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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 641:25-47 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13306

Marine macroinvertebrate species-area relationships, assemblage structure and their environmental drivers on submarine banks

C. H. Stortini1,*, B. Petrie2, K. T. Frank1,2, W. C. Leggett2

1Department of Biology, Queen’s University, Kingston ON K7L 3N6, Canada
2Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth NS B2Y 4A2, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Modern extensions of the theory of island biogeography (TIB) posit that the slope of the species-area relationship (SAR) reflects the insularity of ecological communities and is strongly influenced by species’ motility. We explore the relative insularity of crustacean, echinoderm and mollusk/Cirripedia assemblages in terms of both alpha diversity (species richness) and assemblage structure (relative biomass of species). These taxa/groups differ in adult motility and larval dispersal capacity. The habitats of interest were 10 offshore banks on the Scotian Shelf, northwest Atlantic Ocean, a region dominated by the NE- to SW-flowing Nova Scotia Current (NSC). Banks in the NE tended to be larger, more heterogeneous, cooler, less saline, more retentive and more productive (higher chlorophyll a) than those in the SW. Only mollusks/Cirripedia, the least motile and dispersive group, had a significant SAR slope, supporting TIB. For crustaceans and echinoderms, temperature/salinity properties and habitat heterogeneity, respectively, were important predictors of alpha diversity. Inter-bank variation in crustacean assemblage structure was accounted for largely by bank location relative to the NSC; the leading variables accounting for echinoderm and mollusk/Cirripedia assemblage structure were retention time and mean annual chlorophyll concentration, respectively. Along the NE to SW axis of the NSC, there was a substantial loss of species (7 crustacean, 9 echinoderm and 13 mollusk/Cirripedia species) and decreases in the biomass of common cold-water species. A complex interplay of species motility/dispersal capacity, local oceanography and habitat properties determine the extent to which (1) TIB applies to submarine macroinvertebrate assemblages and (2) upstream and downstream assemblages are interconnected.


KEY WORDS: Species-area relationships · Larval transport · Macroinvertebrates · Island biogeography · Marine · Species traits · Biogeography · Motility · Dispersal capacity


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Cite this article as: Stortini CH, Petrie B, Frank KT, Leggett WC (2020) Marine macroinvertebrate species-area relationships, assemblage structure and their environmental drivers on submarine banks. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 641:25-47. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13306

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