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Latitudinal variation in local interactions and regional enrichment shape patterns of marine community diversity

Amy L. Freestone and Richard W. Osman
Ecology
Vol. 92, No. 1 (January 2011), pp. 208-217
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/29779589
Page Count: 10
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Latitudinal variation in local interactions and regional enrichment shape patterns of marine community diversity
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Abstract

While communities are shaped by both local interactions and enrichment from the regional species pool, we propose a hypothesis that the balance of these forces shifts with latitude, with regional enrichment dominating at high latitudes and local interactions dominating at low latitudes. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a latitudinal-scale experiment with marine epifaunal communities. In four regions of the North Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, we used mimics of ecosystem engineers to manipulate biogenic structural complexity. We iteratively evaluated diversity patterns of experimental communities up to one year after deployment. Additional data were also collected from one of our tropical sites 2.5 years after initial deployment. As hypothesized, we found a reciprocal latitudinal gradient in the effects of the structurally complex mimics and regional enrichment. In the tropics, local diversity was always higher in association with the mimics than in exposed areas that were more open to predation. This effect was consistent across two spatial scales and beyond the one-year timescale of the experiment. In temperate communities, no consistent effects of the mimics on diversity were observed. However, the proportion of species from the regional species pool that were present at the local scale increased from the tropics to the temperate zone, consistent with the hypothesis that higher-latitude communities may experience greater influence from the regional species pool than communities at low latitudes. This study represents the first large-scale experimental demonstration that suggests that the relative impact of local interactions and regional enrichment on community diversity may depend on latitude.

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