Structural and functional connectivity, as subconcepts of landscape connectivity, are key factors in biodiversity conservation and management. Previous studies have focused on the consequences of connectivity for populations of terrestrial organisms, which may not be appropriate for aquatic organisms.
As landscape connectivity critically affects the potential value of ponds for biodiversity, here we used diving beetles (Dytiscidae), an indicator taxon of wetland biodiversity, to investigate how structural connectivity affects functional connectivity to aquatic invertebrates in an urban landscape.
We assessed pairwise similarities of dytiscid community, i.e. the variation of species composition between clustered and isolated ponds in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Finland. We investigated how dytiscid community similarity is affected by Euclidean distances between ponds, as an indicator of structural connectivity.
We found that clustered ponds shared more species than isolated ponds. Dytiscid species community similarity responded negatively to increasing Euclidean distance between ponds. Effectively dispersing species were widely distributed across the landscape, while poor dispersers were scarcely distributed in the same landscape.
Structural connectivity determines which species are able to disperse successfully, with poor dispersers restricted to well-connected ponds. The different responses of effective dispersers and poor dispersers to the same structural connectivity indicate that functional connectivity determines species composition. We recommend providing well-connected aquatic habitats in urban landscapes and the implementation of measures to reduce isolation of wetland assemblages. Even clustered ponds need dispersal from other habitats to ensure their contribution to urban biodiversity.