Abstract:
The large-scale spatial distribution of seafloor fauna is still poorly understood. In particular, the bathyal zone has been identified as the key depth stratum requiring further macroecological research [1], particularly in the Southern Hemisphere [2]. Here we analyze a large biological data set derived from 295 research expeditions, across an equatorto- pole sector of the Indian, Pacific, and Southern oceans, to show that the bathyal ophiuroid fauna is distributed in three broad latitudinal bands and not primarily differentiated by oceanic basins as previously assumed. Adjacent faunas form transitional ecoclines rather than biogeographical breaks. This pattern is similar to that in shallow water despite the order-of-magnitude reduction in the variability of environmental parameters at bathyal depths. A reliable biogeography is fundamental to establishing a representative network of marine reserves across the world’s oceans
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