3 years ago

The diversity and biogeography of abundant and rare intertidal marine microeukaryotes explained by environment and dispersal limitation

Bridget Holohan, Yongbo Pan, Huihuang Chen, Jamie Vaudrey, George B. McManus, Senjie Lin, Jun Yang, Wenjing Zhang
Benthic microeukaryotes are key ecosystem drivers in marine sandy beaches, an important and dynamic environment; however, little is known about their diversity and biogeography on a large spatial scale. Here we investigated the community composition and geographical distributions of benthic microeukaryotes using high-throughput sequencing of the 18S rDNA, and quantified the contributions of environmental factors and spatial separation on the distribution patterns of both rare and abundant taxa. We collected 36 intertidal samples at 12 sandy beaches from four regions that spanned distances from 0.001 to 12,000 km. We found 12890 operational taxonomic units (OTUs; 97% sequence identity level) including members of all eukaryotic super-groups and several phyla of uncertain position. Arthropoda and Diatomeae dominated the sequence reads in abundance, but Ciliophora and Discoba were the most diverse groups across all samples. About one-third of the OTUs could not be definitively classified at a similarity level of 80%, supporting the view that a large number of rare and minute marine species may have escaped previous characterization. We found generally similar geographical patterns for abundant and rare microeukaryotic sub-communities and both showed a significant distance-decay similarity trend. Variation partitioning showed that both rare and abundant sub-communities exhibited a slightly stronger response to environmental factors than spatial (distance) factors. However, the abundant sub-community was strongly correlated with variations in spatial, environmental and sediment grain size factors (66% of variance explained), but the rare assemblage was not (16%). This suggests that different or more complex mechanisms generate and maintain diversity in the rare biosphere in this habitat. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.13916

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