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Species richness and identity both determine the biomass of global reef fish communities

Lefcheck, JS, Edgar, GJ ORCID: 0000-0003-0833-9001, Stuart-Smith, RD ORCID: 0000-0002-8874-0083, Bates, AE, Waldock, C, Brandl, SJ, Kininmonth, S, Ling, SD ORCID: 0000-0002-5544-8174, Duffy, JE, Rasher, DB and Agrawal, AF 2021 , 'Species richness and identity both determine the biomass of global reef fish communities' , Nature Communications, vol. 12, no. 1 , pp. 1-9 , doi:

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Changing biodiversity alters ecosystem functioning in nature, but the degree to which this relationship depends on the taxonomic identities rather than the number of species remains untested at broad scales. Here, we partition the effects of declining species richness and changing community composition on fish community biomass across >3000 coral and rocky reef sites globally. We find that high biodiversity is 5.7x more important in maximizing biomass than the remaining influence of other ecological and environmental factors. Differences in fish community biomass across space are equally driven by both reductions in the total number of species and the disproportionate loss of larger-than-average species, which is exacerbated at sites impacted by humans. Our results confirm that sustaining biomass and associated ecosystem functions requires protecting diversity, most importantly of multiple large-bodied species in areas subject to strong human influences.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Lefcheck, JS and Edgar, GJ and Stuart-Smith, RD and Bates, AE and Waldock, C and Brandl, SJ and Kininmonth, S and Ling, SD and Duffy, JE and Rasher, DB and Agrawal, AF
Keywords: species richness, reef fish communities, biodiversity, ecosystem function, human impacts
Journal or Publication Title: Nature Communications
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2041-1723
DOI / ID Number:
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© 2021. The Authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, (, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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