Aim We investigate the relationship between local and regional richness in marine fouling assemblages using an expanded and globally replicated approach by incorporating two dimensions of diversity (taxonomic and functional) and different successional stages.
Methods In eight different biogeographic regions (Australia, Brazil, Chile, England, Italy, Japan, Portugal and Sweden) 68 polyvinylchloride (PVC) panels (15 × 15 × 0.3 cm) were deployed for colonization. Communities colonizing panels were analysed by measuring percentage cover at each of four different successional ages: 2, 4, 6 and 8 months. Local richness was assessed as the average number of species and functional groups (FGs) per panel and regional richness was evaluated as the estimated (Jack2) asymptote of the sample-accumulation curves for species and FG on experimental panels.
Results We found that the shape of the relationship between local and regional richness depended on successional stage and the type of richness considered, i.e. taxonomic or functional richness. Hardly any relationship was detectable between local taxonomic richness and regional taxonomic richness at any successional stage. In contrast, the relation between local functional and regional functional richness shows a unimodal pattern of change during succession, passing through the stages ‘independent’, ‘unsaturated rising’, ‘saturated rising’ and once again ‘independent’.
Main conclusions The relationship between local and regional richness, whether taxonomic or functional, frequently displays independence of the two scales, particularly in early and late phases of the successional process.