Taxonomic Structure: Species Composition
Terrestrial ecologists long ago remarked on the richness of the floras and faunas of tropical environments relative to colder climates. The diversification within many specific taxonomic groups is clearly greater in the tropics than in temperate latitudes, both in terrestrial and in marine environments. Coastal environments support many more species of invertebrates and fish than open ocean regions, probably a response to resource supplies; low numbers of species are common in depauperate, severe, and disturbed habitats. Such observations have spawned an abundant and contentious body of publications that have dealt with three major problems: first, how to quantify the clearly observable differences in diversity of species , second, how are such differences in taxonomic richness of communities generated and maintained, and third, what do such differences mean ecologically.