MEPS 567:29-40 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12065

Ocean currents and competitive strength interact to cluster benthic species range boundaries in the coastal ocean

James M. Pringle1,*, James E. Byers2, Ruoying He3, Paula Pappalardo2, John Wares

1Ocean Process Analysis Group, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA
2Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
3Department of Marine Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
4Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Dispersal of many coastal marine species is mediated by flows with strong directionality; bathymetric and topographic effects lead to strong alongshore variability in this transport. Using a simple model of the population dynamics of competing benthic species in a coastal ocean, we found that alongshore variability in dispersal can lead to clustering of species range boundaries for species whose dispersal is dominated by coastal currents. Furthermore, species can be absent from areas where they would have a relative competitive advantage because the presence or absence of a species is determined not only by local conditions but also by propagule supply, which is often affected by larval transport from far upstream. Our model demonstrates the quantitative linkages between alongshore variation in coastal currents, spatial gradients in competitive strength, and the geographic extent of a species. We show that the predictions of the model are consistent with observed species distributions in the Gulf of Maine and Mid-Atlantic Bight, USA. A mechanism for extensive coexistence of competing species where range boundaries cluster is described. The implication of the clustering highlighted by our model suggests that for species whose dispersal is dominated by long-distance planktonic periods, climate change induced changes in the relative competitiveness of species will lead to abrupt changes in species range boundaries and not gradual range extension.


KEY WORDS: Range limits · Drift paradox · Biogeography · Dispersal · Advection · Larvae


Full text in pdf format
Supplement 1
Supplement 2
 
Cite this article as: Pringle JM, Byers JE, He R, Pappalardo P, Wares J (2017) Ocean currents and competitive strength interact to cluster benthic species range boundaries in the coastal ocean. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 567:29-40. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12065

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
- -