Decomposing diversity patterns of a soft-bottom macroinvertebrate community in the tropical eastern Pacific
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TitleDecomposing diversity patterns of a soft-bottom macroinvertebrate community in the tropical eastern Pacific
[Abstract] Diversity is one of the most frequently used attributes of ecological communities, and there is a long-standing discussion about their adequate use, calculus and interpretation. One of the most conspicuous and simple diversity estimators is species richness, but it has been criticized by recurrent pitfalls, which has biased comparisons and the testing of hypotheses. Otherwise, synthetic ecological indices of diversity are difficult to interpret due the underlying complex or cryptic concepts. Most of the studies in soft-bottom macroinvertebrate communities trying to estimate richness species, have actually quantified species diversity as species density, the number of species per unit area. In the present study, the diversity of a tropical Pacific soft bottom community is analytically decomposed using two null models to assess species richness and evenness, and the slope of species-area curves to estimate species density. A declining trend of species richness was observed along a 2-year period and could be related to the cumulative effects of interannual environmental variability and fishing disturbance. The species-area relationship could be considered a good indicator of spatial heterogeneity, specifically to illustrate the depth gradient. Local abundance was negatively correlated with evenness, showing that high-density communities are the result of increases in abundance of a few dominant species. Here we demonstrate that seasonality, depth and abundance could explain diversity in soft-bottom macroinvertebrate communities of coastal waters and propose a robust procedure to survey diversity as a part of monitoring programs of coastal management.