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Phylogenetic and functional evidence suggests that deep-ocean ecosystems are highly sensitive to environmental change and direct human disturbance

Phylogenetic and functional evidence suggests that deep-ocean ecosystems are highly sensitive to environmental change and direct human disturbance
Phylogenetic and functional evidence suggests that deep-ocean ecosystems are highly sensitive to environmental change and direct human disturbance

An understanding of the balance of interspecific competition and the physical environment in structuring organismal communities is crucial because those communities structured primarily by their physical environment typically exhibit greater sensitivity to environmental change than those structured predominantly by competitive interactions. Here, using detailed phylogenetic and functional information, we investigate this question in macrofaunal assemblages from Northwest Atlantic Ocean continental slopes, a high seas region projected to experience substantial environmental change through the current century. We demonstrate assemblages to be both phylogenetically and functionally under-dispersed, and thus conclude that the physical environment, not competition, may dominate in structuring deep-ocean communities. Further, we find temperature and bottom trawling intensity to be among the environmental factors significantly related to assemblage diversity. These results hint that deep-ocean communities are highly sensitive to their physical environment and vulnerable to environmental perturbation, including by direct disturbance through fishing, and indirectly through the changes brought about by climate change.

Bottom trawling, Climate change, Community phylogenetics, Deep sea, Functional traits, Supertree
0962-8452
Ashford, Oliver S.
3708c8fb-49cb-490c-b534-b00fd9c57b3b
Kenny, Andrew J.
ca578559-e62d-449d-9f95-e819d4404166
Barrio Froján, Christopher R.S.
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Bonsall, Michael B.
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Horton, Tammy
c4b41665-f0bc-4f0f-a7af-b2b9afc02e34
Brandt, Angelika
8548bf3b-0c2d-4b6d-837c-230bcc862dab
Bird, Graham J.
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Gerken, Sarah
abb43cfa-3a5c-4c35-940c-6b8765eb793b
Rogers, Alex D.
fb474198-f059-48f7-b637-74617b5023f6
Ashford, Oliver S.
3708c8fb-49cb-490c-b534-b00fd9c57b3b
Kenny, Andrew J.
ca578559-e62d-449d-9f95-e819d4404166
Barrio Froján, Christopher R.S.
b8fcb723-34e0-452e-981d-e3ae9b231d8b
Bonsall, Michael B.
d0b21c0f-ede4-40e9-91a2-4fe41a06d3c6
Horton, Tammy
c4b41665-f0bc-4f0f-a7af-b2b9afc02e34
Brandt, Angelika
8548bf3b-0c2d-4b6d-837c-230bcc862dab
Bird, Graham J.
4e55c754-c503-4d18-9666-0e2be2ef6e40
Gerken, Sarah
abb43cfa-3a5c-4c35-940c-6b8765eb793b
Rogers, Alex D.
fb474198-f059-48f7-b637-74617b5023f6

Ashford, Oliver S., Kenny, Andrew J., Barrio Froján, Christopher R.S., Bonsall, Michael B., Horton, Tammy, Brandt, Angelika, Bird, Graham J., Gerken, Sarah and Rogers, Alex D. (2018) Phylogenetic and functional evidence suggests that deep-ocean ecosystems are highly sensitive to environmental change and direct human disturbance. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 285 (1884). (doi:10.1098/rspb.2018.0923).

Record type: Article

Abstract

An understanding of the balance of interspecific competition and the physical environment in structuring organismal communities is crucial because those communities structured primarily by their physical environment typically exhibit greater sensitivity to environmental change than those structured predominantly by competitive interactions. Here, using detailed phylogenetic and functional information, we investigate this question in macrofaunal assemblages from Northwest Atlantic Ocean continental slopes, a high seas region projected to experience substantial environmental change through the current century. We demonstrate assemblages to be both phylogenetically and functionally under-dispersed, and thus conclude that the physical environment, not competition, may dominate in structuring deep-ocean communities. Further, we find temperature and bottom trawling intensity to be among the environmental factors significantly related to assemblage diversity. These results hint that deep-ocean communities are highly sensitive to their physical environment and vulnerable to environmental perturbation, including by direct disturbance through fishing, and indirectly through the changes brought about by climate change.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 9 July 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 1 August 2018
Published date: 15 August 2018
Keywords: Bottom trawling, Climate change, Community phylogenetics, Deep sea, Functional traits, Supertree

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 424192
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/424192
ISSN: 0962-8452
PURE UUID: 83c9fd76-85cd-4713-a5e1-61645e74d87e

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 05 Oct 2018 11:34
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 18:04

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Contributors

Author: Oliver S. Ashford
Author: Andrew J. Kenny
Author: Christopher R.S. Barrio Froján
Author: Michael B. Bonsall
Author: Tammy Horton
Author: Angelika Brandt
Author: Graham J. Bird
Author: Sarah Gerken
Author: Alex D. Rogers

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