Can we detect oceanic biodiversity hotspots from space?
De Monte, Silvia;
Understanding the variability of marine biodiversity is a central issue in microbiology. Current observational programs are based on in situ studies, but their implementation at the global scale is particularly challenging, owing to the ocean extent, its temporal variability and the heterogeneity of the data sources on which compilations are built. Here, we explore the possibility of identifying phytoplanktonic biodiversity hotspots from satellite. We define a Shannon entropy index based on patchiness in ocean color bio-optical anomalies. This index provides a high resolution (1 degree) global coverage. It shows a relation to temperature and mid-latitude maxima in accordance with those previously evidenced in microbiological biodiversity model and observational studies. Regional maxima are in remarkable agreement with several known biodiversity hotspots for plankton organisms and even for higher levels of the marine trophic chain, as well as with some in situ planktonic biodiversity estimates (from Atlantic Meridional Transect cruise). These results encourage to explore marine biodiversity with a coordinated effort of the molecular, ecological and remote sensing communities.