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  • McLean et al. Marine Biology Manuscript file REVISED

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Interspecific differences in environmental response blur trait dynamics in classic statistical analyses

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Article number152
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/12/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Marine Biology
Issue number12
Volume166
Number of pages10
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date8/11/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Trait-based ecology strives to better understand how species, through their bio-ecological traits, respond to environmental changes, and influence ecosystem functioning. Identifying which traits are most responsive to environmental changes can provide insight for understanding community structuring and developing sustainable management practices. However, misinterpretations are possible, because standard statistical methods (e.g., principal component analysis and linear regression) for identifying and ranking the responses of different traits to environmental changes ignore interspecific differences. Here, using both artificial data and real-world examples from marine fish communities, we show how considering species-specific responses can lead to drastically different results than standard community-level methods. By demonstrating the potential impacts of interspecific differences on trait dynamics, we illuminate a major, yet rarely discussed issue, highlighting how analytical misinterpretations can confound our basic understanding of trait responses, which could have important consequences for biodiversity conservation.

Bibliographic note

The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00227-019-3602-5