Global diversity of marine macroalgae: environmental conditions explain less variation in the tropics

Keith, Sally A., Kerswell, Ailsa P., and Connolly, Sean R. (2014) Global diversity of marine macroalgae: environmental conditions explain less variation in the tropics. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 23 (5). pp. 517-529.

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Abstract

Aim: Marine macroalgae provide an excellent opportunity to test hypotheses about latitudinal diversity gradients because macroalgal richness decreases towards the tropics, contrary to classic patterns, and because three evolutionarily distinct macroalgal clades (Rhodophyta, Chlorophyta, Phaeophyceae) have converged ecologically. Specifically, we determine the extent to which environmental conditions can predict genus richness in macroalgae. We also evaluate whether the magnitude or direction of the effect of environmental factors, or their ability to explain variation in macroalgal diversity, varies geographically.

Location: Global oceans.

Methods: We formulated and fitted global spatial regression models and geographically weighted regression (GWR) models to determine the extent to which environmental conditions could predict genus richness in macroalgae. GWR allowed us to determine how the role of environmental conditions varied amongst geographical regions.

Results: The global regression model showed that sea surface temperature and nutrients were important predictors of macroalgal genus richness at a global scale. However, GWR revealed that environmental factors explained less variability in richness in the tropics than elsewhere.

Main conclusions: Our results show that whilst environmental conditions influence marine macroalgal diversity, the strength of this influence shows considerable geographical variation. In particular, environmental conditions explain more of the observed variation in diversity at high latitudes than at low latitudes. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that environmental tolerances influence species distributions more strongly at high latitudes, whereas other factors, such as biotic interactions, play a more prominent role in the tropics.

Item ID: 33142
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1466-822X
Keywords: seaweed, time-for-speciation, colonization, competition, herbivory, geographically weighted regression, origination, species interactions, biogeography, macroecology
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC grant DP0880544
Research Data: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.801788.v1
Date Deposited: 14 May 2014 09:51
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 40%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 30%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060302 Biogeography and Phylogeography @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 60%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 40%
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