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Resilience and signatures of tropicalization in protected reef fish communities


Bates, AE and Barrett, NS and Stuart-Smith, RD and Holbrook, NJ and Thompson, PA and Edgar, GJ, Resilience and signatures of tropicalization in protected reef fish communities, Nature Climate Change, 4, (1) pp. 62-67. ISSN 1758-6798 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 Macmillan Publishers

DOI: doi:10.1038/NCLIMATE2062


Habitat reserves can promote ecological resilience to climate variability by supporting intact trophic webs and largebodied individuals1–3. Protection may also alter community responses to long-term climate change by offering habitat for range-shifting species4. Here we analyse the species richness, diversity and functional traits of temperate reef fish communities over 20 years in a global warming hotspot and compare patterns in a marine reserve with nearby sites open to fishing. Species richness and diversity oscillated strongly on the decadal scale. Long-term warming signatures were also present as increasing functional trait richness and functional diversity, driven in part by a general increase in herbivores. Nevertheless, reserve sites were distinguished from fished sites by displaying: greater stability in some aspects of biodiversity; recovery of large-bodied temperate species; resistance to colonization by subtropical vagrants; and less pronounced increases in the community-averaged temperature affinity. We empirically demonstrate that protection from fishing has buffered fluctuations in biodiversity and provided resistance to the initial stages of tropicalization.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
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:Bates, AE (Dr Amanda Bates)
UTAS Author:Barrett, NS (Associate Professor Neville Barrett)
UTAS Author:Stuart-Smith, RD (Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)
UTAS Author:Holbrook, NJ (Professor Neil Holbrook)
UTAS Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
ID Code:88482
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:75
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2014-02-04
Last Modified:2017-11-01

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