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Production of mobile invertebrate communities on shallow reefs from temperate to tropical seas


Fraser, KM and Lefcheck, JS and Ling, SD and Mellin, C and Stuart-Smith, RD and Edgar, GJ, Production of mobile invertebrate communities on shallow reefs from temperate to tropical seas, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 287, (1941) Article 20201798. ISSN 0962-8452 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

2020 The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society

DOI: doi:10.1098/rspb.2020.1798


Primary productivity of marine ecosystems is largely driven by broad gradients in environmental and ecological properties. By contrast, secondary productivity tends to be more variable, influenced by bottom-up (resource-driven) and top-down (predatory) processes, other environmental drivers, and mediation by the physical structure of habitats. Here, we use a continental-scale dataset on small mobile invertebrates (epifauna), common on surfaces in all marine ecosystems, to test influences of potential drivers of temperature-standardized secondary production across a large biogeographic range. We found epifaunal production to be remarkably consistent along a temperate to tropical Australian latitudinal gradient of 28.6, spanning kelp forests to coral reefs (approx. 3500 km). Using a model selection procedure, epifaunal production was primarily related to biogenic habitat group, which explained up to 45% of total variability. Production was otherwise invariant to predictors capturing primary productivity, the local biomass of fishes (proxy for predation pressure), and environmental, geographical, and human impacts. Highly predictable levels of epifaunal productivity associated with distinct habitat groups across continental scales should allow accurate modelling of the contributions of these ubiquitous invertebrates to coastal food webs, thus improving understanding of likely changes to food web structure with ocean warming and other anthropogenic impacts on marine ecosystems.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:macrofauna, epifauna, benthic ecosystems, trophic ecology, community ecology
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Fraser, KM (Miss Kate Fraser)
UTAS Author:Ling, SD (Dr Scott Ling)
UTAS Author:Mellin, C (Dr Camille Mellin)
UTAS Author:Stuart-Smith, RD (Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)
UTAS Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
ID Code:142469
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:9
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2021-01-19
Last Modified:2021-04-01
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