MEPS - Vol. 553 - FEATURE ARTICLE

Geographic distance and connectivity by ocean currents shape the diversity of benthic assemblages on shallow reefs in the Mediterranean Sea (image from Capraia Island, Tuscan Archipelago). Photo: Lisandro Benedetti-Cecchi

Rattray A, Andrello M, Asnaghi V, Bevilacqua S, Bulleri F, Cebrian E, Chiantore M, Claudet J, Deudero S, Evans J, Fraschetti S, Guarnieri G, Mangialajo L, Schembri PJ, Terlizzi A, Benedetti-Cecchi L

 

Geographic distance, water circulation and environmental conditions shape the biodiversity of Mediterranean rocky coasts

An improved understanding of the processes underlying patterns of regional biodiversity is highly relevant to marine spatial planning, especially when assessing candidate sites for protection and inclusion in networks of marine protected areas. Rattray and colleagues examined the influence of geographic distance, connectivity by ocean currents and long-term environmental conditions on benthic β diversity of shallow rocky reefs in the Mediterranean Sea. Regional-scale patterns in species turnover of rocky reef benthos differed between ecoregions and depths. The relationship between species turnover and connectivity by ocean currents was regionally variable. Moreover, the relative influence of spatial and environmental processes on community structure varied substantially between study regions, but was remarkably similar between littoral and sublittoral sites within each ecoregion.

 

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