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Biodiversity trends along the Western European margin
Narayanaswamy, B.E.; Renaud, P.E.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; Berge, J.; Lavaleye, M.S.S.; Reiss, H.; Brattegard, T. (2010). Biodiversity trends along the Western European margin. PLoS One 5(12): e14295.
In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203; e-ISSN 1932-6203, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Narayanaswamy, B.E., more
  • Renaud, P.E., more
  • Duineveld, G.C.A., more
  • Berge, J., more
  • Lavaleye, M.S.S.
  • Reiss, H.
  • Brattegard, T., more

    The seas along the western European margin encompass a vast geographical area comprising numerous different habitats, and are home to more than 10,000 metazoan species. Although research in this extensive region has been undertaken since the early 1800s, many new species are being described and distributional patterns identified. Recent studies incorporating the most extensive data series ever used in such European studies have failed to find any relationship between latitude and infaunal shelf biodiversity. Along the European shelf, species richness generally increases to a depth of 200 m and then decreases from 300–500 m. In the deep Northeast Atlantic, a unimodal curve illustrates how macrofaunal species diversity changes with depth whilst the megafauna appear to have a bimodal distribution. Regional studies are equivocal in that poleward increases in species diversity have been observed in some studies or taxa, but not in others. In the North Sea, arguably the best studied system in European waters, there appears to be a distinct increase in diversity with increasing latitude. Since this trend is confounded by similar latitudinal gradients in depth and trawling intensity, there is no clear explanation for the biodiversity pattern. Climatic shifts in diversity patterns and species ranges have recently been observed. Here we report previously unpublished data on changes in species richness that have been observed along the Norwegian coast over the past two decades, with the most northerly region seeing more than a 15% increase in the number of species being discovered there. This review synthesizes published and new biodiversity data across multiple spatial and temporal scales, and from the coast to the deep-sea, to provide an overview of what is known along the western European margin. Threats to the biodiversity of the region are highlighted, as well as identifying where there are still gaps in our knowledge.

  • EurOBIS: European Ocean Biodiversity Information System, more

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