A geometric basis for surface habitat complexity and biodiversity

Torres-Pulliza, Damaris, Dornelas, Maria A., Pizarro, Oscar, Bewley, Michael, Blowes, Shane A., Boutros, Nader, Brambilla, Viviana, Chase, Tory J., Frank, Grace, Friedman, Ariell, Hoogenboom, Mia O., Williams, Stefan, Zawada, Kyle J. A., and Madin, Joshua S. (2020) A geometric basis for surface habitat complexity and biodiversity. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 4. pp. 1495-1501.

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A scale-independent theory of habitat complexity based on three key surface descriptors explains substantial variation in coral reef biodiversity.

Structurally complex habitats tend to contain more species and higher total abundances than simple habitats. This ecological paradigm is grounded in first principles: species richness scales with area, and surface area and niche density increase with three-dimensional complexity. Here we present a geometric basis for surface habitats that unifies ecosystems and spatial scales. The theory is framed by fundamental geometric constraints between three structure descriptors-surface height, rugosity and fractal dimension-and explains 98% of surface variation in a structurally complex test system: coral reefs. Then, we show how coral biodiversity metrics (species richness, total abundance and probability of interspecific encounter) vary over the theoretical structure descriptor plane, demonstrating the value of the theory for predicting the consequences of natural and human modifications of surface structure.

Item ID: 64366
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2397-334X
Copyright Information: © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited 2020.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), John Templeton Foundation (JTF), Royal Society
Projects and Grants: Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, Royal Society research grant, Leverhulme Fellowship, International Macquarie University Research Excellence Scholarship, Ian Potter Doctoral Fellowship, Australian Endeavour Scholarship
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2020 07:36
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 25%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 25%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410203 Ecosystem function @ 50%
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