Species richness and the center of diversity in modern Indo-Pacific larger foraminifera
Symbiont-bearing Larger Benthic Foraminifera (LBF) are ubiquitous components of shallow tropical and subtropical environments and contribute substantially to carbonaceous reef and shelf sediments. Climate change is dramatically affecting carbonate producing organisms and threatens the diversity and structural integrity of coral reef ecosystems. Recent invertebrate and vertebrate surveys have identified the Coral Triangle as the planet’s richest center of marine life delineating the region as a top priority for conservation. We compiled and analyzed extensive occurrence records for 68 validly recognized species of LBF from the Indian and Pacific Ocean, established individual range maps and applied Minimum Convex Polygon (MCP) and Species Distribution Model (SDM) methodologies to create the first ocean-wide species richness maps. SDM output was further used for visualizing latitudinal and longitudinal diversity gradients. Our findings provide strong support for assigning the tropical Central Indo-Pacific as the world’s species-richest marine region with the Central Philippines emerging as the bullseye of LBF diversity. Sea surface temperature and nutrient content were identified as the most influential environmental constraints exerting control over the distribution of LBF. Our findings contribute to the completion of worldwide research on tropical marine biodiversity patterns and the identification of targeting centers for conservation efforts.