Functional diversity and community assembly of river invertebrates show globally consistent responses to decreasing glacier cover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Lee E. Brown
  • Martin Wilkes
  • John E. Brittain
  • Jonathan L. Carrivick
  • Sarah Fell
  • Nikolai Friberg
  • Leopold Füreder
  • Gisli M. Gislason
  • Sarah Hainie
  • William H.M. James
  • Valeria Lencioni
  • Jon S. Olafsson
  • Christopher T. Robinson
  • Svein J. Saltveit
  • Craig Thompson

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Leeds
  • Coventry University
  • University of Oslo
  • Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)
  • University of Innsbruck
  • University of Iceland
  • The Environment Agency
  • MUSE-Museo delle Scienze
  • Marine and Freshwater Research Institute
  • Western Wyoming Community College
  • Institute of Arctic Biology
  • University of Fairbanks; Institute of Arctic Biology; Fairbanks Alaska 99611 USA


Global change threatens invertebrate biodiversity and its central role in numerous ecosystem functions and services. Functional trait analyses have been advocated to uncover global mechanisms behind biodiversity responses to environmental change, but the application of this approach for invertebrates is underdeveloped relative to other organism groups. From an evaluation of 363 records comprising >1.23 million invertebrates collected from rivers across nine biogeographic regions on three continents, consistent responses of community trait composition and diversity to replicated gradients of reduced glacier cover are demonstrated. After accounting for a systematic regional effect of latitude, the processes shaping river invertebrate functional diversity are globally consistent. Analyses nested within individual regions identified an increase in functional diversity as glacier cover decreases. Community assembly models demonstrated that dispersal limitation was the dominant process underlying these patterns, although environmental filtering was also evident in highly glacierized basins. These findings indicate that predictable mechanisms govern river invertebrate community responses to decreasing glacier cover globally.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325–333
Number of pages9
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Early online date18 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018