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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 454:37-52 (2012)  -  DOI:

Nematode beta diversity on the continental slope of New Zealand: spatial patterns and environmental drivers

Daniel Leduc1,2,*, Ashley A. Rowden2, David A. Bowden2, Scott D. Nodder2, P. Keith Probert1, Conrad A. Pilditch3, Gerard C. A. Duineveld4, Rob Witbaard

1Department of Marine Science, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
2National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) Ltd, Private Bag 14-901, Kilbirnie, Wellington 6021, New Zealand
3Department of Biological Sciences, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand
4Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), PO Box 57, 1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands

ABSTRACT: The management of marine biodiversity relies on sound knowledge of beta (or turnover) and gamma (or regional) diversity patterns, but such knowledge is largely lacking for continental slope environments. Here, we used free-living nematodes to investigate spatial and environmental patterns of beta and gamma diversity on 2 major seabed features of the New Zealand continental slope, Chatham Rise and Challenger Plateau. Species gamma diversity on Chatham Rise was about twice that observed on Challenger Plateau, which likely reflected the greater number of sites sampled and greater range of environmental conditions encompassed by our sampling on the former. Mean Bray-Curtis dissimilarity in community structure/composition (i.e. beta diversity) between Chatham Rise and Challenger Plateau, though high (>80%), was only marginally greater than within-region dissimilarity, and the beta diversity patterns we observed were mainly driven by factors acting at smaller (i.e. among-site) spatial scales. Sediment physicochemical characteristics (i.e. microhabitat heterogeneity) were the main environmental driver of nematode species and genus beta diversity, and explained about a fifth of the variability. Spatial structure explained a similar proportion of species beta diversity, which, because our sampling strategy was designed to maximise the range of environments sampled across the study areas, may suggest an influence of environment at scales beyond that of the individual cores. A similarity profile test (SIMPROF) identified 9 sample groups based on species data, suggesting a relatively high level of heterogeneity on the open slope of New Zealand.

KEY WORDS: Chatham Rise · Challenger Plateau · Community structure · Sediment characteristics · Organic matter input · Habitat heterogeneity · Taxonomic resolution

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Cite this article as: Leduc D, Rowden AA, Bowden DA, Nodder SD and others (2012) Nematode beta diversity on the continental slope of New Zealand: spatial patterns and environmental drivers. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 454:37-52.

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