Leduc, D., Rowden, A., Bowden, D., Probert, P., Pilditch, C., & Nodder, S. (2012). Unimodal relationship between biomass and species richness of deep-sea nematodes: implications for the link between productivity and diversity. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 454, 53-64.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/7218
Describing large-scale patterns of biological diversity is a first step towards understanding the mechanisms that generate and maintain diversity. The highly diverse deep-sea floor is the largest ecosystem on Earth, but the productivity-diversity relationship in this biome is not well characterized. We investigated this relationship by using biomass of nematodes as a proxy for productivity (particulate organic carbon flux to the seabed). We used sample data collected from the New Zealand and Antarctic regions and combined these with published data from around the globe for broader analyses. There was a significant unimodal relationship between nematode biomass and diversity, i.e. expected number of species, ES(51) both within the New Zealand region and across ocean basins. This relationship remained significant after accounting for the effects of both water depth and nematode abundance. These findings support earlier suggestions of a unimodal productivity-diversity relationship in the deep sea that were based on other proxies (e.g. water depth, modelled particulate organic carbon flux). We argue that the 'productivity context' is of primary importance when determining the strength and nature of the relationship between other environmental factors and diversity. Studies that include either or both extremes of the productivity scale are likely to find that productivity is the main factor limiting deep-sea diversity, whereas those focusing on the intermediate productivity range are more likely to find that other factors (e.g. disturbance, habitat heterogeneity) play a role