The relationship between zooplankton occupancy and abundance in a floodplain is mediated by the hydrological regime
Abstract: Aim Positive relationships between occupancy and abundance are often found for different groups of organisms and ecosystem types. However, to our knowledge, no study has sought to assess this relationship considering a context in which a particular mechanism is the most likely explanation. In this study, in addition to the positive relationship with abundance, we tested the hypothesis that occupancy of zooplankton species should be greater during the flood season because in this period the hydrological connectivity is greater than in the dry season, facilitating passive dispersal between floodplain environments. Methods Our study was carried out at 52 sites - including lakes and rivers - on the Araguaia River floodplain. We used an analysis of covariance to test the effects of abundance and hydrological period on zooplankton occupancy. Results We found, as expected, a positive relationship between occupancy and abundance of zooplankton species in each hydrological period. Our results also indicated that, with the increase in abundance, species occupancies were higher in the flood than in the dry season. Conclusions The positive effect of the flood on zooplankton occupancy can be explained by the increase in water level that increases the hydrological connectivity and the potential for plankton passive dispersal.