Biogeographic patterns in major marine realms: function not taxonomy unites fish assemblages in reef, seagrass and mangrove systems

Hemingson, Christopher R., and Bellwood, David R. (2018) Biogeographic patterns in major marine realms: function not taxonomy unites fish assemblages in reef, seagrass and mangrove systems. Ecography, 41 (1). pp. 174-182.

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Abstract

We examine the effects of different biogeographic histories on assemblage composition in three major marine habitats in two biogeographically distinct marine realms. Specifically, we quantify the taxonomic and functional composition of fish assemblages that characterise coral reef, seagrass and mangrove habitats, to explore the potential effects of biogeographic history and environment on assemblage composition. The three habitats were surveyed in the Caribbean and on the Great Barrier Reef using a standardised underwater visual census method to record fish size and abundance data. The taxonomic composition of assemblages followed biogeographic expectations, with realm-specific family-level compositions. In marked contrast, the functional composition of assemblages separated habitats regardless of their biogeographic locations. In essence, taxonomy characterises biogeographic realms while functional groups characterise habitats. The Caribbean and Indo-West Pacific have been separated for approximately 15 million years. The two realms have different taxonomic structures which reflect this extended separation, however, the three dominant shallow-water marine habitats all retain distinct functional characteristics: seagrass fishes are functionally similar regardless of their taxonomic composition or biogeographic location. Likewise, for coral reefs and mangroves. The results emphasise the advantages and limitations of taxonomic vs. functional metrics in evaluating patterns. Taxonomy primarily reflects biogeographic and evolutionary history while functional characteristics may better reflect ecological constraints.

Item ID: 52165
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1600-0587
Copyright Information: © 2016 The Authors. Ecography © 2016 Nordic Society Oikos.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC grant number CE140100020
Research Data: http://dx.doi.org/10.4225/28/58901ccaf2686
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2018 07:46
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060302 Biogeography and Phylogeography @ 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 @ 100%
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