Spatial trends of Potamogetonaceae along an altitudinal gradient
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Studying the effect of altitude on species distribution may help us to predict the response of species to future climate changes, which will likely cause upward migration of vegetation zones. In this study, we aimed to analyze distribution and abundance patterns ofPotamogetonaceaealong an altitudinal gradient and to determine the species characterizing a priori defined five altitudinal groups. We included 294 sampling for 19 species from 141 wetlands across Turkey with an elevation gradient of 2700 m. Analysis of similarities (ANOSIM) found significant differences in species assemblages only between some altitudinal groups. Seven species were found in either high or low altitudes.Stuckenia pectinatahad the highest contribution to all groups except one in analysis of similarity percentages. Detrended correspondence analysis revealed a clear altitudinal gradient by placing species under six clusters. Even widespread species occurring in all altitudes showed a tendency of altitudinal preference. The results were inferred from our physicochemical measurements for the species and relevant literature. Exclusively highland species were found in waters with similar physical and chemical properties (i.e. low electrical conductivity, salinity, and ammonium concentrations). However, lowland species were sampled from very diverse aquatic habitats. Among the lowland speciesPotamogeton acutifoliuswas found under low values for the above-mentioned physicochemical water parameters butAlthenia orientalisshowed extremely high values, as well asPotamogeton coloratusandPotamogeton nodosus. Understanding elevational distribution of macrophytes is especially important due to difficulties in their upward migration and availability of suitable aquatic habitats.