Marine Biology

, Volume 157, Issue 10, pp 2205–2213 | Cite as

Variation in size of living articulated brachiopods with latitude and depth

Original Paper


Geographical variations in animal characters are one of the main subjects for study in macroecology. Variation with latitude has received special interest. Articulated brachiopods are possibly the commonest macrofossil with large variations in size of taxa through the fossil record. Here, we investigate trends in size of the 3 main orders of articulated brachiopod with latitude and depth. Data were insufficient to identify patterns in Thecideida (a micromorph taxon only recorded from low latitudes). Rhynchonellida had no clear trends in size with latitude or depth. Terebratulida exhibited hemispheric differences in size relations, with increasing length of species towards the pole in the south and no significant trend in the north. Tropical species were small (<20 mm length between 10°N and 10°S), and the largest species were found between 30° and 60° latitude in both hemispheres. There were no articulated brachiopods recorded from the high arctic, and support for a continuous trend in size with latitude was small or absent. In Terebratulida, there was a significant decrease in species length with depth of 1.7 mm per 100 m depth increase. These trends could be explained by competition for space and reduced availability of habitat with progressive depth beyond the continental shelf.


Southern Hemisphere Continental Shelf Falkland Island Northern High Latitude Depth Horizon 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Ian Loch for loan of Australian Museum specimens and NIWA for the loan of specimens from cruises and sites around New Zealand.

Supplementary material

227_2010_1486_MOESM1_ESM.doc (624 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 624 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.British Antarctic SurveyNatural Environment Research CouncilCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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