula. Thirty-one wetlands were sampled for crustaceans monthly from November 2004 through April 2005, or until a site dried. Human disturbance was minimized by choosing isolated, ephemeral wetlands located within state reserves, parks, and forests located on four major ridges: Trail, Brooksville, Mount Dora and Lake Wales. I measured several environmental variables to assess habitat variation among sites. Limnological parameters included temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, chlorophyll á, pheophytin, total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and total hardness. Other habitat variables included surface area, distance to nearest water body, fish presence or absence, hydroperiod, total transmitted light and canopy openness. Crustacean species were identified to the lowest practical taxonomic level (typically species) and recorded as present or absent. A total of 53 different crustaceans were identified, including 41 cladocerans, 10 copepods, and 2 ostracods. In a multiple regression, environmental variables and sampling effort accounted for 57% of the variation in species richness. Regression of remaining variation (residuals) against latitude, which measures position along the peninsula, was not statistically significant. The same pattern was obtained when the sequence of regressions was reversed. Therefore, the peninsula effect does affect the species richness of freshwater crustaceans inhabiting ephemeral wetlands on Florida's ridges. Instead, variation in species richness was determined mainly by habitat differences, particularly the complex interaction of phosphorus levels, isolation, fish presence or absence, and hydroperiod. This study may serve as a model for more thorough analyses of mechanisms (history, habitat, and immigration-extinction) of a peninsula effect in other taxa.


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Jenkins, David


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Arts and Sciences



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Masters Thesis (Open Access)

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