Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 2119–2124 | Cite as

A quantitative and statistical biological comparison of three semi-enclosed seas: the Red Sea, the Persian (Arabian) Gulf, and the Gulf of California

  • William B. Ludt
  • Link Morgan
  • James Bishop
  • Prosanta Chakrabarty
Original Paper


Similar habitats separated by great distances can provide remarkable examples of convergent evolution in biological diversity, and have been influential in our understanding of community ecology, historical biogeography, and evolution. Here, we compare three semi-enclosed seas in arid regions of the northern hemisphere, the Red Sea, the Persian (Arabian) Gulf, and the Gulf of California, and test whether they show similar biodiversity patterns. Despite large geographic separations between the seas, the similar shapes and latitudinal locations lead to several analogous abiotic conditions. These similarities, however, do not result in equivalent biodiversity patterns, even when correcting for different regional species pools. Comparisons revealed that the Red Sea contains a greater species diversity of vertebrates, but that the Gulf of California contains the greatest species diversity of invertebrates. Notably, vertebrate abundance patterns were statistically similar between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of California. Divergences are likely due to variable habitats within each sea, several influential abiotic differences, and dissimilar histories among the seas. While these results support a null hypothesis of biological dissimilarity despite abiotic similarities, they are the first statistical comparisons of the biotas of these three regions. Continued statistical comparisons among marine ecosystems have the potential to reveal ecological and evolutionary patterns that typically go unnoted.


Biodiversity Biogeography GBIF Rarefaction Species richness Climate change 



The authors thank all the museums that have uploaded their data to GBIF, for, without these data, this study would not have been possible. In addition, we thank W. Shaw, G. Soria, the University of Arizona, the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, J. Burt, and NYU Abu Dhabi for assistance and support during trips that inspired this research. We also thank, in no particular order: K. Harms, G. Bernardi, F. Alda, M.E. Hellberg, and J. Gutt for their helpful comments and discussions that aided this manuscript.

Supplementary material

12526_2017_740_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (43 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 43 kb)


  1. Alvarez-Borrego S (2010) Physical, chemical, and biological oceanography of the Gulf of California. In: Brusca RC (ed) The Gulf of California: biodiversity and conservation. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona, pp 24–48Google Scholar
  2. Al-Yamani FY, Bishop J, Ramadhan E, Al-Husaini M, Al-Ghadban AN (2004) Oceanographic atlas of Kuwait’s waters. Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Safat, KuwaitGoogle Scholar
  3. Al-Yamani F, Subba Rao DV, Mharzi A, Ismail W, Al-Rifaie K (2006) Primary production off Kuwait, an arid zone environment, Arabian Gulf. Int J Oceans Oceanogr 1(1):67–85Google Scholar
  4. Bailey GN, Flemming NC, King GC, Lambeck K, Momber G, Moran LJ et al (2007) Coastlines, submerged landscapes, and human evolution: the Red Sea Basin and the Farasan Islands. Coast Arch 2(2):127–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bellwood DR, Hughes TP (2001) Regional-scale assembly rules and biodiversity of coral reefs. Science 292(5521):1532–1535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bellwood DR, Wainwright PC, Fulton CJ, Hoey A (2002) Assembly rules and functional groups at global biogeographical scales. Funct Ecol 16(5):557–562CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blanchette CA, Wieters EA, Broitman BR, Kinlan BP, Schiel DR (2009) Trophic structure and diversity in rocky intertidal upwelling ecosystems: a comparison of community patterns across California, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand. Prog Oceanogr 83(1):107–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brusca RC, Findley LT, Hastings PA, Hendrickx ME, Torre Cosio J, van der Heiden AM (2005) Macrofaunal biodiversity in the Gulf of California. In: Cartron JE, Ceballos G, Felger RS (eds) Biodiversity, ecosystems, and conservation in Northern Mexico. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 179–203Google Scholar
  9. Buchanan JR, Krupp F, Burt JA, Feary DA, Ralph GM, Carpenter KE (2016) Living on the edge: vulnerability of coral-dependent fishes in the Gulf. Mar Pollut Bull 105(2):480–488. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.11.033 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Bunge J, Fitzpatrick M (1993) Estimating the number of species: a review. J Am Stat Assoc 88(421):364–373Google Scholar
  11. Cayuela L, Gotelli NJ, Colwell RK (2015) Ecological and biogeographic null hypotheses for comparing rarefaction curves. Ecol Monogr 85(3):437–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chamberlain S, Ram K, Barve V, Mcglinn D, Chamberlain MS (2015) Package ‘rgbif’. Computer programGoogle Scholar
  13. Chao A, Colwell RK, Lin CW, Gotelli NJ (2009) Sufficient sampling for asymptotic minimum species richness estimators. Ecology 90(4):1125–1133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chao A, Gotelli NJ, Hsieh TC, Sander EL, Ma KH, Colwell RK et al (2014) Rarefaction and extrapolation with Hill numbers: a framework for sampling and estimation in species diversity studies. Ecol Monogr 84(1):45–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. comte de Buffon GLL (1785) Natural history, general and particular, vol 6. W. Strahan and T. Cadell, LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. Corlett RT, Primack RB (2006) Tropical rainforests and the need for cross-continental comparisons. Trends Ecol Evol 21(2):104–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cowling RM, Rundel PW, Lamont BB, Arroyo MK, Arianoutsou M (1996) Plant diversity in Mediterranean-climate regions. Trends Ecol Evol 11(9):362–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cowman PF, Bellwood DR (2013) The historical biogeography of coral reef fishes: global patterns of origination and dispersal. J Biogeogr 40(2):209–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Darwin C (1859) On the origin of species. John Murray, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. DiBattista JD, Berumen ML, Gaither MR, Rocha LA, Eble JA, Choat JH et al (2013) After continents divide: comparative phylogeography of reef fishes from the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. J Biogeogr 40(6):1170–1181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. DiBattista JD, Howard Choat J, Gaither MR, Hobbs JPA, Lozano-Cortés DF, Myers RF et al (2016a) On the origin of endemic species in the Red Sea. J Biogeogr 43(1):13–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. DiBattista JD, Roberts MB, Bouwmeester J, Bowen BW, Coker DJ, Lozano-Cortés DF et al (2016b) A review of contemporary patterns of endemism for shallow water reef fauna in the Red Sea. J Biogeogr 43(1):423–439CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. García-Roselló E, Guisande C, Manjarrés-Hernández A, González-Dacosta J, Heine J, Pelayo-Villamil P et al (2015) Can we derive macroecological patterns from primary global Biodiversity information facility data? Glob Ecol Biogeogr 24(3):335–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gentry AH (1993) Four neotropical rainforests. Yale University Press, New Haven, ConnecticutGoogle Scholar
  25. Gotelli NJ, Colwell RK (2001) Quantifying biodiversity: procedures and pitfalls in the measurement and comparison of species richness. Ecol Lett 4(4):379–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gotelli NJ, Colwell RK (2011) Estimating species richness. In: Magurran AE, McGill BJ (eds) Biological diversity: frontiers in measurement and assessment. Oxford University Press, New York, 39–54Google Scholar
  27. Hill MO (1973) Diversity and evenness: a unifying notation and its consequences. Ecology 54(2):427–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hubbell SP (1997) A unified theory of biogeography and relative species abundance and its application to tropical rain forests and coral reefs. Coral Reefs 16(Suppl 1):S9–S21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kämpf J, Sadrinasab M (2006) The circulation of the Persian Gulf: a numerical study. Ocean Sci 2(1):27–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kassler P (1973) The structural and geomorphic evolution of the Persian Gulf. In: Purser BH (ed) The Persian Gulf. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, pp 11–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kelt DA, Brown JH, Heske EJ, Marquet PA, Morton SR, Reid JR et al (1996) Community structure of desert small mammals: comparisons across four continents. Ecology 77(3):746–761CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Klausewitz W (1989) Evolutionary history and zoogeography of the Red Sea ichthyofauna. Fauna of Saudi Arabia 10:310–337Google Scholar
  33. Kuronuma K, Abe Y (1986) Fishes of the Arabian Gulf. Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Safat, KuwaitGoogle Scholar
  34. Lambeck K (1996) Shoreline reconstructions for the Persian Gulf since the last glacial maximum. Earth Planet Sci Lett 142(1–2):43–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lavín MF, Castro R, Beier E, Cabrera C, Godínez VM, Amador-Buenrostro A (2014) Surface circulation in the Gulf of California in summer from surface drifters and satellite images (2004–2006). J Geophys Res Oceans 119(7):4278–4290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ledesma-Vázquez J, Carreño AL (2010) Origin, age, and geological evolution of the Gulf of California. In: Brusca RC (ed) The Gulf of California: biodiversity and conservation. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona, pp 7–23Google Scholar
  37. Ludt WB, Rocha LA (2015) Shifting seas: the impacts of Pleistocene sea-level fluctuations on the evolution of tropical marine taxa. J Biogeogr 42(1):25–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Marinone SG (2003) A three-dimensional model of the mean and seasonal circulation of the Gulf of California. J Geophys Res Oceans 108(C10)Google Scholar
  39. Nagy EA, Stock JM (2000) Structural controls on the continent-ocean transition in the northern Gulf of California. J Geophys Res Sol Earth 105(B7):16251–16269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pous S, Lazure P, Carton X (2015) A model of the general circulation in the Persian Gulf and in the Strait of Hormuz: intraseasonal to interannual variability. Cont Shelf Res 94:55–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Price ARG, Jones DA, Krupp F (2002) Biodiversity. In: Khan NY, Munawar M, Price ARG (eds) The Gulf ecosystem: health and sustainability. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, pp 105–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Raitsos DE, Pradhan Y, Brewin RJ, Stenchikov G, Hoteit I (2013) Remote sensing the phytoplankton seasonal succession of the Red Sea. PLoS One 8(6):e64909CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sbrocco EJ, Barber PH (2013) MARSPEC: ocean climate layers for marine spatial ecology. Ecology 94(4):979. doi: 10.1890/12-1358.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sheppard CRC, Price ARG, Roberts CM (1992) Marine ecology of the Arabian region: patterns and processes in extreme tropical environments. Academic Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  45. Steneck RS, Graham MH, Bourque BJ, Corbett D, Erlandson JM, Estes JA et al (2002) Kelp forest ecosystems: biodiversity, stability, resilience and future. Environ Conserv 29(4):436–459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Thomson DA, Lehner CE (1976) Resilience of a rocky intertidal fish community in a physically unstable environment. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 22(1):1–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Thomson DA, Findley LT, Kerstitch AN (2000) Reef fishes of the Sea of Cortez: the rocky-shore fishes of the Gulf of California. University of Texas Press, Austin, TexasGoogle Scholar
  48. Vaughan GO, Burt JA (2015) The changing dynamics of coral reef science in Arabia. Mar Pollut Bull 105(2):441–458. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.10.052 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Wills C, Harms KE, Condit R, King D, Thompson J, He F et al (2006) Nonrandom processes maintain diversity in tropical forests. Science 311(5760):527–531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Yao F, Hoteit I, Pratt LJ, Bower AS, Köhl A, Gopalakrishnan G et al (2014a) Seasonal overturning circulation in the Red Sea: 2. Winter circulation. J Geophys Res Oceans 119(4):2263–2289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Yao F, Hoteit I, Pratt LJ, Bower AS, Zhai P, Köhl A et al (2014b) Seasonal overturning circulation in the Red Sea: 1. Model validation and summer circulation. J Geophys Res Oceans 119(4):2238–2262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Yesson C, Brewer PW, Sutton T, Caithness N, Pahwa JS, Burgess M et al (2007) How global is the global biodiversity information facility? PLoS One 2(11):e1124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zeitzschel B (1969) Primary productivity in the Gulf of California. Mar Biol 3(3):201–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • William B. Ludt
    • 1
  • Link Morgan
    • 1
  • James Bishop
    • 2
  • Prosanta Chakrabarty
    • 1
  1. 1.Ichthyology Section, 119 Foster Hall, Museum of Natural Science, Department of Biological SciencesLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2.Ecosystem-based Management of Marine Resources, Environment and Life Science Research CentreKuwait Institute for Scientific ResearchSafatKuwait

Personalised recommendations