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Biodiversity enhances reef fish biomass and resistance to climate change


Duffy, JE and Lefcheck, JS and Stuart-Smith, RD and Navarrete, SA and Edgar, GJ, Biodiversity enhances reef fish biomass and resistance to climate change, National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America. Proceedings, 113, (22) pp. 6230-6235. ISSN 0027-8424 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright © 2016 National Academy of Sciences

DOI: doi:10.1073/pnas.1524465113


Fishes are the most diverse group of vertebrates, play key functional roles in aquatic ecosystems, and provide protein for a billion people, especially in the developing world. Those functions are compromised by mounting pressures on marine biodiversity and ecosystems. Because of its economic and food value, fish biomass production provides an unusually direct link from biodiversity to critical ecosystem services. We used the Reef Life Survey’s global database of 4,556 standardized fish surveys to test the importance of biodiversity to fish production relative to 25 environmental drivers. Temperature, biodiversity, and human influence together explained 47% of the global variation in reef fish biomass among sites. Fish species richness and functional diversity were among the strongest predictors of fish biomass, particularly for the large-bodied species and carnivores preferred by fishers, and these biodiversity effects were robust to potentially confounding influences of sample abundance, scale, and environmental correlations. Warmer temperatures increased biomass directly, presumably by raising metabolism, and indirectly by increasing diversity, whereas temperature variability reduced biomass. Importantly, diversity and climate interact, with biomass of diverse communities less affected by rising and variable temperatures than species-poor communities. Biodiversity thus buffers global fish biomass from climate change, and conservation of marine biodiversity can stabilize fish production in a changing ocean.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:global change, fisheries, functional diversity, macroecology, structural equation model
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Stuart-Smith, RD (Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)
UTAS Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
ID Code:109002
Year Published:2016
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP100200122)
Web of Science® Times Cited:137
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2016-05-17
Last Modified:2018-04-11

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