A unified model explains commonness and rarity on coral reefs

Connolly, Sean R., Hughes, Terry P., and Bellwood, David R. (2017) A unified model explains commonness and rarity on coral reefs. Ecology Letters, 20 (4). pp. 477-486.

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Abstract

Abundance patterns in ecological communities have important implications for biodiversity maintenance and ecosystem functioning. However, ecological theory has been largely unsuccessful at capturing multiple macroecological abundance patterns simultaneously. Here, we propose a parsimonious model that unifies widespread ecological relationships involving local aggregation, species-abundance distributions, and species associations, and we test this model against the metacommunity structure of reef-building corals and coral reef fishes across the western and central Pacific. For both corals and fishes, the unified model simultaneously captures extremely well local species-abundance distributions, interspecific variation in the strength of spatial aggregation, patterns of community similarity, species accumulation, and regional species richness, performing far better than alternative models also examined here and in previous work on coral reefs. Our approach contributes to the development of synthetic theory for large-scale patterns of community structure in nature, and to addressing ongoing challenges in biodiversity conservation at macroecological scales.

Item ID: 50298
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: aggregation, biodiversity, coral reefs, macroecology, species-abundance distribution, Taylor's power law, unified theories
Additional Information:

© 2017 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by CNRS and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

ISSN: 1461-0248
Research Data: https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2qp80
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 07:44
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
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