Global changes threaten functional and taxonomic diversity of insular species worldwide

Type Article
Date 2020-04
Language English
Author(s) Leclerc Camille1, Villéger Sébastien2, Marino Clara1, 3, Bellard Céline1, 4, Di Minin Enrico
Affiliation(s) 1 : Ecologie Systématique Evolution CNRS AgroParisTech Université Paris‐Saclay Orsay, France
2 : MARBEC Université de Montpellier CNRS IFREMER IRD Montpellier Cedex ,France
3 : Département de biologie Ecole Normale Supérieure Université PSL Paris ,France
4 : Unité Biologie des Organismes et Ecosystèmes Aquatiques (BOREA ,UMR 7208) Muséum national d'Histoire naturelleSorbonne Université Université de Caen NormandieUniversité des AntillesCNRSIRD Paris, France
Source Diversity And Distributions (1366-9516) (Wiley), 2020-04 , Vol. 26 , N. 4 , P. 402-414
DOI 10.1111/ddi.13024
WOS© Times Cited 23
Keyword(s) birds, functional originality, functional richness, functional specialization, islands, mammals, species traits, vulnerability


The assessment of biodiversity patterns under global changes is currently biased towards taxonomic diversity, thus overlooking the ecological and functional aspects of species. Here, we characterized both taxonomic and functional diversity of insular biodiversity threatened by multiple threats.


Worldwide islands (n = 4,348).


We analysed the relative importance of eleven major threats, including biological invasions or climate change, on 2,756 insular endemic mammals and birds. Species were functionally described using five ecological traits related to diet, habitat and body mass. We computed complementary taxonomic and functional diversity indices (richness, specialization, originality and vulnerability) of species pools affected by each threatening process to investigate relationships between diversity dimensions and threats. We also determined whether species‐specific traits are associated with specific threats.


On average, 8% of insular endemic species at risk of extinction are impacted by threats, while 20% of their functional richness is affected. However, a marked disparity in functional richness values associated with each threat can be highlighted. In particular, cultivation and wildlife exploitation are the greatest threats to insular endemic species. Moreover, each threat may contribute to the loss of at least 10% of functional diversity, because it affects threatened species that support unique and extreme functions. Finally, we found complex patterns of species‐specific traits associated with particular threats that is not explain by the threatening processes (directly affecting survival or modifying habitat). For instance, cultivation threatens very large mammals, while urbanization threatens very small mammals.

Main conclusions

These findings reinforce the importance of exploring the vulnerability of biodiversity facets in the face of multiple threats. Anthropogenic pressures may result in a loss of unique functions within insular ecosystems, which provides important insights into the understanding of threatening processes at a global scale.

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