Rapacciuolo G, Beman JM, Schiebelhut LM, Dawson MN

Documenting ecological patterns across spatially, temporally and taxonomically diverse ecological communities is necessary for a general understanding of the processes shaping biodiversity. A major gap in our understanding remains the comparison of diversity patterns across a broad spectrum of evolutionarily and functionally diverse organisms, particularly in the marine realm. Here, we aim to narrow this gap by comparing the diversity patterns of free-living microbes and macro-invertebrates across a natural experiment provided by the marine lakes of Palau: geographically discrete and environmentally heterogeneous bodies of seawater with comparable geological and climatic history, and a similar regional species pool. We find contrasting patterns of α-diversity but remarkably similar patterns of β-diversity between microbial and macro-invertebrate communities among lakes. Pairwise dissimilarities in community composition among lakes are positively correlated between microbes and macro-invertebrates, and influenced to a similar degree by marked gradients in oxygen concentration and salinity. Our findings indicate that a shared spatio-temporal and environmental context may result in parallel patterns of β-diversity in microbes and macro-invertebrates, in spite of key trait differences between these organisms. This raises the possibility that parallel processes also influence transitions among regional biota across the tree of life, at least in the marine realm.

Proceedings of the Royal Society B 286

Keywords: biogeography, macroecology, community assembly, microbes, macro-organisms

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