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Reef communities show predictable undulations in linear abundance size spectra from copepods to sharks


Heather, FJ and Stuart-Smith, RD and Blanchard, JL and Fraser, KM and Edgar, GJ, Reef communities show predictable undulations in linear abundance size spectra from copepods to sharks, Ecology Letters, 24, (10) pp. 2146-2154. ISSN 1461-023X (2021) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1111/ele.13844


Among the more widely accepted general hypotheses in ecology is that community relationships between abundance and body size follow a log-linear size spectrum, from the smallest consumers to the largest predators (i.e. ‘bacteria to whales’). Nevertheless, most studies only investigate small subsets of this spectrum, and note that extreme size classes in survey data deviate from linear expectations. In this study, we fit size spectra to field data from 45 rocky and coral reef sites along a 28° latitudinal gradient, comprising individuals from 0.125 mm to 2 m in body size. We found that 96% of the variation in abundance along this ‘extended’ size gradient was described by a single linear function across all sites. However, consistent ‘wobbles’ were also observed, with subtle peaks and troughs in abundance along the spectrum, which varied with sea temperature, as predicted by theory relating to trophic cascades.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Reef Life Survey, RLS, body size, epifauna, power law, secondary structure, sine curve, sinusoidal, size spectrum, size-based, UVC sampling bias
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:Heather, FJ (Dr Freddie Heather)
UTAS Author:Stuart-Smith, RD (Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)
UTAS Author:Blanchard, JL (Professor Julia Blanchard)
UTAS Author:Fraser, KM (Miss Kate Fraser)
UTAS Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
ID Code:146520
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2021-09-10
Last Modified:2021-11-29

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