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Curr Biol. 2014 Mar 3;24(5):555-60. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.049. Epub 2014 Feb 20.

Human-mediated loss of phylogenetic and functional diversity in coral reef fishes.

Author information

1
CoReUs, UR 227, Laboratoire d'Excellence LABEX CORAIL, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, BP A5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia; ECOSYM, UMR CNRS-UM2 5119, Université Montpellier 2, 34095 Montpellier Cedex, France. Electronic address: stephanie.dagata@gmail.com.
2
ECOSYM, UMR CNRS-UM2 5119, Université Montpellier 2, 34095 Montpellier Cedex, France.
3
CoReUs, UR 227, Laboratoire d'Excellence LABEX CORAIL, Laboratoire Arago, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, BP 44, 66651 Banyuls/Mer, France.
4
CoReUs, UR 227, Laboratoire d'Excellence LABEX CORAIL, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, BP A5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia.
5
School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia; Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia.
6
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia.
7
School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia; Macroevolution and Macroecology Group, Research School of Biology, the Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.
8
Secretariat of the Pacific Community, BP D5, 98848 Noumea, New Caledonia.
9
CoReUs, UR 227, Laboratoire d'Excellence LABEX CORAIL, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, BP A5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia; Secretariat of the Pacific Community, BP D5, 98848 Noumea, New Caledonia.

Abstract

Beyond the loss of species richness, human activities may also deplete the breadth of evolutionary history (phylogenetic diversity) and the diversity of roles (functional diversity) carried out by species within communities, two overlooked components of biodiversity. Both are, however, essential to sustain ecosystem functioning and the associated provision of ecosystem services, particularly under fluctuating environmental conditions. We quantified the effect of human activities on the taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional diversity of fish communities in coral reefs, while teasing apart the influence of biogeography and habitat along a gradient of human pressure across the Pacific Ocean. We detected nonlinear relationships with significant breaking points in the impact of human population density on phylogenetic and functional diversity of parrotfishes, at 25 and 15 inhabitants/km(2), respectively, while parrotfish species richness decreased linearly along the same population gradient. Over the whole range, species richness decreased by 11.7%, while phylogenetic and functional diversity dropped by 35.8% and 46.6%, respectively. Our results call for caution when using species richness as a benchmark for measuring the status of ecosystems since it appears to be less responsive to variation in human population densities than its phylogenetic and functional counterparts, potentially imperiling the functioning of coral reef ecosystems.

PMID:
24560574
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.049
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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