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A New Dimension of Marine Biodiversity

Speaker: Dr. Hannah Owens, University of Copenhagen

Manifold studies exist to determine species richness drivers in terrestrial systems, but corresponding work is comparatively rare in the marine realm. However, marine biodiversity studies may be key to understanding broad-scale biodiversity patterns. Temperature and primary productivity, commonly invoked explanatory variables for biodiversity despite being tightly correlated on land, are decoupled in the open ocean. The discriminatory power of such an analysis further increases when considering depth, an oft-neglected axis along which species richness varies.

The presented work is a first look at depth-structured biodiversity patterns of three families of fishes in the Atlantic Ocean. Occurrence data for over 280 species of fishes were collected, used to generate 3D correlative ecological niche models (ENMs), and projected back into geographic space.

Finally, the resulting distributions were combined to map species richness as a continuous volume in the Atlantic. This analysis was all done using a recently established workflow facilitated by the R package voluModel. To better visualize species richness volumes, a new tool was created to map transects of species richness by depth within a given volume. The resulting plots emphasize that while horizontal diversity patterns differ among taxonomic groups, strikingly concordant patterns emerge when considering vertical biodiversity patterns. These patterns suggest that oceanographic processes beyond temperature and primary productivity may be shaping broad-scale species richness patterns in the open ocean.