Document Type

Journal Article




Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Natural Sciences / Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research




This article was originally published as: Smale, D., Kendrick, G., & Wernberg, T. (2011). Subtidal macroalgal richness, diversity and turnover, at multiple spatial scales, along the southwestern Australian coastline. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 91(2), 224-231. Original article available here


Patterns of species richness are governed by processes that act at vastly different spatial scales. In the marine system of southwest Australia, macroalgal assemblage structure and richness is thought to be strongly influenced by both the Leeuwin Current, which acts at large regional spatial scales, and small-scale processes such as competition, wave disturbance and habitat heterogeneity. We examined macroalgal species richness and diversity at multiple spatial scales using a three-factor hierarchal design. Spatial extents ranged from metres (between quadrats) to many hundreds of kilometres (between regions), and the study encompassed almost 2000 km of temperate coastline. Macroalgal assemblages were highly speciose and the number, identity, and diversity of species varied considerably at all spatial scales. Small scale variability, at the scale of site or quadrat, contributed most to total variation in species richness and diversity, suggesting that small-scale processes are important drivers of ecological pattern in this system. Species richness, diversity and taxonomic distinctness increased sequentially along the coastline, from warmer to cooler waters. Small scale variability was most likely maintained by wave disturbance and habitat heterogeneity at these scales, while regional scale diversity and richness clines were attributed to the fact that most species had cool-water affinities and the southern coast of Australia is a hotspot of floral speciation and diversity. Macroalgal assemblages in southwest Australia are speciose and largely endemic, and biodiversity patterns are structured by multiple processes operating at multiple spatial scales


Link to publisher version (DOI)