Intertidal communities’ composition and diversity usually exhibit strong changes in relation to environmental gradients at different biogeographical scales. This study represents the first comprehensive diversity and composition description of polyplacophoran assemblages along the Peruvian Province (SE Pacific, 12°S–39°S), as a model system for ecological latitudinal gradients. A total of 4,775 chitons from 21 species were collected on twelve localities along the Peruvian Province. This sampling allowed us to quantitatively estimate the relative abundance of the species in this assemblage, and to test whether chitons conform to elementary predictions of major biogeographic patterns such as a latitudinal diversity gradient. We found that the species composition supported the division of the province into three ecoregional faunal groups (i.e. Humboldtian, Central Chile, and Araucanian). Though chiton diversity did not follow a clear latitudinal gradient, changes in species composition were dominated by smaller scale variability in salinity and temperature. Body size significantly differed by ecoregions and species, indicating latitudinal size-structure assamblages. In some localities body size ratios differed from a random assemblage, evidencing competition at local scale. Changes in composition between ecoregions influence body size structure, and their overlapping produce vertical size segregation, suggesting that competition coupled with environmental conditions structure these assemblages.
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