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Biological interactions both facilitate and resist climate-related functional change in temperate reef communities


Bates, AE and Stuart-Smith, RD and Barrett, NS and Edgar, GJ, Biological interactions both facilitate and resist climate-related functional change in temperate reef communities, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences, 284, (1856) Article 20170484. ISSN 0962-8452 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society.

DOI: doi:10.1098/rspb.2017.0484


Shifts in the abundance and location of species are restructuring life on the Earth, presenting the need to build resilience into our natural systems. Here, we tested if protection from fishing promotes community resilience in temperate reef communities undergoing rapid warming in Tasmania. Regardless of protection status, we detected a signature of warming in the brown macroalgae, invertebrates and fishes, through increases in the local richness and abundance of warm-affinity species. Even so, responses in protected communities diverged from exploited communities. At the local scale, the number of cool-affinity fishes and canopy-forming algal species increased following protection, even though the observation window fell within a period of warming. At the same time, exploited communities gained turf algal and sessile invertebrate species. We further found that the recovery of predator populations following protection leads to marked declines in mobile invertebrates—this trend could be incorrectly attributed to warming without contextual data quantifying community change across trophic levels. By comparing long-term change in exploited and protected reefs, we empirically demonstrate the role of biological interactions in both facilitating and resisting climate-related biodiversity change. We further highlight the potential for trophic interactions to alter the progression of both range expansions and contractions.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:reef life survey, fishes, invertebrates, reef, climate change, community temperature index, functional traits, marine protected area, tropicalization
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:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Stuart-Smith, RD (Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)
UTAS Author:Barrett, NS (Associate Professor Neville Barrett)
UTAS Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
ID Code:117379
Year Published:2017
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP100200122)
Web of Science® Times Cited:28
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2017-06-09
Last Modified:2018-05-28

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