Ref ID : 4983

Bland J. Finlay and Tom Fenchel; Cosmopolitan Metapopulations of Free-Living Microbial Eukaryotes. Protist 155:237-244, 2004
Reprint : In File
Notes : Metapopulations of macroscopic organisms tend to be geographically restricted, but free-living protists and other microbial eukaryotes present a different picture. Here we show that most organisms smaller than 1 mm occur worldwide wherever their required habitats are realised. This is a consequence of ubiquitous dispersal driven by huge population sizes, and the consequently low probability of local extinction. Organisms larger than 10 mm are much less abundant, and rarely cosmopolitan. The supporting data, together with the discovery that the 1-10 mm size range accommodates a transition from cosmopolitan to regionally-restricted distribution, were derived from extensive inventories of eukaryotic species in a freshwater pond (1278 species), and a shallow marine bay (785 species). All accessible records were examined to establish the extent of global coverage by these species. Some groups of microbial eukaryotes are severely undersampled (e.g. naked amoebae; marine meiofauna in the southern hemisphere) but this fails to weaken evidence that metapopulations of microbial eukaryotes are cosmopolitan.