Assessing sea floor functional biodiversity and vulnerability

Type Article
Date 2023-03
Language English
Author(s) Beauchard Olivier1, 2, Thompson Murray S. A.3, Ellingsen Kari E.4, Piet Gerjan5, Laffargue PascalORCID6, Soetaert Karline1, 2
Affiliation(s) 1 : Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and Utrecht University, Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems, Yerseke 4401 NT, The Netherlands
2 : Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and Utrecht University, Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems, Yerseke 4401 NT, The Netherlands
3 : Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), Lowestoft Laboratory, Lowestoft NR33 0HT, UK
4 : Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), 9296 Tromsø, Norway
5 : Wageningen Marine Research, Wageningen University & Research, IJmuiden 1970 AB, The Netherlands
6 : IFREMER, Laboratoire Ecologie et Modèles pour l’Halieutique, 44311 Nantes, France
Source Marine Ecology Progress Series (0171-8630) (Inter-research), 2023-03 , Vol. 708 , P. 21-43
DOI 10.3354/meps14270
WOS© Times Cited 1
Keyword(s) Benthic invertebrate, Effect trait, Ecosystem engineering, Ecosystem function, Functional group, Functional diversity, Vulnerability

The marine benthos has been largely studied through the use of response traits that characterise species vulnerability to disturbance. More limited has been the specific use of effect traits that represent other species descriptors and that express ecosystem functions. On the sea floor, the benthos is a key ecosystem-engineering component for which functions can be relevantly derived from effect traits. This study provides a typology of sea floor functions based on an extensive data compilation of effect traits. We classified 812 benthic invertebrate species from the northeast Atlantic by 15 effect traits expressing substratum alteration and habitat creation. Cluster analysis identified 15 species groups that represented various epi- or endobenthic functions. Beyond function-habitat specificity, we show that soft sediment species exhibited broader functional niches in the trait space that increase multi-functionality, and were endowed with rare combinations of traits that expanded the functional extent of the species assemblage. As a consequence, soft sediments can host a higher functional diversity than hard substrata because a wider range of above- and below-substratum activities are possible in soft bottoms. Based on response traits documented for the same species and used to express vulnerability to natural or human-induced disturbance, we then show that vulnerability within sea floor functions can be considerably variable. This can be a consequence of the independence between the evolutionary nature of response traits and the contingent engineering abilities of benthic species through effect traits. The paper provides theoretical and utilitarian clarifications on this trait dichotomy.

Full Text
File Pages Size Access
Publisher's official version 23 9 MB Open access
Tables S1.1 and S1.2 749 KB Open access
Additional methods, including Table S2.1 and Figs. S2.1 & S2.2 5 319 KB Open access
Figs. S3.1–S3.10 9 3 MB Open access
Descriptions of the taxonomic and functional compositions of the 15 typological groups 2 143 KB Open access
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