Large scale ocean connectivity and planktonic body size

by Ernesto Villarino, James R. Watson, Bror Jönsson, Josep M. Gasol, Carlos M. Duarte
Research article Year: 2018 ISSN: 2041-1723 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02535-8


Villarino, Ernesto, James R. Watson, Bror Jönsson, Josep M. Gasol, Guillem Salazar, Silvia G. Acinas, Marta Estrada et al. "Large-scale ocean connectivity and planktonic body size." Nature communications 9, no. 1 (2018): 1-13.


Global patterns of planktonic diversity are mainly determined by the dispersal of propagules with ocean currents. However, the role that abundance and body size play in determining spatial patterns of diversity remains unclear. Here we analyse spatial community structure - β-diversity - for several planktonic and nektonic organisms from prokaryotes to small mesopelagic fishes collected during the Malaspina 2010 Expedition. β-diversity was compared to surface ocean transit times derived from a global circulation model, revealing a significant negative relationship that is stronger than environmental differences. Estimated dispersal scales for different groups show a negative correlation with body size, where less abundant large-bodied communities have significantly shorter dispersal scales and larger species spatial turnover rates than more abundant small-bodied plankton. Our results confirm that the dispersal scale of planktonic and micro-nektonic organisms is determined by local abundance, which scales with body size, ultimately setting global spatial patterns of diversity.