Document Type


Publication Date


Subject: LCSH

Marine ecology, Biotic communities


Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Marine Biology


We examined temporal changes in macrofaunal α- and β-diversity over several spatial scales (within patches, among patches, across landscapes and across regions) in Long Island Sound on the northeast USA coast. Regional ε-diversity was estimated at 144 taxa, however γ-diversity fluctuated over time as did α- and β-diversity components. Based on additive partitioning, patch- and region-scale β-diversity components generally had the highest contributions to γ-diversity; lower percentages were found at within-patch and landscape scales. Multiplicative diversity partitioning indicated highest species turnover at within- and among patch scales. For all partition results, within-patch and patch-scale β-diversity increased sharply when hypoxia impacted benthic communities. Spatial variation in diversity components can be attributed to the collection of different patch types at varying spatial scales and their associated habitats across the benthic landscapes, as well as gradients in depth and other estuarine-scale characteristics. Temporal variation in diversity components across spatial scales may be related to seasonal changes in habitat heterogeneity, species population dynamics, and seasonal disturbances. Rare species were significant and temporally consistent components of macrofaunal diversity patterns over different spatial scales. Our findings agree with other marine and terrestrial studies that show diversity components vary significantly over different spatial scales and the importance of habitat/landscape heterogeneity in supporting diversity. However, our results indicate that the relative contributions of scale-specific β-diversity components can also change significantly over time. Thus, studies of diversity patterns across patches and landscapes based on data collected at one time, or assembled into a single data set from different times, may not capture the full suite of diversity patterns that occur over varying spatial scales and any time-specific determinants of those patterns. Many factors that shape and maintain sedimentary communities vary temporally, and appear to play an important role in determining and maintaining macrofaunal diversity over different spatial scales.


CC-BY license. (C) 2013 Zajac et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Publisher Citation

Zajac RN, Vozarik JM, Gibbons BR (2013) Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Macrofaunal Diversity Components Relative to Sea Floor Landscape Structure. PLoS ONE 8(6): e65823. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065823