Rare species contribute disproportionately to the functional structure of species assemblages

Leitão, Rafael P., Zuanon, Jansen, Villeger, Sebastien, Williams, Stephen E., Baraloto, Christopher, Fortunel, Claire, Mendonça, Fernando P., and Mouillot, David (2016) Rare species contribute disproportionately to the functional structure of species assemblages. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological Sciences, 283 (1828). pp. 1-9.

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Abstract

There is broad consensus that the diversity of functional traits within species assemblages drives several ecological processes. It is also widely recognized that rare species are the first to become extinct following human-induced disturbances. Surprisingly, however, the functional importance of rare species is still poorly understood, particularly in tropical species-rich assemblages where the majority of species are rare, and the rate of species extinction can be high. Here, we investigated the consequences of local and regional extinctions on the functional structure of species assemblages. We used three extensive datasets (stream fish from the Brazilian Amazon, rainforest trees from French Guiana, and birds from the Australian Wet Tropics) and built an integrative measure of species rarity versus commonness, combining local abundance, geographical range, and habitat breadth. Using different scenarios of species loss, we found a disproportionate impact of rare species extinction for the three groups, with significant reductions in levels of functional richness, specialization, and originality of assemblages, which may severely undermine the integrity of ecological processes. The whole breadth of functional abilities within species assemblages, which is disproportionately supported by rare species, is certainly critical in maintaining ecosystems particularly under the ongoing rapid environmental transitions.

Item ID: 45562
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2954
Keywords: tropical biodiversity, conservation, extinction, rarity index, functional diversity, null models
Funders: Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nivel Superior (CAPES), Fundação de Amaparo à Pesquisa do Amazonas (FAPEAM), National Science Foundation (NSF), INRA Package, Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR)
Projects and Grants: CNPq 482209/2010-0, CNPq 156915/2011-1, CNPq 168227/2014-2, CNPq 313183/2014-7, CAPES/PDSE 1914-13-8, FAPEAM 062.00202/2013, NSF/DEB 0743103, NSF/DEB 0743800, ANR CEBA 10-LABX-25-10
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2016 07:41
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 35%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 30%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060311 Speciation and Extinction @ 35%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 100%
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