Latitudinal clines in species diversity in limnic and terrestrial habitats have been noted for well over a century and are consistent across many taxonomic groups. However, studies in marine systems over the past 2 to 3 decades have yielded equivocal results. We conducted initial analyses of the MarBEF (EU Network of Excellence for Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function) database to test for trends in local and regional diversity over the latitudinal extent of European continental-shelf waters (36° to 81° N). Soft-sediment benthic macrofauna exhibit little evidence of a latitudinal cline in local (a-) diversity measures. Relationships with water depth were relatively strong and complex. Statistically significant latitudinal trends were small and positive, suggesting a modest increase in diversity with latitude once water-depth covariates were removed. These results are consistent regardless of whether subsets of the database were used, replicates were pooled, or component taxonomical groups were evaluated separately. Local and regional diversity measures were significantly and positively correlated. Scientific cooperation through data-sharing is a powerful tool with which to address fundamental ecological and evolutionary questions relating to large-scale patterns and processes.
Macroben: Macroben database (Marbef Theme 1 workshop), more