Population Ecology

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 159–170 | Cite as

Latitudinal gradient of species diversity: multi-scale variability in rocky intertidal sessile assemblages along the Northwestern Pacific coast

  • Takehiro Okuda
  • Takashi Noda
  • Tomoko Yamamoto
  • Norihiko Ito
  • Masahiro Nakaoka
Original Article Special Feature: Multiple spatial scale approaches in population and community ecology


This study examined the latitudinal gradient of species diversity of rocky intertidal sessile assemblages on the slopes of rocks along the Northwestern Pacific coast of Japan, located between 31°N and 43°N, by explicitly incorporating an hierarchical spatial scale into the monitoring design. The specific questions were to examine: (1) whether there is a latitudinal gradient of regional diversity, (2) how spatial components of the regional diversity (local diversity and turnover diversity) vary with latitude depending on spatial scale, and (3) whether the latitudinal gradient differs between different measures of species diversity, i.e. species richness and Simpson’s diversity index. We measured coverage and the presence or absence of all sessile organisms in a total of 150 census plots established at five shores in each of six regions. The results showed that there were clear latitudinal gradients in regional species richness and in species turnover among shores. However, these patterns were not reflected in smaller-scale local species richness. For Simpson’s diversity index, there was no evidence of latitudinal clines either in regional diversity or in spatial components. These results suggest that relative abundance of common species does not vary along latitude, while the number of rare species increases with decreasing latitude.


Species richness Simpson’s diversity index Hierarchical spatial scale Diversity component α-, β-, and γ-diversity 



This work was made possible by the generous support and encouragement of local fishermen and the fishery officers of the Fisherman’s Cooperative Associations in Hokkaido, Iwate, Chiba, Wakayama, and Kagoshima Prefectures. We are grateful to staff and students at Akkeshi Marine Station of Hokkaido University, International Coastal Research Center of Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, Marine Biosystems Research Center of Chiba University, Seto Marine Biological Laboratory of Kyoto University, and the Education and Research Center for Marine Environment and Resources of Kagoshima University for field and laboratory facilities. We thank S. Hashizume, T. Yamanoi, M. Takahata, N. Kouchi, Y. Ishikawa, T. Tatematsu, S. Ninomiya, and R. Shimamura for their help in the fieldwork, H. Yasui, T. Hasegawa, T. Sasaki, M. Takahata, N. Kouchi for taxonomic identifications of intertidal organisms, and M. Hori for discussions and comments. This research was supported by grants-in-aid from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (No. 14340242).


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Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer-Verlag Tokyo 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takehiro Okuda
    • 1
  • Takashi Noda
    • 1
  • Tomoko Yamamoto
    • 2
  • Norihiko Ito
    • 3
  • Masahiro Nakaoka
    • 3
  1. 1.Graduate School of Fisheries SciencesHokkaido UniversityHakodate 041-8611Japan
  2. 2.Faculty of Fisheries SciencesKagoshima UniversityKagoshimaJapan
  3. 3.Graduate School of Science and TechnologyChiba UniversityInageJapan

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