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Latitudinal patterns of species diversity on South American rocky shores: local processes lead to contrasting trends in regional and local species diversity


Cruz-Motta, JJ and Miloslavich, P and Guerra-Castro, E and Hernandez-Agreda, A and Herrera, C and Barros, F and Navarrete, SA and Sepulveda, RD and Glasby, TM and Bigatti, G and Cardenas-Calle, M and Carneiro, PBM and Carranza, A and Flores, AAV and Gil-Kodaka, P and Gobin, J and Gutierrez, JL and Klein, E and Krull, M and Lazarus, JF and Londono-Cruz, E and Lotufo, T and Macaya, EC and Mora, C and Mora, E and Palomo, G and Parrague, M and Pellizzari, F and Retamales, R and Rocha, RM and Romero, L, Latitudinal patterns of species diversity on South American rocky shores: local processes lead to contrasting trends in regional and local species diversity, Journal of Biogeography, 47, (9) pp. 1966-1979. ISSN 0305-0270 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1111/jbi.13869



We evaluated whether patterns of species diversity (α, β and γ) of rocky shore assemblages followed latitudinal gradients (i.e. LDGs) along the South American coasts, and tested hypotheses related to potential processes sustaining or disrupting the expected LDG pattern at various spatial scales.


Coasts of South America.


Macroalgae and sessile/slow‐moving macrofauna on intertidal rocky shores.


We evaluated changes in species composition across 143 sites. The degree of replacement and loss of species at different spatial scales (i.e. coasts, regions and sites) were estimated to help distinguish among ecological, historical and evolutionary hypotheses for explaining LDGs. Furthermore, components of diversity and taxonomic distinctness were measured, and variability in these measures was decomposed using analysis of covariance. Finally, we examined relationships between diversity and a suite of environmental and anthropogenic variables to identify potential mechanisms that may be responsible for the reported spatial relationships.


Species composition varied with latitude, and this variability was relatively consistent on both coasts. At all spatial scales, replacement of species was the dominant phenomenon (>95%), rather than loss in the total number of species (<5%). LDGs were strongly dependent on the diversity component and the spatial scale: generally, positive for regional β‐diversity, negative for α‐diversity and site β‐diversity. Sea surface temperature (SST) was the variable that best explained patterns of diversity along both coasts (14%22%), but other regional and local environmental variables associated with river discharges, upwelling, confluence of currents, tides and anthropogenic pressures also accounted for an important portion of variation (5%14% each).

Main conclusions

Species diversity of South American rocky shores followed, with interruptions, LDGs. The trend of those LDGs, however, depended on the scale and metric used to describe diversity. It is proposed that patterns of LDGs at various scales are not the result of a single overarching process but are strongly influenced by local and regional processes. Although the most evident environmental gradient was the decrease in SST towards the south, it was demonstrated that regional and local environmental variables were also important for understanding the increase in regional β‐diversity towards the tropics.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:intertidal rocky shores, latitudinal diversity gradient, macroecology, Southeast Pacific, Southern Caribbean, Southwestern Atlantic, spatial scales, species diversity
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Coastal or estuarine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Miloslavich, P (Dr Patricia Miloslavich)
ID Code:143171
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:16
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2021-03-03
Last Modified:2021-11-23

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