Regional variation in the hierarchical partitioning of diversity in coral-dwelling fishes

Jonathan Belmaker, Yaron Ziv, Nadav Shashar, Sean R. Connolly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The size of the regional species pool may influence local patterns of diversity. However, it is unclear whether certain spatial scales are less sensitive to regional influences than others. Additive partitioning was used to separate coral-dwelling fish diversity to its alpha and beta components, at multiple scales, in several regions across the Indo-Pacific. We then examined how the relative contribution of these components changes with increased regional diversity. By employing specific random-placement null models, we overcome methodological problems with local-regional regressions. We show that, although alpha and beta diversities within each region are consistently different from random-placement null models, the increase in beta diversities among regions was similar to that predicted once heterogeneity in coral habitat was accounted for. In contrast, alpha diversity within single coral heads was limited and increased less than predicted by the null models. This was correlated with increased intraspecific aggregation in more diverse regions and is consistent with ecological limitations on the number of coexisting species at the local scale. These results suggest that, apart from very small spatial scales, variation in the partitioning of fish diversity along regional species richness gradients is driven overwhelmingly by the corresponding gradients in coral assemblage structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2829-2840
Number of pages12
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Additive partitioning
  • Coral reefs
  • Fish
  • Gamma diversity
  • Scale
  • Similarity
  • Species diversity


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