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Resilience and signatures of tropicalization in protected reef fish communities


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Bates, AE, Barrett, NS, Stuart-Smith, RD, Holbrook, NJ, Thompson, PA and Edgar, GJ 2013 , 'Resilience and signatures of tropicalization in protected reef fish communities' , Nature Climate Change, vol. 4 , pp. 62-67 , doi: 10.1038/nclimate2062.

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Habitat reserves can promote ecological resilience to climate variability by supporting intact trophic webs and large-bodied individuals1, 2, 3. Protection may also alter community responses to long-term climate change by offering habitat for range-shifting species4. Here we analyse the species richness, diversity and functional traits of temperate reef fish communities over 20 years in a global warming hotspot and compare patterns in a marine reserve with nearby sites open to fishing. Species richness and diversity oscillated strongly on the decadal scale. Long-term warming signatures were also present as increasing functional trait richness and functional diversity, driven in part by a general increase in herbivores. Nevertheless, reserve sites were distinguished from fished sites by displaying: greater stability in some aspects of biodiversity; recovery of large-bodied temperate species; resistance to colonization by subtropical vagrants; and less pronounced increases in the community-averaged temperature affinity. We empirically demonstrate that protection from fishing has buffered fluctuations in biodiversity and provided resistance to the initial stages of tropicalization.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Bates, AE and Barrett, NS and Stuart-Smith, RD and Holbrook, NJ and Thompson, PA and Edgar, GJ
Journal or Publication Title: Nature Climate Change
ISSN: 1758-6798
DOI / ID Number: 10.1038/nclimate2062
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Copyright 2014 Macmillan

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