Functional biogeography of coastal marine invertebrates along the south-eastern Pacific coast reveals latitudinally divergent drivers of taxonomic versus functional diversity


Characterizing the spatial structure of taxonomic and functional diversity (FD) of marine organisms across regional and latitudinal scales is essential for improving our understanding of the processes driving species richness and those that may constrain or enhance the set of species traits that define the functional structure of communities. Here, we present the functional diversity of coastal invertebrate macrofaunal species along the south-eastern Pacific from 7°N to 56°S, describe spatial variation of species traits, and examine the relationship with environmental variables. For that, we defined the functional traits and distribution ranges of 2350 marine macroinvertebrates calculated eight metrics of FD. Random forest regression was applied to identify significant relationships between FD and six environmental variables. Finally, functional β-turnover was estimated to detect alongshore shifts in functional structure and their coincidence with biogeographical domains. Our results show, in contrast with taxonomic richness that measures of trait differences, functional space and functional specialisation increase with latitude, while functional evenness exhibits a non-linear shape, peaking at mid latitudes. Functional redundancy decreased significantly poleward, while indicators of vulnerability increase. In contrast to taxonomic richness, FD was tightly connected to variables indicative of stress and productivity, such as dissolved oxygen and nutrients. Sea surface temperature and coastal area best explained the increased FD redundancy and richness towards the tropics. The high spatial correlation between taxonomic and functional turnover suggests environmental filters play an important role in the functional structure of the seascape. Our findings suggest that processes favouring taxonomic richness are latitudinally divergent from those favouring functional diversity. Correlations with environmental variables suggest that increased sea surface temperature and measures of stability increase redundancy, while variations in dissolved oxygen and nutrients positively affect functional diversification. Moreover, the functional diversity patterns suggest low resilience of high latitude coastal ecosystems, which are heavily exploited and threatened by climate change, hence highlighting the urgent need for effective conservation policies.


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