Global patterns in species richness of pelagic seabirds: The procellariiformes

Steven L. Chown, Kevin J. Gaston, Paul H. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Quantitative information on large scale spatial patterns of biodiversity remains poor, especially for pelagic systems. In this paper the regional diversity of procellariiforms is mapped worldwide at the species level. These seabirds do not display a conventional latitudinal gradient of decreasing species richness towards high latitudes, but rather are most speciose between 37°and 59°S in all ocean basins. Based on data for foraging ranges, areas with the highest species richness and the most species with smaller range sizes are all found in the vicinity of New Zealand and its sub-Antarctic islands. In contrast, data for breeding ranges show islands in the southern Indian and Atlantic oceans to have the highest number of breeding species, while these islands and New Zealand have the most species with smaller range sizes. No northern hemisphere regions are amongst the top ten grid cells for foraging and breeding species richness, although Hawaii has the highest species richness of procellariiforms north of the equator. Northern Baja California, Madeira, the Canary islands, and the west coast of South America are all important sites of narrow endemism in the northern hemisphere. High species richness and narrow endemism coincide with areas of significant longline fishing activity in the southern hemisphere. Near-minimum sets based on one and three representations demonstrate that if all procellariiform species are to be retained, large areas of the ocean and almost all breeding sites require conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-350
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes

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