Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/17215
Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Rare Species Support Vulnerable Functions in High-Diversity Ecosystems
Authors: Mouillot, David
Bellwood, David R
Baraloto, Christopher
Chave, Jerome
Galzin, Rene
Harmelin-Vivien, Mireille
Kulbicki, Michel
Lavergne, Sebastien
Lavorel, Sandra
Mouquet, Nicolas
Paine, C E Timothy
Renaud, Julien
Thuiller, Wilfried
Contact Email: c.e.t.paine@stir.ac.uk
Issue Date: May-2013
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Citation: Mouillot D, Bellwood DR, Baraloto C, Chave J, Galzin R, Harmelin-Vivien M, Kulbicki M, Lavergne S, Lavorel S, Mouquet N, Paine CET, Renaud J & Thuiller W (2013) Rare Species Support Vulnerable Functions in High-Diversity Ecosystems, PLoS Biology, 11 (5), Art. No.: e1001569.
Abstract: Around the world, the human-induced collapses of populations and species have triggered a sixth mass extinction crisis, with rare species often being the first to disappear. Although the role of species diversity in the maintenance of ecosystem processes has been widely investigated, the role of rare species remains controversial. A critical issue is whether common species insure against the loss of functions supported by rare species. This issue is even more critical in species-rich ecosystems where high functional redundancy among species is likely and where it is thus often assumed that ecosystem functioning is buffered against species loss. Here, using extensive datasets of species occurrences and functional traits from three highly diverse ecosystems (846 coral reef fishes, 2,979 alpine plants, and 662 tropical trees), we demonstrate that the most distinct combinations of traits are supported predominantly by rare species both in terms of local abundance and regional occupancy. Moreover, species that have low functional redundancy and are likely to support the most vulnerable functions, with no other species carrying similar combinations of traits, are rarer than expected by chance in all three ecosystems. For instance, 63% and 98% of fish species that are likely to support highly vulnerable functions in coral reef ecosystems are locally and regionally rare, respectively. For alpine plants, 32% and 89% of such species are locally and regionally rare, respectively. Remarkably, 47% of fish species and 55% of tropical tree species that are likely to support highly vulnerable functions have only one individual per sample on average. Our results emphasize the importance of rare species conservation, even in highly diverse ecosystems, which are thought to exhibit high functional redundancy. Rare species offer more than aesthetic, cultural, or taxonomic diversity value; they disproportionately increase the potential breadth of functions provided by ecosystems across spatial scales. As such, they are likely to insure against future uncertainty arising from climate change and the ever-increasing anthropogenic pressures on ecosystems. Our results call for a more detailed understanding of the role of rarity and functional vulnerability in ecosystem functioning.
Type: Journal Article
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/17215
DOI Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001569
Rights: © 2013 Mouillot et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Affiliation: The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
James Cook University
UMR "Ecologie des Forêts de Guyane", French Guiana
Universite Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France
The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
Aix-Marseille University
The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
Université Joseph Fourier
The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
Biological and Environmental Sciences
The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)

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