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Among the most enduring ecological challenges is an integrated theory explaining the latitudinal biodiversity gradient, including discrepancies observed at different spatial scales. Analysis of Reef Life Survey data for 4127 marine species at 2406 coral and rocky sites worldwide confirms that the total ecoregion richness peaks in low latitudes, near +15°N and −15°S. However, although richness at survey sites is maximal near the equator for vertebrates, it peaks at high latitudes for large mobile invertebrates. Site richness for different groups is dependent on abundance, which is in turn correlated with temperature for fishes and nutrients for macroinvertebrates. We suggest that temperature-mediated fish predation and herbivory have constrained mobile macroinvertebrate diversity at the site scale across the tropics. Conversely, at the ecoregion scale, richness responds positively to coral reef area, highlighting potentially huge global biodiversity losses with coral decline. Improved conservation outcomes require management frameworks, informed by hierarchical monitoring, that cover differing site- and regional-scale processes across diverse taxa, including attention to invertebrate species, which appear disproportionately threatened by warming seas.
Research news | 2018-04-19
New study of UNESCO biosphere reserves sheds light on how people learn to live with social-ecological complexity
Research news | 2018-04-16
Entrepreneurs, NGO’s and others working on transforming the agricultural system into a more sustainable one struggle amid dominant focus on growth-oriented strategies
Research news | 2018-04-12
New documentary film highlights social-ecological challenges facing Ethiopia's food production systems
Educational news | 2018-04-12
Will help practitioners use resilience thinking as a tool to improve development practice
General news | 2018-04-12
The Stockholm Resilience Centre launches new voluntary system for staff to set targets to reduce emissions
Research news | 2018-04-11
Conservation efforts in tropical forest communities have great potential but must avoid exacerbating income inequalities