The effects of water pollution on the phylogenetic community structure of aquatic plants in the East Tiaoxi River, China

Hironori Toyama, Kazuhiro Bessho, Liangliang Huang, Shun K. Hirota, Yuichi Kano, Keiko Mase, Tatsuro Sato, Akiyo Naiki, Jianhua Li, Yukihiro Shimatani, Tetsukazu Yahara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Water pollution is one of the most serious aquatic environmental problems worldwide. In China, recent agricultural and industrial development has resulted in rapid changes in aquatic ecosystems. Here, we reveal the effects of water pollution on the phylogenetic community structure of aquatic macrophytes in the Tiaoxi River, China. We placed a rectangular plot at 47 sites within the Tiaoxi River from the mouth of the river to 88.5 km upstream, in which we recorded species abundance and measured 22 physico-chemical variables. Bayesian phylogeny using the rbcL and matK gene sequences was employed to quantify phylogenetic α- and β-diversity, and test the phylogenetic signal in four growth forms: emergent, floating-leaved, free-floating, and submerged. Within communities, water contamination and phytoplankton abundance decreased species richness and phylogenetic diversity, which resulted in phylogenetic clustering; species within communities were more closely related to each other than expected. Between communities, differences in geographical distance and phytoplankton abundance resulted in phylogenetic dissimilarity among plots. Aquatic macrophytes showed phylogenetic signals in which related species responded more similarly to disturbance. Thus, the observed patterns could be explained by environmental filtering and suggested that water pollution by human activity has added more filters to the existing environmental filters that drive the species assembly of macrophyte communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)632-645
Number of pages14
JournalFreshwater Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science

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