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  • Schiettekatte_global_functions_Accepted MS

    Rights statement: The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-022-01710-5

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Biological trade-offs underpin coral reef ecosystem functioning

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Nina M. D. Schiettekatte
  • Simon J. Brandl
  • Jordan M. Casey
  • Diego R. Barneche
  • Deron E. Burkepile
  • Jacob E. Allgeier
  • Jesús E. Arias-Gonzaléz
  • Graham J. Edgar
  • Carlos E. L. Ferreira
  • Sergio R. Floeter
  • Alan M. Friedlander
  • Alison L. Green
  • Michel Kulbicki
  • Yves Letourneur
  • Osmar J. Luiz
  • Alexandre Mercière
  • Fabien Morat
  • Katrina S. Munsterman
  • Enrico L. Rezende
  • Fabian A. Rodríguez‐Zaragoza
  • Rick D. Stuart-Smith
  • Laurent Vigliola
  • Sébastien Villéger
  • Valeriano Parravicini
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/06/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Nature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number6
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)701-708
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date4/04/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Human impact increasingly alters global ecosystems, often reducing biodiversity and disrupting the provision of essential ecosystem services to humanity. Therefore, preserving ecosystem functioning is a critical challenge of the twenty-first century. Coral reefs are declining worldwide due to the pervasive effects of climate change and intensive fishing, and although research on coral reef ecosystem functioning has gained momentum, most studies rely on simplified proxies, such as fish biomass. This lack of quantitative assessments of multiple process-based ecosystem functions hinders local and regional conservation efforts. Here we combine global coral reef fish community surveys and bioenergetic models to quantify five key ecosystem functions mediated by coral reef fishes. We show that functions exhibit critical trade-offs driven by varying community structures, such that no community can maximize all functions. Furthermore, functions are locally dominated by few species, but the identity of dominant species substantially varies at the global scale. In fact, half of the 1,110 species in our dataset are functionally dominant in at least one location. Our results reinforce the need for a nuanced, locally tailored approach to coral reef conservation that considers multiple ecological functions beyond the effect of standing stock biomass.

Bibliographic note

The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-022-01710-5