Dispersal differences drive variation in food web biogeography
Top predators are often absent from spatially isolated habitats leading to the pervasive view that fragmented ecological communities collapse from the top down. These species at the top of the food chain are a critical part of healthy ecosystems, often acting as keystones maintaining ecosystem diversity. If predators disperse widely, serial influx of colonists could rescue isolated predator populations from extinction. Our study reveals that marine predator species richness is less sensitive than prey richness to habitat isolation, suggesting that tailoring management strategies to consider the role of biogeography in driving biodiversity within marine food webs. These results add to a growing body of evidence suggesting the careful consideration of organismal movement may help explain how ecological communities are structured across the globe. Given the suite of anthropogenic threats facing reef ecosystems and top predators more generally, a renewed focus on the mechanisms governing community structure is essential
The article is co-led by Andrew Hein and Adrian Stier and was co-authored by Valeriano Parravicini and Michel Kulbicki.
The abstract and full text of this article are availabe here at Nature.com here: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/141121/ncomms6575/full/ncomms6575.html