Global environmental predictors of benthic marine biogeographic structure
Analyses of how environmental factors influence the biogeographic structure of biotas are essential for understanding the processes underlying global diversity patterns and for predicting large-scale biotic responses to global change. Here we show that the large-scale geographic structure of shallow-marine benthic faunas, defined by existing biogeographic schemes, can be predicted with 89–100% accuracy by a few readily available oceanographic variables; temperature alone can predict 53–99% of the present-day structure along coastlines. The same set of variables is also strongly correlated with spatial changes in species compositions of bivalves, a major component of the benthic marine biota, at the 1° grid-cell resolution. These analyses demonstrate the central role of coastal oceanography in structuring benthic marine biogeography and suggest that a few environmental variables may be sufficient to model the response of marine biogeographic structure to past and future changes in climate.