Predator diversity hotspots in the blue ocean

Worm, Boris, Lotze, H. K. and Myers, R. A. (2003) Predator diversity hotspots in the blue ocean PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 100 . pp. 9884-9888. DOI 10.1073/pnas.1333941100.

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Concentrations of biodiversity, or hotspots, represent conservation priorities in terrestrial ecosystems but remain largely unexplored in marine habitats. In the open ocean, many large predators such as tunas, sharks, billfishes, and sea turtles are of current conservation concern because of their vulnerability to overfishing and ecosystem role. Here we use scientific-observer records from pelagic longline fisheries in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to show that oceanic predators concentrate in distinct diversity hotspots. Predator diversity consistently peaks at intermediate latitudes (20–30° N and S), where tropical and temperate species ranges overlap. Individual hotspots are found close to prominent habitat features such as reefs, shelf breaks, or seamounts and often coincide with zooplankton and coral reef hotspots. Closed-area models in the northwest Atlantic predict that protection of hotspots outperforms other area closures in safeguarding threatened pelagic predators from ecological extinction. We conclude that the seemingly monotonous landscape of the open ocean shows rich structure in species diversity and that these features should be used to focus future conservation efforts.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > Institute for Marine Science Kiel
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1073/pnas.1333941100
ISSN: 0027-8424
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2009 18:51
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2016 13:10

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