Several studies have demonstrated a latitudinal gradient in the proportion of omnivorous fish species (that is, consumers of both vegetal and animal material) in marine ecosystems. To establish if this global macroecological pattern also exists in fresh and brackish waters, we compared the relative richness of omnivorous fish in freshwater, estuarine, and marine ecosystems at contrasting latitudes. Furthermore, we sought to determine the main environmental correlates of change in fish omnivory. We conducted a meta-analysis of published data focusing on change in the relative richness of omnivorous fishes in native fish communities along a broad global latitudinal gradient, ranging from 41°S to 81.5 N° including all continents except for Antarctica. Data from streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, estuaries, and open marine waters (ca. 90 papers covering 269 systems) were analyzed. Additionally, the relationship between the observed richness in omnivory and key factors influencing trophic structure were explored. For all ecosystems, we found a consistent increasing trend in the relative richness of omnivores with decreasing latitude. Furthermore, omnivore richness was higher in freshwaters than in marine ecosystems. Our results suggest that the observed latitudinal gradient in fish omnivory is a global ecological pattern occurring in both freshwater and marine ecosystems. We hypothesize that this macroecological pattern in fish trophic structure is, in part, explained by the higher total fish diversity at lower latitudes and by the effect of temperature on individual food intake rates; both factors ultimately increasing animal food limitation as the systems get warmer.
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We especially thank Sergio R. Floeter for facilitating data for marine ecosystems, Anne Mette Poulsen for manuscript editing and Tinna Christensen for figure layout, and to David Currie, Janne Soininen and Michael Pace and two anonymous reviewers whose comments greatly improved this manuscript. This project was supported by the EU projects WISER and REFRESH, by CRES, CIRCE, The Danish Council for Independent Research: Natural Sciences (272-08-0406), Greenland Climate Research Centre (GCRC Greenland Climate Research Centre (GCRC), FNU (16-7745), and ANII (National Research and Innovation Agency of Uruguay) FCE 2009-2530 and FCE 2009-2749. IGB, FTM, and MM were supported by SNI-ANII and PEDECIBA (Uruguay). MM was also supported by the national award by L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science, Uruguay (with support of DICyT). TD’s contribution was supported by Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship no. 255180 (PRECISE).
IGB, MM, and EJ conceived the idea; IGB collected the data, IGB and TD applied the statistical analysis; IGB, MM, and EJ were responsible for the manuscript preparation with the collaboration of TD, FTM, and ABP.
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González-Bergonzoni, I., Meerhoff, M., Davidson, T.A. et al. Meta-analysis Shows a Consistent and Strong Latitudinal Pattern in Fish Omnivory Across Ecosystems. Ecosystems 15, 492–503 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-012-9524-4
- latitudinal gradient
- temperature gradient
- trophic structure
- food webs
- digestive constraint
- scale invariance
- fish diet