Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Integr Comp Biol. 2006 Jun;46(3):269-81. doi: 10.1093/icb/icj027. Epub 2006 Mar 29.

Dispersal and divergence across the greatest ocean region: Do larvae matter?

Author information

  • 1Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida Gainesville, FL 32611-7800, USA.


For marine, benthic animals, duration of planktonic larval stages is expected to correlate with dispersal ability, and thus species ranges, at least where planktonic dispersal is necessary to reach habitats. Yet past analyses of larval duration and species ranges across the insular Pacific show at most a weak correlation. So, do larvae matter in determining species ranges in such an island setting? We analyze an extensive dataset on cowries and find, again, that estimated larval duration does not correlate with species ranges. Several factors can obscure a real correlation, however, including estimation error, intraspecific variation, other factors affecting dispersal, poor taxonomy, and remote endemics. We show that taking these into consideration greatly improves correlation. Further evidence for the importance of larval duration comes from diversity and speciation patterns. Diversity of poor dispersers drops more rapidly eastward across the Pacific and leads to taxonomic differences in community composition across the basin. Geographic scale of differentiation is strongly influenced by larval duration and leads to the most rapid diversification at intermediate dispersal capacities. A major lesson from the phylogenetically corrected cowrie dataset is that without accurate and appropriate taxonomy, clear and important distributional and diversity patterns can become obscured. Inappropriate taxonomic scale can also obscure macroecological patterns: cowrie tribes/subfamilies show substantial variation in the steepness of their diversity cline across the Pacific and in their proportional local abundance, showing the importance of ecological traits in controlling distributions. In contrast such variation was not evident in a study focused at the family level in corals and fishes.

Free full text

LinkOut - more resources

Full Text Sources

Other Literature Sources


PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center