Animals, protists and bacteria share marine biogeographic patterns

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Over millennia, ecological and evolutionary mechanisms have shaped macroecological patterns across the tree of life. Research describing these patterns at both regional and global scales has traditionally focused on the study of metazoan species. Consequently, there is a limited understanding of cross-phylum biogeographic structuring and an escalating need to understand the macroecology of both microscopic and macroscopic organisms. Here we used environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding to explore the biodiversity of marine metazoans, protists and bacteria along an extensive and highly heterogeneous coastline. Our results showed remarkably consistent biogeographic structure across the kingdoms of life despite billions of years of evolution. Analyses investigating the drivers of these patterns for each taxonomic kingdom found that environmental conditions (such as temperature) and, to a lesser extent, anthropogenic stressors (such as fishing pressure and pollution) explained some of the observed variation. Additionally, metazoans displayed biogeographic patterns that suggested regional biotic homogenization. Against the backdrop of global pervasive anthropogenic environmental change, our work highlights the importance of considering multiple domains of life to understand the maintenance and drivers of biodiversity patterns across broad taxonomic, ecological and geographical scales.


  • biodiversity, community ecology, Marine Biology, molecular ecology, urban ecology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)738–746
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number6
Early online date15 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

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