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Resilience and signatures of tropicalization in protected reef fish communities

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Bates, AE and Barrett, NS and Stuart-Smith, RD and Holbrook, NJ and Thompson, PA and Edgar, GJ (2013) Resilience and signatures of tropicalization in protected reef fish communities. Nature Climate Change, 4. pp. 62-67. ISSN 1758-6798

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Abstract

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
Journal or Publication Title: Nature Climate Change
Page Range: pp. 62-67
ISSN: 1758-6798
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2062
Additional Information:

Copyright 2014 Macmillan

Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2014 22:17
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2014 22:17
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