Anomalous Diversity of Some Seagrass-Associated Fauna in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida
Animals associated with the seagrass canopy (epifauna) constitute a major parallel element of seagrass communities over a wide range of latitudes. Diversities of several taxa have been compared along a wide latitudinal gradient (Virnstein et al., 1984). For all taxa, diversity decreases with increasing latitude. However, for some taxa, the diversity in the Indian River Lagoon is either much higher or much lower than expected, based on this relationship with latitude. For example, there are fewer than half as many species of amphipods as expected, despite extensive sampling. Conversely, there are three times as many species of fish as expected. The explanation of these conflicting anomalies lies in the recruitment capabilities of the respective groups. I propose the “overlap vs. gap hypothesis”: In highly variable or disturbed areas, high diversity occurs in taxa with high recruitment and dispersal capabilities (like fish) as a result of overlapping species ranges. Low diversity occurs in taxa with poor recruitment and dispersal capabilities (like amphipods and isopods, which have no planktonic dispersal stage) as a result of some temperate species' ranges not extending south into the lagoon and some tropical species' ranges not extending north into the lagoon. In highly variable areas, the diversity of a taxon is proportional to the taxon's ability to recruit from outside the area.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1995-07-01
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