Regional-Scale Assembly Rules and Biodiversity of Coral Reefs

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science  25 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5521, pp. 1532-1535
DOI: 10.1126/science.1058635

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text


Tropical reef fishes and corals exhibit highly predictable patterns of taxonomic composition across the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Despite steep longitudinal and latitudinal gradients in total species richness, the composition of these key taxa is constrained within a remarkably narrow range of values. Regional-scale variation in reef biodiversity is best explained by large-scale patterns in the availability of shallow-water habitat. Once habitat area is accounted for, there is surprisingly little residual effect of latitude or longitude. Low-diversity regions are most vulnerable to human impacts such as global warming, underscoring the urgent need for integrated management at multinational scales.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: david.bellwood{at}

View Full Text