Deviation from neutral species abundance distributions unveils geographical differences in the structure of diatom communities

Pigani, E; Hay Mele, B; Campese, L; Ser-Giacomi, E; Ribera, M; Iudicone, D; Suweis,S
Science Advances 10, (2024)

In recent years, the application of metagenomics techniques has advanced our understanding of plankton com-munities and their global distribution. Despite this progress, the relationship between the abundance distribu-tion of diatom species and varying marine environmental conditions remains poorly understood. This study, leveraging data from the Tara Oceans expedition, tests the hypothesis that diatoms in sampled stations display a consistent species abundance distribution structure, as though they were sampled from a single ocean-wide metacommunity. Using a neutral sampling theory, we thus develop a framework to estimate the structure and diversity of diatom communities at each sampling station given the shape of the species abundance distribution of the metacommunity and the information of a reference station. Our analysis reveals a substantial temperature gradient in the discrepancies between predicted and observed biodiversity across the sampled stations. These findings challenge the hypothesis of a single neutral metacommunity, indicating that environmental differences substantially influence both the composition and structure of diatom communities

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