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Regional-Scale Assembly Rules and Biodiversity of Coral Reefs

"Tropical reef fishes and corals exhibit highly predictable patterns of taxonomic composition across the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Despite steep longitudinal and latitudinal gradients in total species richness, the composition of these key taxa is constrained within a remarkably narrow range of values. Regional-scale variation in reef biodiversity is best explained by large-scale patterns in the availability of shallow-water habitat. Once habitat area is accounted for, there is surprisingly little residual effect of latitude or longitude. Low-diversity regions are most vulnerable to human impacts such as global warming, underscoring the urgent need for integrated management at multinational scales." Species diversity found to be tied to availability of shallow-water habitat and thus impacted by shallow-water and coastal development.
David R. Bellwood, Terry P. Hughes
James Cook University
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