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1.  Species–energy relationships in deep-sea molluscs 
Biology Letters  2011;7(5):718-722.
Consensus is growing among ecologists that energy and the factors influencing its utilization can play overarching roles in regulating large-scale patterns of biodiversity. The deep sea—the world's largest ecosystem—has simplified energetic inputs and thus provides an excellent opportunity to study how these processes structure spatial diversity patterns. Two factors influencing energy availability and use are chemical (productive) and thermal energy, here represented as seafloor particulate organic carbon (POC) flux and temperature. We related regional patterns of benthic molluscan diversity in the North Atlantic to these factors, to conduct an explicit test of species–energy relationships in the modern day fauna of the deep ocean. Spatial regression analyses in a model-averaging framework indicated that POC flux had a substantially higher relative importance than temperature for both gastropods and protobranch bivalves, although high correlations between variables prevented definitive interpretation. This contrasts with recent research on temporal variation in fossil diversity from deep-sea cores, where temperature is generally a more significant predictor. These differences may reflect the scales of time and space at which productivity and temperature operate, or differences in body size; but both lines of evidence implicate processes influencing energy utilization as major determinants of deep-sea species diversity.
PMCID: PMC3169037  PMID: 21429909
species–energy; productivity; temperature; mollusc; diversity
2.  Sizing ocean giants: patterns of intraspecific size variation in marine megafauna 
PeerJ  2015;3:e715.
What are the greatest sizes that the largest marine megafauna obtain? This is a simple question with a difficult and complex answer. Many of the largest-sized species occur in the world’s oceans. For many of these, rarity, remoteness, and quite simply the logistics of measuring these giants has made obtaining accurate size measurements difficult. Inaccurate reports of maximum sizes run rampant through the scientific literature and popular media. Moreover, how intraspecific variation in the body sizes of these animals relates to sex, population structure, the environment, and interactions with humans remains underappreciated. Here, we review and analyze body size for 25 ocean giants ranging across the animal kingdom. For each taxon we document body size for the largest known marine species of several clades. We also analyze intraspecific variation and identify the largest known individuals for each species. Where data allows, we analyze spatial and temporal intraspecific size variation. We also provide allometric scaling equations between different size measurements as resources to other researchers. In some cases, the lack of data prevents us from fully examining these topics and instead we specifically highlight these deficiencies and the barriers that exist for data collection. Overall, we found considerable variability in intraspecific size distributions from strongly left- to strongly right-skewed. We provide several allometric equations that allow for estimation of total lengths and weights from more easily obtained measurements. In several cases, we also quantify considerable geographic variation and decreases in size likely attributed to humans.
PMCID: PMC4304853  PMID: 25649000
Body size; Megafauna; Allometry; Cline; Intraspecific variation
3.  Unravelling the determinants of insular body size shifts 
Biology Letters  2013;9(1):20120989.
The island rule, a pattern of size shifts on islands, is an oft-cited but little understood phenomenon of evolutionary biology. Here, we explore the evolutionary mechanisms behind the rule in 184 mammal species, testing climatic, ecological and phylogenetic hypotheses in a robust quantitative framework. Our findings confirm the importance of species’ ecological traits in determining both the strength and the direction of body size changes on islands. Although the island rule pattern appears relatively weak overall, we find strongest support for models incorporating trait, climatic and geographical factors in a phylogenetic context, lending support to the idea that the island rule is a complex phenomenon driven by interacting intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms. Overall, we find that different clades may be evolutionarily predisposed to dwarfism or gigantism, but the magnitude of size changes depends more on adaptation to the novel island environment.
PMCID: PMC3565520  PMID: 23234863
island rule; body size; mammal; niche; morphology; climate
4.  Dispersal, environmental niches and oceanic-scale turnover in deep-sea bivalves 
Patterns of beta-diversity or distance decay at oceanic scales are completely unknown for deep-sea communities. Even when appropriate data exist, methodological problems have made it difficult to discern the relative roles of environmental filtering and dispersal limitation for generating faunal turnover patterns. Here, we combine a spatially extensive dataset on deep-sea bivalves with a model incorporating ecological dynamics and shared evolutionary history to quantify the effects of environmental filtering and dispersal limitation. Both the model and empirical data are used to relate functional, taxonomic and phylogenetic similarity between communities to environmental and spatial distances separating them for 270 sites across the Atlantic Ocean. This study represents the first ocean-wide analysis examining distance decay as a function of a broad suite of explanatory variables. We find that both strong environmental filtering and dispersal limitation drive turnover in taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic composition in deep-sea bivalves, explaining 26 per cent, 34 per cent and 9 per cent of the variation, respectively. This contrasts with previous suggestions that dispersal is not limiting in broad-scale biogeographic and biodiversity patterning in marine systems. However, rates of decay in similarity with environmental distance were eightfold to 44-fold steeper than with spatial distance. Energy availability is the most influential environmental variable evaluated, accounting for 3.9 per cent, 9.4 per cent and 22.3 per cent of the variation in functional, phylogenetic and taxonomic similarity, respectively. Comparing empirical patterns with process-based theoretical predictions provided quantitative estimates of dispersal limitation and niche breadth, indicating that 95 per cent of deep-sea bivalve propagules will be able to persist in environments that deviate from their optimum by up to 2.1 g m−2 yr−1 and typically disperse 749 km from their natal site.
PMCID: PMC3311885  PMID: 22189399
distance decay; beta-diversity; niche; dispersal; approximate Bayesian computation; pattern-oriented modelling
5.  The dynamics of biogeographic ranges in the deep sea 
Anthropogenic disturbances such as fishing, mining, oil drilling, bioprospecting, warming, and acidification in the deep sea are increasing, yet generalities about deep-sea biogeography remain elusive. Owing to the lack of perceived environmental variability and geographical barriers, ranges of deep-sea species were traditionally assumed to be exceedingly large. In contrast, seamount and chemosynthetic habitats with reported high endemicity challenge the broad applicability of a single biogeographic paradigm for the deep sea. New research benefiting from higher resolution sampling, molecular methods and public databases can now more rigorously examine dispersal distances and species ranges on the vast ocean floor. Here, we explore the major outstanding questions in deep-sea biogeography. Based on current evidence, many taxa appear broadly distributed across the deep sea, a pattern replicated in both the abyssal plains and specialized environments such as hydrothermal vents. Cold waters may slow larval metabolism and development augmenting the great intrinsic ability for dispersal among many deep-sea species. Currents, environmental shifts, and topography can prove to be dispersal barriers but are often semipermeable. Evidence of historical events such as points of faunal origin and climatic fluctuations are also evident in contemporary biogeographic ranges. Continued synthetic analysis, database construction, theoretical advancement and field sampling will be required to further refine hypotheses regarding deep-sea biogeography.
PMCID: PMC2982252  PMID: 20667884
biogeography; deep sea; dispersal; range; vicariance; establishment
6.  Biodiversity and body size are linked across metazoans 
Body size variation across the Metazoa is immense, encompassing 17 orders of magnitude in biovolume. Factors driving this extreme diversification in size and the consequences of size variation for biological processes remain poorly resolved. Species diversity is invoked as both a predictor and a result of size variation, and theory predicts a strong correlation between the two. However, evidence has been presented both supporting and contradicting such a relationship. Here, we use a new comprehensive dataset for maximum and minimum body sizes across all metazoan phyla to show that species diversity is strongly correlated with minimum size, maximum size and consequently intra-phylum variation. Similar patterns are also observed within birds and mammals. The observations point to several fundamental linkages between species diversification and body size variation through the evolution of animal life.
PMCID: PMC2677615  PMID: 19324730
Metazoa; body size; biodiversity; niche; passive evolution; directed evolution
7.  Endemicity, Biogeography, Composition, and Community Structure On a Northeast Pacific Seamount 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(1):e4141.
The deep ocean greater than 1 km covers the majority of the earth's surface. Interspersed on the abyssal plains and continental slope are an estimated 14000 seamounts, topographic features extending 1000 m off the seafloor. A variety of hypotheses are posited that suggest the ecological, evolutionary, and oceanographic processes on seamounts differ from those governing the surrounding deep sea. The most prominent and oldest of these hypotheses, the seamount endemicity hypothesis (SMEH), states that seamounts possess a set of isolating mechanisms that produce highly endemic faunas. Here, we constructed a faunal inventory for Davidson Seamount, the first bathymetric feature to be characterized as a ‘seamount’, residing 120 km off the central California coast in approximately 3600 m of water (Fig 1). We find little support for the SMEH among megafauna of a Northeast Pacific seamount; instead, finding an assemblage of species that also occurs on adjacent continental margins. A large percentage of these species are also cosmopolitan with ranges extending over much of the Pacific Ocean Basin. Despite the similarity in composition between the seamount and non-seamount communities, we provide preliminary evidence that seamount communities may be structured differently and potentially serve as source of larvae for suboptimal, non-seamount habitats.
PMCID: PMC2613552  PMID: 19127302

Results 1-7 (7)