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Area-dependent patterns of finfish diversity in a large marine ecosystem
Frank, K.T.; Shackell, N.L. (2001). Area-dependent patterns of finfish diversity in a large marine ecosystem. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 58(9): 1703-1707
In: Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences = Journal canadien des sciences halieutiques et aquatiques. National Research Council Canada: Ottawa. ISSN 0706-652X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Frank, K.T.
  • Shackell, N.L.

    The species-area relationship (SAR) is considered a cornerstone of terrestrial and freshwater ecology and conservation. It has rarely been examined in a large marine ecosystem because it has been assumed that sufficient data are lacking and (or) the scales of oceanic systems are too large. Using data drawn from fishery surveys, we show a positive relationship between the number of finfish species and the area of submarine, offshore banks on the continental shelf off eastern Canada. Banks of similar size yielded similar species richness regardless of the distance between them. Area per se had a stronger influence on species number than did habitat diversity. The slope of SAR observed is consistent with the tendency for many of the species to be highly migratory with widely dispersing offspring. This results in strong interactions among banks. The combined densities of all species increased with bank area, suggesting that larger banks have higher resources per unit area. Populations and species on larger banks should be more resilient to local extinctions relative to those on smaller banks, and natural or human-induced perturbations might be expected to impact the community structure of the small, extinction-prone populations at a faster rate.

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