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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 430:281-288 (2011)  -  DOI:

An application of the theory of island ­biogeography to fish speciation on seamounts

Paul J. B. Hart*, Emma Pearson

Department of Biology, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK

ABSTRACT: Seamounts can be considered as islands in the deep. For many species, depth is just as much a barrier to dispersal as is the water between oceanic islands. This leads to the hypothesis that seamounts could be places where speciation readily occurs. Recent advances in the theory of island biogeography have allowed some detailed predictions about the degree of endemism and the diversity of species on oceanic islands. We have adapted this theory to seamounts, as underwater equivalents of islands. Three elements of this theory were tested as an illustration of what could be done, using published data on the diversity of reef-dwelling and benthic fish species found along the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain in the Pacific. Poor sampling makes it impossible at present to test the hypothesis that endemism is a humped function of seamount age. The data agrees with a further prediction that the total number of species is a humped function of seamount age. Finally, the prediction that fish diversity should be a function of seamount age and area is unsupported. We propose that the theory we have attempted to test could serve as a guide to what fish diversity might be expected from further sampling work.

KEY WORDS: Seamount · Island biogeography · Speciation · Hawaiian-Emperor Chain · Benthic and reef fish

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Cite this article as: Hart PJB, Pearson E (2011) An application of the theory of island ­biogeography to fish speciation on seamounts. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 430:281-288.

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