Fish communities diverge in species but converge in traits over three decades of warming

Type Article
Date 2019-11
Language English
Author(s) McLean Matthew1, 2, Mouillot David2, 3, Lindegren Martin4, Villéger Sébastien2, Engelhard Georg5, 6, Murgier Juliette1, Auber ArnaudORCID1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Unité Halieutique de Manche et mer du Nord IFREMER Boulogne‐sur‐Mer, France
2 : MARBEC, Université de Montpellier, CNRS, IFREMER, IRD Montpellier Cedex, France
3 : Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies James Cook University Townsville Qld ,Australia
4 : Centre for Ocean Life National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark Lyngby ,Denmark
5 : Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas) Lowestoft ,UK
6 : Collaborative Centre for Sustainable Use of the Seas (CCSUS) University of East Anglia Norwich ,UK
Source Global Change Biology (1354-1013) (Wiley), 2019-11 , Vol. 25 , N. 11 , P. 3972-3984
DOI 10.1111/gcb.14785
WOS© Times Cited 30
Keyword(s) biotic homogenization, climate change, community ecology, ecological traits, ecosystem functioning, fisheries, functional diversity, spatio-temporal dynamics

Describing the spatial and temporal dynamics of communities is essential for understanding the impacts of global environmental change on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Trait‐based approaches can provide better insight than species‐based (i.e. taxonomic) approaches into community assembly and ecosystem functioning, but comparing species and trait dynamics may reveal important patterns for understanding community responses to environmental change. Here, we used a 33‐year database of fish monitoring to compare the spatio‐temporal dynamics of taxonomic and trait structure in North Sea fish communities. We found that the majority of variation in both taxonomic and trait structure was explained by a pronounced spatial gradient, with distinct communities in the southern and northern North Sea related to depth, sea surface temperature, salinity and bed shear stress. Both taxonomic and trait structure changed significantly over time; however taxonomically, communities in the south and north diverged towards different species, becoming more dissimilar over time, yet they converged towards the same traits regardless of species differences. In particular, communities shifted towards smaller, faster growing species with higher thermal preferences and pelagic water column position. Although taxonomic structure changed over time, its spatial distribution remained relatively stable, whereas in trait structure, the southern zone of the North Sea shifted northward and expanded, leading to homogenization. Our findings suggest that global environmental change, notably climate warming, will lead to convergence towards traits more adapted for novel environments regardless of species composition.

Full Text
File Pages Size Access
13 1 MB Access on demand
6 1 MB Access on demand
Author's final draft 41 1 MB Open access
Top of the page

How to cite 

McLean Matthew, Mouillot David, Lindegren Martin, Villéger Sébastien, Engelhard Georg, Murgier Juliette, Auber Arnaud (2019). Fish communities diverge in species but converge in traits over three decades of warming. Global Change Biology, 25(11), 3972-3984. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :