Volatility in coral cover erodes niche structure, but not diversity, in reef fish assemblages

Tsai, Cheng-Han, Sweatman, Hugh P.A., Thibaut, Loïc M., and Connolly, Sean R. (2022) Volatility in coral cover erodes niche structure, but not diversity, in reef fish assemblages. Science Advances, 8 (24). eabm6858.

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Abstract

The world’s coral reefs are experiencing increasing volatility in coral cover, largely because of anthropogenic environmental change, highlighting the need to understand how such volatility will influence the structure and dynamics of reef assemblages. These changes may influence not only richness or evenness but also the temporal stability of species’ relative abundances (temporal beta-diversity). Here, we analyzed reef fish assemblage time series from the Great Barrier Reef to show that, overall, 75% of the variance in abundance among species was attributable to persistent differences in species’ long-term mean abundances. However, the relative importance of stochastic fluctuations in abundance was higher on reefs that experienced greater volatility in coral cover, whereas it did not vary with drivers of alpha-diversity. These findings imply that increased coral cover volatility decreases temporal stability in relative abundances of fishes, a transformation that is not detectable from static measures of biodiversity.

Item ID: 76512
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2375-2548
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2022 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC).
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2023 05:39
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 100%
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