Planktivores as trophic drivers of global coral reef fish diversity patterns

Siqueira, Alexandre C., Morais, Renato A., Bellwood, David R., and Cowman, Peter F. (2021) Planktivores as trophic drivers of global coral reef fish diversity patterns. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118 (9). e2019404118.

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


One of the most prominent features of life on Earth is the uneven number of species across large spatial scales. Despite being inherently linked to energetic constraints, these gradients in species richness distribution have rarely been examined from a trophic perspective. Here we dissect the global diversity of over 3,600 coral reef fishes to reveal patterns across major trophic groups. By analyzing multiple nested spatial scales, we show that planktivores contribute disproportionally to the formation of the Indo-Australian Archipelago (IAA) marine biodiversity hotspot. Besides being “hotter” at the hotspot, planktivorous fishes display the steepest decline in species numbers with distance from the IAA when compared to other trophic groups. Surprisingly, we did not detect differences in diversification, transition, and dispersal rates in extant species phylogenies that would explain this remarkable gradient in planktivorous fish richness. Thus, we identify two potential complementary drivers for this pattern. First, exceptional levels of partitioning among planktivorous coral reef fishes were driven by temporally stable oceanographic conditions and abundant planktonic resources in the IAA. Second, extinctions of planktivores outside the IAA have been particularly pronounced during Quaternary climate fluctuations. Overall, our results highlight trophic ecology as an important component of global species richness gradients.

Item ID: 66576
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1091-6490
Keywords: Species richness; Macroecology; Trophic groups; Indo-Australian; Archipelago; Extinction
Related URLs:
Copyright Information: © 2021 Published under the PNAS license.
Additional Information:

A version of this publication was included as Chapter 3 of the following PhD thesis: Siqueira Correa, Alexandre (2020) The evolution, macroecology and biogeography of coral reef fishes: a trophic perspective. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), James Cook University (JCU)
Projects and Grants: ARC LF 190100062, ARC DE 170100516, JCU Postgraduate Research Scholarship
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2021 02:22
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310399 Ecology not elsewhere classified @ 70%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3104 Evolutionary biology > 310405 Evolutionary ecology @ 30%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 4
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page