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Species range size distributions for some marine taxa in the Atlantic Ocean. Effect of latitude and depth

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The range size distributions of 6643 species in ten different fish and invertebrate taxa dwelling in pelagic (latitudinal range sizes) and benthic (latitudinal and depth range sizes) habitats on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean (80°N−70°S) were studied. The objectives were to analyse: (1) the range size distribution patterns for the various taxa and whether they have right/left skewed or lognormal distributions; (2) the geographical species distributions, to ascertain whether the distribution ranges change with latitude (Rapoport's rule); and (3) the relationship between the depth ranges of benthic species and their maximum depth of occurrence and how depth range size distributions change with latitude. The pelagic taxa exhibited larger range sizes than did the benthic taxa, continental slope/rise species excepted. On the other hand, the boundaries between geographical provinces for both benthic taxa and pelagic taxa tended to occur in association with major oceanographic processes. The shape of the latitudinal range frequency distributions (LRFDs) of the pelagic organisms were distinctly left-skewed, and the LRFDs for most taxa were significantly different from lognormal. There was no common pattern for the distributions of the benthic organisms, which were lognormal in Cephalopoda, Stomatopoda, and Crustacea Decapoda and tended to be left-skewed and significantly different from lognormal in Pisces. The applicability of Rapoport's rule was not clearly inferable from the results, and the rule appears to be conditioned by the location of biogeographical boundaries and the endemism rate in the different biogeographical provinces. A clear increase in depth range size with maximum depth range was observable for benthic species, confirming previous studies. Species’ depth range distributions displayed a discernible latitudinal pattern, right-skewed at high latitudes and left-skewed at low latitudes. The location of biogeographical boundaries, and endemism rate by biogeographical province were considered to be the factors most useful in explaining species’ distribution patterns and their conformity or nonconformity to Rapoport's rule. © 2003 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2003, 80, 437–455.
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Keywords: Atlantic Ocean; Rapoport's rule; biogeography; geographical range

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-11-01

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