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Size-dependent species-area relationships in benthos: is the world more diverse for microbes?


  • Andrey I. Azovsky

A. I. Azovsky ( ), Dept of Hydrobiology, Biological Faculty, Moscow State Univ., Moscow 119899, Russia.


Using original and literature data on species richness, I compared the species-area relations for 5 different size classes of the Arctic benthos: macrofauna sensu lato, polychaetes, nematodes, ciliates and diatom algae. The data pool covered a wide range of areas from single samples to the whole seas. Both the slopes and intercepts of the curves depended significantly on the logarithm of the mean body size of the group. The number of small species (ciliates and diatom algae) showed relatively higher local diversity but increased more slowly with the area than the number of larger ones. Thus, both α- and β-components of species diversity of the marine benthos were size-dependent. As a consequence, the actual relations between number of species and their physical size are spatially scale-dependent: there are many more species of smaller size classes in any one local community, but at a global scope the situation changes drastically. The possible reasons are discussed, including dispersal efficiency, rates of speciation and size-dependent perception of environmental heterogeneity. Body size is suggested to be the important scaling factor in manifestation of so-called “general ecological laws”.