Trait structure and redundancy determine sensitivity to disturbance in marine fish communities

McLean, Matthew, Auber, Arnaud, Graham, Nicholas A.J., Houk, Peter, Villéger, Sébastien, Violle, Cyrille, Thuiller, Wilfried, Wilson, Shaun K., and Mouillot, David (2019) Trait structure and redundancy determine sensitivity to disturbance in marine fish communities. Global Change Biology, 25 (10). pp. 3424-3437.

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Abstract

Trait diversity is believed to influence ecosystem dynamics through links between organismal traits and ecosystem processes. Theory predicts that key traits and high trait redundancy-large species richness and abundance supporting the same traits-can buffer communities against environmental disturbances. While experiments and data from simple ecological systems lend support, large-scale evidence from diverse, natural systems under major disturbance is lacking. Here, using long-term data from both temperate (English Channel) and tropical (Seychelles Islands) fishes, we show that sensitivity to disturbance depends on communities' initial trait structure and initial trait redundancy. In both ecosystems, we found that increasing dominance by climatically vulnerable traits (e.g., small, fast-growing pelagics/corallivores) rendered fish communities more sensitive to environmental change, while communities with higher trait redundancy were more resistant. To our knowledge, this is the first study demonstrating the influence of trait structure and redundancy on community sensitivity over large temporal and spatial scales in natural systems. Our results exemplify a consistent link between biological structure and community sensitivity that may be transferable across ecosystems and taxa and could help anticipate future disturbance impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

Item ID: 60560
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-2486
Keywords: climate change, coral reefs, diversity stability, ecological traits, ecosystem functioning, English Channel, functional diversity
Copyright Information: © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Funders: Région Hauts‐de‐France, Électricité de France, Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer, The Total Foundation
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2019 07:39
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 100%
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