Spatial patterns in biofilm diversity across hierarchical levels of river-floodplain landscapes

Marc Peipoch, Ryan Jones, H. Maurice Valett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


River-floodplain systems are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems, but the effects of biophysical complexity at multiple scales on microbial biodiversity have not been studied. Here, we investigated how the hierarchical organization of river systems (i.e., region, floodplain, zone, habitats, and microhabitats) influences epilithic biofilm community assemblage patterns by characterizing microbial communities using 16S rRNA gene sequence data and analyzing bacterial species distribution across local and regional scales. Results indicate that regional and local environmental filters concurrently sort bacterial species, suggesting that spatial configuration of epilithic biofilms resembles patterns of larger organisms in floodplain ecosystems. Along the hierarchical organization of fluvial systems, floodplains constitute a vector of maximum environmental heterogeneity and consequently act as a major landscape filter for biofilm species. Thus, river basins and associated floodplains may simply reflect very large scale 'patches' within which environmental conditions select for community composition of epilithic biofilms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0144303
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


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