Experimental evaluation of diversity-productivity relationships in a coral reef fish assemblage

Messmer, Vanessa, Blowes, Shane A., Jones, Geoffrey P., and Munday, Philip L. (2014) Experimental evaluation of diversity-productivity relationships in a coral reef fish assemblage. Oecologia, 176 (1). pp. 237-249.

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The global decline in biodiversity is causing increasing concern about the effects of biodiversity loss on ecosystem services such as productivity. Biodiversity has been hypothesised to be important in maintaining productivity of biological assemblages because niche complementarity and facilitation among the constituent species can result in more efficient use of resources. However, these conclusions are primarily based on studies with plant communities, and the relationship between diversity and productivity at higher trophic levels is largely unknown, especially in the marine environment. Here, we used a manipulative field experiment to test the effects of species richness and species identity on biomass accumulation in coral reef fish assemblages at Lizard Island. Small patch reefs were stocked with a total of 30 juveniles belonging to three planktivorous damselfish (genus Pomacentrus) according to three different levels of fish species richness (one, two and three species) and seven different combinations of fish species. Species richness had no effect on the relative growth in this assemblage after 18 days, but relative growth differed among individual fish species and the different combinations of species. Patterns of increase in biomass were best explained by species-specific differences and variable effects of intra- and interspecific competition on growth. These results suggest that niche complementarity and facilitation are not the most influential drivers of total productivity within this guild of planktivorous fishes. Total productivity may be resilient to declining reef fish biodiversity, but this will depend on which species are lost and on the life-history traits of remaining species.

Item ID: 36115
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1939
Keywords: diversity theory, diversity loss, competition, complementarity, redundancy
Funders: Ian Potter Foundation, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2014 10:42
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 40%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 20%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 40%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 30%
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