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Species richness and identity both determine the biomass of global reef fish communities


Lefcheck, JS and Edgar, GJ and Stuart-Smith, RD and Bates, AE and Waldock, C and Brandl, SJ and Kininmonth, S and Ling, SD and Duffy, JE and Rasher, DB and Agrawal, AF, Species richness and identity both determine the biomass of global reef fish communities, Nature Communications, 12, (1) Article 6875. ISSN 2041-1723 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

2021. The Authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, (, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41467-021-27681-y


Changing biodiversity alters ecosystem functioning in nature, but the degree to which this relationship depends on the taxonomic identities rather than the number of species remains untested at broad scales. Here, we partition the effects of declining species richness and changing community composition on fish community biomass across >3000 coral and rocky reef sites globally. We find that high biodiversity is 5.7x more important in maximizing biomass than the remaining influence of other ecological and environmental factors. Differences in fish community biomass across space are equally driven by both reductions in the total number of species and the disproportionate loss of larger-than-average species, which is exacerbated at sites impacted by humans. Our results confirm that sustaining biomass and associated ecosystem functions requires protecting diversity, most importantly of multiple large-bodied species in areas subject to strong human influences.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:species richness, reef fish communities, biodiversity, ecosystem function, human impacts
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
UTAS Author:Stuart-Smith, RD (Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)
UTAS Author:Ling, SD (Dr Scott Ling)
ID Code:150891
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2022-07-04
Last Modified:2022-08-09
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