Diversity in deep-sea benthic macrofauna: the importance of local ecology, the larger scale, history and the Antarctic

John D Gage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

67 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

High diversity in macrobenthos in the deep sea still lacks satisfactory explanation, even if this richness may not be exceptional compared to that in coastal soft sediments. Explanations have assumed a highly ecologically interactive, saturated local community with co-existence controlled by either niche heterogeneity, or spatio-temporal heterogeneity embodying disturbance. All have failed to provide convincing support. Local/regional scale biodiversity relationships support the idea of local richness in macrobenthos being predominantly dependent on the larger, rather local scale. Local-scale ecological interactions seem unlikely to have overriding importance in co-existence of species in the deep sea, even for relatively abundant, 'core' species with wide distributions. Variety in observed larger-scale pattern and the strong inter-regional pattern, particularly in the poorly known southern hemisphere, seem to have a pluralistic causation. These include regional-scale barriers and extinctions (e.g., Arctic), and ongoing adaptive zone re-colonisation (e.g., Mediterranean), along with other historical constraints on speciation and migration of species caused by changes in ocean and ocean-basin geometry. At the global scale lack of knowledge of the Antarctic deep sea, for example, blocks coherent understanding of latitudinal species diversity gradients. We need to reconcile emerging understanding of large-scale historical variability in the deep-sea environment-with massive extinctions among microfossil indicators as recently as the Pliocene-to results from cladistic studies indicating ancient lineages, such as asellote isopods, that have evolved entirely within the deep sea. The degree to which the great age, diversity, and high degree of endemism in Antarctic shelf benthos, might have enriched biodiversity in the adjacent deep seas basins remains unclear. Basin confluence with the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans may have encouraged northwards dispersion of species from and into the deep Antarctic basins so that any regional identity is superficial. Interpretation of the Antarctic deep sea as a diversity pump for global deep-sea biodiversity may simply reflect re-colonisation, via basin confluence, of northern hemisphere areas impoverished by the consequences of rapid environmental change during the Quaternary. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1689-1708
Number of pages20
JournalDEEP-SEA RES PT II
Volume51
Issue number14-16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Keywords

  • ORIGIN
  • RICHNESS
  • CONTINENTAL-SLOPE
  • REGIONAL PROCESSES
  • ROCKALL-TROUGH
  • COMMUNITY STRUCTURE
  • PATTERNS
  • PACIFIC-OCEAN
  • Oceanography
  • SPECIES-DIVERSITY
  • NORTHEAST ATLANTIC

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