Temperature is a powerful correlate of large-scale terrestrial and marine diversity patterns but the mechanistic links remain unclear. Whilst many explanations have been proposed, quantitative predictions that allow them to be tested statistically are often lacking. As an important exception, the metabolic theory of ecology (MTE) provides a rather robust technique using the relationship between diversity, temperature and metabolic rate in order to elucidate the ultimate underlying mechanisms driving large-scale diversity patterns. We tested if the MTE could explain geographic variations in marine copepod diversity on both ocean-wide and regional scales (East Japan Sea and North East Atlantic). The values of the regression slopes of diversity (ln taxonomic richness) over temperature (1/kT) across all spatial scales were lower than the range predicted by the metabolic scaling law for species richness (i. e. -0. 60 to -0. 70). We therefore conclude that the MTE in its present form is not suitable for predicting marine copepod diversity patterns. These results further question the applicability of the MTE for explaining diversity patterns and, despite the relative lack of comparable studies in the marine environment, the generality of the MTE across systems. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.
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