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Broad scale variation in seagrass benthic macrofaunal assemblages along the coast of Japan

Abstract

Broad scale studies in seagrass benthic macrofauna are important for future regional marine conservation. We examined spatial variation in the community structure of seagrass-associated benthic macroinvertebrates collected by sediment coring in 2010 at six seagrass sites of Japan covering the latitudinal range of 24°–43°N. Total species richness and ES(50) at site level did not show clear site variations and relationship with latitude. At core level, site variations of mean species richness, ES(50), Simpson diversity and abundance showed inconsistent pattern, but with more cases of statistically significant association with latitude. Variations were generally influenced by the seagrass species, often among subtropical species, among temperate Zostera species, and between Zostera and subtropical species. Finally, the community composition differed significantly across all sites and community similarity decreased rapidly with geographic distance, with only 5% similarity retained at the distance of 400 km. The dissimilarity among sites was higher with the similar distance compared to other types of coastal communities such as rocky intertidal assemblages, which is associated with minor occurrence of species with broad distributional range.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to M. Ito and other Hokkaido University students who provided laboratory assistance. We also thank K. Sudo, for providing additional information regarding environmental data; K. Momota, T. Takuya and M. Hashimoto for support in the identification of amphipod samples; K. Watanabe and F. Cabactulan for technical assistance. The data set was obtained from the Monitoring Sites 1000 Coastal Area Survey by the Ministry of the Environment, Japan. This study is partially supported by the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (S-9 Integrative Observations and Assessments of Asian Biodiversity, and S-15 Predicting and Assessing Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services (PANCES)) of the Ministry of the Environment, Japan.

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Correspondence to Masahiro Nakaoka.

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Leopardas, V., Hori, M., Mukai, H. et al. Broad scale variation in seagrass benthic macrofaunal assemblages along the coast of Japan. Ecol Res 33, 105–117 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11284-017-1517-5

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Keywords

  • Abundance and species diversity
  • Latitudinal gradient
  • Macroecology
  • Regional variation
  • Similarity–distance relationship