Your PDF has successfully downloaded.

You may be interested in finding more content on these topics:


You are not currently logged in.

Access JSTOR through your library or other institution:


Log in through your institution.

Journal Article

Taxonomic sufficiency in freshwater ecosystems: effects of taxonomic resolution, functional traits, and data transformation

Melanie Mueller, Joachim Pander and Juergen Geist
Freshwater Science
Vol. 32, No. 3 (September 2013), pp. 762-778
DOI: 10.1899/12-212.1
Stable URL:
Page Count: 17
Were these topics helpful?
See somethings inaccurate? Let us know!

Select the topics that are inaccurate.

  • Download PDF
  • Add to My Lists
  • Cite this Item
We're having trouble loading this content. Download PDF instead.


AbstractTaxonomic sufficiency (TS) has been proposed for assessing community composition and environmental impacts as a way to balance the need to indicate the biology of the organisms present with time and effort needed for species identification. TS has been applied most often to marine and freshwater macroinvertebrates, but tests of its usefulness are lacking for other freshwater groups. We analyzed the effects of taxonomic resolution, functional groupings, and data transformation on multivariate community patterns in periphyton, macrophytes, macroinvertebrates, and fishes, and on the quantification of biodiversity and environmental gradients. The applicability of TS differed strongly among taxonomic groups, depending on the average taxonomic breadth of the species sets. Numerical data resolution had more pronounced effects on community patterns than taxonomic resolution. Richness was strongly affected by data aggregation, but diversity indices were statistically reliable up to order level. Taxonomic aggregation had no significant influence on ability to detect environmental gradients. Functional surrogates based on biological traits, such as feeding type, reproductive strategy, and trophic state, were strongly correlated (ρ  =  0.64–0.85) with taxonomic community composition. However, environmental correlations were generally lower with data aggregated to functional traits rather than to species. TS was universally applicable within taxonomic groups for different habitats in one biogeographic region. Aggregation to family or order was suitable for quantifying biodiversity and environmental gradients, but multivariate community analyses required finer resolution in fishes and macrophytes than in periphyton and macroinvertebrates. Sampling effort in environmental-impact studies and monitoring programs would be better invested in quantitative data and number of spatial and temporal replicates than in taxonomic detail.

Notes and References

This item contains 59 references.

Literature Cited
  • ['Anderson, M. J, S. D. Connell, B. M Gillanders, C. E Diebel, W. M Blom, J. E Saunders, and T. J Landers. 2005. Relationships between taxonomic resolution and spatial scales of multivariate variation. Journal of Animal Ecology 74:636–646.']
  • ['Anderson, M. J, R. N Gorley, and K. R Clarke. 2008. PERMANOVA+ for PRIMER: guide to software and statistical methods \n\n\t\t\t\t\tThe University of Chicago Press\n\n\t\t\t\t\tPlymouth, UK']
  • ['Bailey, R. C, R. H Norris, and T. B Reynoldson. 2001. Taxonomic resolution of benthic macroinvertebrate communities in bioassessments. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 20:280–286.']
  • ['Balmford, A, A. H. M Jayasuriya, and M. J. B Green. 1996. Using higher taxon richness as a surrogate for species richness: II. Local applications. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 263:1571–1575.']
  • ['Barbour, M. T, J Gerritsen, B. D Snyder, and J. B Stribling. 1999. Rapid bioassessment protocols for use in streams and wadeable rivers: periphyton, benthic macroinvertebrates, and fish. 2nd edition. EPA 841-B-99-002 \n\n\t\t\t\t\tThe University of Chicago Press\n\n\t\t\t\t\tWashington, DC']
  • ['Bêche, L. A, and B Statzner. 2009. Richness gradients of stream invertebrates across the USA: taxonomy- and trait-based approaches. Biodiversity Conservation 18:3909–3930.']
  • ['Bellier, E, V Grotan, S Engen, A. K Schartau, O. H Diserud, and A. G Finstad. 2012. Combining counts and incidence data: an efficient approach for estimating the log-normal species abundance distribution and diversity indices. Oecologia (Berlin) 170:477–488.']
  • ['Bevilacqua, S, A Terlizzi, J Claudet, S Fraschetti, and F Boero. 2012. Taxonomic relatedness does not matter for species surrogacy in the assessment of community responses to environmental drivers. Journal of Applied Ecology 49:357–366.']
  • ['Blanche, K. R, A. N Andersen, and J. A Ludwig. 2001. Rainfall-contingent detection of fire impacts: responses of beetles to experimental fire regimes. Ecological Applications 11:86–96.']
  • ['Buss, D. F, and A. S Vitorino. 2010. Rapid bioassessment protocols using benthic macroinvertebrates in Brazil: evaluation of taxonomic sufficiency. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 29:562–571.']
  • ['Cadotte, M. W, K Carscadden, and N Mirotchnick. 2011. Beyond species: functional diversity and the maintenance of ecological processes and services. Journal of Applied Ecology 48:1079–1087.']
  • ['Cagnolo, L, S. I Molina, and G. R Valladares. 2002. Diversity and guild structure of insect assemblages under grazing and exclusion regimes in a montane grassland from Central Argentina. Biodiversity Conservation 11:407–420.']
  • ['Carey, M. P, and D. H Wahl. 2011. Determining the mechanism by which fish diversity influences production. Oecologia (Berlin) 167:189–198.']
  • ['Chainho, P, M. F Lane, M. L Chaves, J. L Costa, M. J Costa, and D. M Dauer. 2007. Taxonomic sufficiency as a useful tool for typology in a poikilohaline estuary. Hydrobiologia 587:63–78.']
  • ['Clarke, R. K, and R. N Gorley. 2006. PRIMER v6: user manual/tutorial. 2nd edition \n\n\t\t\t\t\tThe University of Chicago Press\n\n\t\t\t\t\tPlymouth, UK']
  • ['Clarke, R. K, and R. M Warwick. 2001. Change in marine communities: an approach to statistical analysis and interpretation \n\n\t\t\t\t\tThe University of Chicago Press\n\n\t\t\t\t\tPlymouth, UK']
  • ['Demsar, J. 2006. Statistical comparison of classifiers over multiple data sets. Journal of Machine Learning Research 7:1–30.']
  • ['Drew, L. W. 2011. Are we losing the science of taxonomy . BioScience 61:942–946.']
  • ['Dudgeon, D, A. H Arthington, M. O Gessner, Z Kawabata, D. J Knowler, C Lévêque, R. J Naiman, A Prieur-Richard, D Soto, M. L. J Stiassny, and C. A Sullivan. 2006. Freshwater biodiversity: importance, threats, status and conservation challenges. Biological Review 81:163–182.']
  • ['Ellis, D. 1985. Taxonomic sufficiency on pollution assessment. Marine Pollution Bulletin 16:459.']
  • ['Ferraro, S. P, and F. A Cole. 1990. Taxonomic level and sample size sufficient for assessing pollution impacts on the Southern California Bight macrobenthos. Marine Ecology Progress Series 67:251–262.']
  • ['Geist, J. 2011. Integrative freshwater ecology and biodiversity conservation. Ecological Indicators 11:1507–1516.']
  • ['Giagrande, A. 2003. Biodiversity, conservation, and the “taxonomic impediment”. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 13:451–459.']
  • ['Hansson, L, M Gyllström, A Ståhl-Delbanco, and M Svensson. 2004. Responses to fish predation and nutrients by plankton at different levels of taxonomic resolution. Freshwater Biology 49:1538–1550.']
  • ['Heino, J. 2008a. Influence of taxonomic resolution and data transformation on biotic matrix concordance and assemblage-environment relationships in stream macroinvertebrates. Boreal Environmental Research 13:359–369.']
  • ['Heino, J. 2008b. Patterns of functional biodiversity and function–environment relationships in littoral macroinvertebrates. Limnology and Oceanography 53:1446–1455.']
  • ['Heino, J, H Mykrä, and J Kotanen. 2008. Weak relationships between landscape characteristics and multiple facets of stream macroinvertebrate biodiversity in a boreal drainage basin. Landscape Ecology 23:417–426.']
  • ['Heino, J, and J Soininen. 2007. Are higher taxa adequate surrogates for species-level assemblage patterns and species richness in stream organisms. Biological Conservation 137:78–89.']
  • ['Johnson, R. K, D Hering, M Furse, and R. T Clarke. 2006. Detection of ecological change using multiple organism groups: metrics and uncertainty. Hydrobiologia 566:115–137.']
  • ['Jones, F. C. 2008. Taxonomic sufficiency: the influence of taxonomic resolution on freshwater bioassessments using benthic macroinvertebrates. Environmental Review 16:45–69.']
  • ['Landeiro, V. L, L. M Bini, F. R. C Costa, E Franklin, A Nogueira, J. L. P Souza, J Moraes, and W. E Magnusson. 2012. How far can we go in simplifying biomonitoring assessments? An integrated analysis of taxonomic surrogacy, taxonomic sufficiency and numerical resolution in a megadiverse region. Ecological Indicators 23:366–373.']
  • ['Lenat, D. R, and V. H Resh. 2001. Taxonomy and stream ecology: the benefits of genus- and species-level identifications. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 20:287–298.']
  • ['Listgarten, J, and A Emili. 2005. Statistical and computational methods for comparative proteomic profiling using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics 4.4:419434.']
  • ['Losos, J. B, M Leal, R. E Glor, K de Queiroz, P. E Hertz, S. L Rodriguez, L. A Chamizo, T. R Jackman, and A Larson. 2003. Niche lability in the evolution of a Caribbean lizard community. Nature 424:542–545.']
  • ['Mandelik, Y, T Dayan, V Chikantunov, and V Kravchenko. 2007. Reliability of a higher-taxon approach to richness, rarity, and composition assessments at the local scale. Conservation Biology 21:1506–1515.']
  • ['Maurer, D. 2000. The dark side of taxonomic sufficiency (TS). Marine Pollution Bulletin 40:98–101.']
  • ['Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and human well-being: health synthesis \n\n\t\t\t\t\tThe University of Chicago Press\n\n\t\t\t\t\tWashington, DC']
  • ['Mouillot, D, W. H. N Mason, O Dumay, and J. B Wilson. 2005. Functional regularity: a neglected aspect of functional diversity. Oecologia (Berlin) 142:353–359.']
  • ['Mueller, M, J Pander, and J Geist. 2011. The effects of weirs on structural stream habitat and biological communities. Journal of Applied Ecology 48:1450–1461.']
  • ['Olsgard, F, P. J Somerfield, and M. R Carr. 1997. Relationships between taxonomic resolution and data transformations in analyses of a macrobenthic community along an established pollution gradient. Marine Ecology Progress Series 149:173–181.']
  • ['Olsgard, F, P. J Somerfield, and M. R Carr. 1998. Relationships between taxonomic resolution, macrobenthic community patterns and disturbance. Marine Ecology Progress Series 172:25–36.']
  • ['Pielou, E. C. 1975. Ecological diversity \n\n\t\t\t\t\tThe University of Chicago Press\n\n\t\t\t\t\tNew York']
  • ['Poff, N. L. 1997. Landscape filters and species traits: toward mechanistic understanding and prediction in stream ecology. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 16:391–409.']
  • ['Poff, N. L, D. J Olden, N. K. M Vieira, D. S Finn, M. P Simmons, and B Kondratieff. 2006. Functional trait niches of North American lotic insects: trait-based ecological applications in light of phylogenetic relationships. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 25:730–755.']
  • ['Rosenzweig, M. L, and E. A Sandlin. 1997. Species diversity and latitudes: listening to area’s signal. Oikos 80:172–176.']
  • ['Sajan, S, T. V Joydas, and R Damodaran. 2010. Depth-related patterns of meiofauna on the Indian continental shelf are conserved at reduced taxonomic resolution. Hydrobiologia 652:39–47.']
  • ['Schaumburg, J, C Schranz, D Stelzer, and G Hofmann. 2007. Handlungsanweisung für die ökologische Bewertung von Seen zur Umsetzung der EU-Wasserrahmenrichtlinie: Makrophyten und Phytobenthos \n\n\t\t\t\t\tThe University of Chicago Press\n\n\t\t\t\t\tAugsburg, Germany']
  • ['Shannon, C. E, and W Weaver. 1949. The mathematical theory of communication \n\n\t\t\t\t\tThe University of Chicago Press\n\n\t\t\t\t\tUrbana, Illinois']
  • ['Siefert, A. 2012. Incorporating intraspecific variation in tests of trait-based community assembly. Oecologia (Berlin) 170:767–775.']
  • ['Simpson, E. H. 1949. Measurement of diversity. Nature 163:688.']
  • ['Somerfield, P. J, and K. R Clarke. 1995. Taxonomic levels, in marine community studies, revisited. Marine Ecology Progress Series 127:113–119.']
  • ['Southwood, T. R. E. 1977. Habitat, the templet for ecological strategies. Journal of Animal Ecology 46:337–365.']
  • ['Stammel, B, B Cyffka, J Geist, M Müller, J Pander, G Blasch, P Fischer, A Gruppe, F Haas, M Kilg, P Lang, R Schopf, A Schwab, H Utschick, and M Weißbrod. 2012. Floodplain restoration on the Upper Danube (Germany) by re-establishing water and sediment dynamics: a scientific monitoring as part of the implementation. River Systems 20/1–2:55–70.']
  • ['Strayer, D. L, and D Dudgeon. 2010. Freshwater biodiversity conservation: recent progress and future challenges. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 29:344–358.']
  • ['Sweeney, B. W, J. M Battle, J. K Jackson, and T Dapkey. 2011. Can DNA barcodes of stream macroinvertebrates improve descriptions of community structure and water quality. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 30:195–216.']
  • ['Tonn, W. M. 1990. Climate change and fish communities: a conceptual framework. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 119:337–352.']
  • ['Townsend, C. R, and A. G Hildrew. 1994. Species traits in relation to a habitat templet for river systems. Freshwater Biology 31:265–275.']
  • ['Usseglio-Polatera, P, M Bournaud, P Richoux, and H Tachet. 2000. Biological and ecological traits of benthic freshwater macroinvertebrates: relationships and definition of groups with similar traits. Freshwater Biology 43:175–205.']
  • ['Warwick, R. M. 1993. Environmental impact studies on marine communities – pragmatic considerations. Australian Journal of Ecology 18:63–80.']


Part of Sustainability