Global biodiversity patterns of marine phytoplankton and zooplankton

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Abstract

Although the oceans cover 70% of the Earth's surface, our knowledge of biodiversity patterns in marine phytoplankton and zooplankton is very limited compared to that of the biodiversity of plants and herbivores in the terrestrial world. Here, we present biodiversity data for marine plankton assemblages from different areas of the world ocean. Similar to terrestrial vegetation1-3, marine phytoplankton diversity is a unimodal function of phytoplankton biomass, with maximum diversity at intermediate levels of phytoplankton biomass and minimum diversity during massive blooms. Contrary to expectation, we did not find a relation between phytoplankton diversity and zooplankton diversity. Zooplankton diversity is a unimodal function of zooplankton biomass. Most strikingly, these marine biodiversity patterns show a worldwide consistency, despite obvious differences in environmental conditions of the various oceanographic regions. These findings may serve as a new benchmark in the search for global biodiversity patterns of plants and herbivores.

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