Global patterns of species diversity of macroalgae and seagrass forests.
Marine forests create essential habitats for coastal species and support invaluable ecological services. We provide global estimates of species richness of kelp, fucoid and seagrasses, by using species distribution models (stacked SDMs) linking occurrence records with relevant environmental predictors (e.g., light, temperature, salinity, nitrate, wave energy and ice coverage).
The mapped biodiversity can serve as new baselines for planning and prioritizing locations for conservation, management and climate change mitigation strategies.
Species richness of kelps is higher in the north-east Pacific (maximum 41 species) and lower at higher latitudes (e.g., Siberia and the Baltic Sea), where extensive ice coverage and low-salinity regimes prevail. Regions of high endemism are in the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, South Africa and East Russia.
Species richness of seagrasses is higher in Australia, south-east Asia, eastern Africa and the Red Sea (maximum 21 species) and lower in the temperate and colder regions of the northern hemisphere.
The information provided is available for download at the species level to assist conservation and managment strategies.