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Assessing sea floor functional biodiversity and vulnerability
Beauchard, O.; Thompson, M.S.A.; Ellingsen, K.E.; Piet, G.; Laffargue, P.; Soetaert, K. (2023). Assessing sea floor functional biodiversity and vulnerability. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 708: 21-43.
In: Marine Ecology Progress Series. Inter-Research: Oldendorf/Luhe. ISSN 0171-8630; e-ISSN 1616-1599, meer
Peer reviewed article  

Beschikbaar in  Auteurs 

Author keywords
    Benthic invertebrate; Effect trait; Ecosystem engineering; Ecosystem function; Functional group; Functional diversity; Vulnerability

Auteurs  Top 
  • Beauchard, O.
  • Thompson, M.S.A.
  • Ellingsen, K.E.
  • Piet, G.
  • Laffargue, P.
  • Soetaert, K., meer

    The marine benthos has been largely studied through the use of response traits that characterise species vulnerability to disturbance. More limited has been the specific use of effect traits that represent other species descriptors and that express ecosystem functions. On the sea floor, the benthos is a key ecosystem-engineering component for which functions can be relevantly derived from effect traits. This study provides a typology of sea floor functions based on an extensive data compilation of effect traits. We classified 812 benthic invertebrate species from the northeast Atlantic by 15 effect traits expressing substratum alteration and habitat creation. Cluster analysis identified 15 species groups that represented various epi- or endobenthic functions. Beyond function-habitat specificity, we show that soft sediment species exhibited broader functional niches in the trait space that increase multi-functionality, and were endowed with rare combinations of traits that expanded the functional extent of the species assemblage. As a consequence, soft sediments can host a higher functional diversity than hard substrata because a wider range of above- and below-substratum activities are possible in soft bottoms. Based on response traits documented for the same species and used to express vulnerability to natural or human-induced disturbance, we then show that vulnerability within sea floor functions can be considerably variable. This can be a consequence of the independence between the evolutionary nature of response traits and the contingent engineering abilities of benthic species through effect traits. The paper provides theoretical and utilitarian clarifications on this trait dichotomy.

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