Ecological and life history traits explain a climate induced shift in a temperate marine fish community

Type Article
Date 2018-11
Language English
Author(s) McLean Matthew1, 2, Mouillot David2, Auber ArnaudORCID1
Affiliation(s) 1 : IFREMER, Unite Halieut Manche & Mer Nord, 150 Quai Gambetta,BP699, F-62321 Boulogne Sur Mer, France.
2 : Univ Montpellier, MARBEC, CNRS, IFREMER,IRD, F-34095 Montpellier, France.
Source Marine Ecology Progress Series (0171-8630) (Inter-research), 2018-11 , Vol. 606 , P. 175-186
DOI 10.3354/meps12766
WOS© Times Cited 16
Keyword(s) Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, Climate warming, English Channel, Functional ecology, Principal response curves, Response traits

A better understanding of community dynamics and ecosystem functioning can be achieved by describing how community functional structure responds to environmental change over both time and space and by identifying which functional groups best mediate community responses. Here, we used a trait-based approach in combination with a newly developed application of principal response curves to functionally characterize a rapid taxonomic shift in the eastern English Channel fish community in the late 1990s. We identified the functional groups with the greatest contributions to the overall shift in fish functional structure and uncovered significant trait−environment relationships. We found that pelagic species with rapid life history cycles, characterized by broadcast spawning, small offspring size, and early maturation, declined considerably in abundance following an increase in sea surface temperature associated with a warming phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, which was likely exacerbated by historical fishing pressure. In contrast, species with late maturation, high parental care, and few, well-developed offspring increased in abundance, reinforcing that fish community responses to climate warming are strongly mediated through life history traits. By examining how environmental factors drove a community shift at the trait level, we provide a mechanistic understanding of how fish functional structure responds to rapid environmental change.

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