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

Citation

Fraser, Kate (2020), Production of mobile invertebrate communities on shallow reefs from temperate to tropical seas , Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.ngf1vhhrr

Abstract

Primary productivity of marine ecosystems is largely driven by broad gradients in environmental and ecological properties. In 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-standardised secondary production across biogeographic scales. 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 (~3500 km). Using a model selection procedure, epifaunal production was primarily a function of 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, geographic, 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, to ultimately improve understanding of altered energy transfer throughout food webs in the face of ocean warming and other anthropogenic impacts on marine ecosystems.

Funding

Australian Research Council, Award: DP170104668

Australian Research Council, Award: LP100200122