Understanding regional species diversity through the log series distribution of occurrences



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The distribution of benthic foraminifera around the continental margins of North America is extensively documented. Data from 2673 localities consists of a synonomized list of 2329 species (S) and 61 369 occurrences (n). Here, the margins are divided into five geographical regions: Pacific (PA), S=965, n=19 014; Arctic (AR), S=458, n=7342; Atlantic (AT), S=878, n=10 034; Gulf of Mexico (GM), S=849, n=18 011; Caribbean (CR), S=1188, N=6968. As for many other organisms, species richness is lowest in the Arctic and highest in the Caribbean. In each region, the distribution of species richness and occurrences is a log series. Consequently, the entire series of species occurrences is predicted by the single proportionality constant, α. After log series rarefaction, differences in species richness among areas are nearly all accounted for by species occurring ≤10 times. Most of the differences are accounted for by species occurring once, less by twice, and so on. For example, species occurring once account for 81% of the difference in species richness between the Atlantic and Caribbean, and those occurring once and twice account for 87% of the difference. Most rare species have no fossil record and most endemic species are rare. Probably most of these species evolved recently indicating more origination in species-rich areas. High origination might also be coupled with less extinction. Although each of the five regions can easily be distinguished by differences in composition, in all regions the 10 most abundantly occurring species exhibit nearly equal proportions of occurrences. No region is dominated by only one or two species. All regions exhibit the log series distribution, have nearly equal proportions for abundant species, and differ only in the number of rare species that coexist. Thus, from the point of view of the distribution of occurrences, the most striking aspect is the similarity among regions.