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

McLean, M. and Auber, A. and Graham, N.A.J. and Houk, P. and Villéger, S. and Violle, C. and Thuiller, W. and Wilson, S.K. and Mouillot, D. (2019) Trait structure and redundancy determine sensitivity to disturbance in marine fish communities. Global Change Biology. ISSN 1354-1013

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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 Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Global Change Biology
Additional Information:
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: McLean, M, Auber, A, Graham, NAJ, et al. Trait structure and redundancy determine sensitivity to disturbance in marine fish communities. Glob Change Biol. 2019; 00: 1– 14. which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? climate changecoral reefsdiversity stabilityecological traitsecosystem functioningenglish channelfunctional diversityecologyglobal and planetary changeenvironmental science(all)environmental chemistry ??
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Deposited On:
22 Jul 2019 15:35
Last Modified:
22 Feb 2024 00:57