What are the spatial patterns of fish life history strategies in the European Seas and what are their main drivers?
While traits are increasingly used in community ecology, they are often selected and used without a consistent framework. In this study, we made use of a theoretical framework that defines life history strategies as a combination of key traits and their trade-offs to investigate large-scale patterns and drivers of fish community composition across European Seas. We assembled an extensive number of surveys in the European seas and collected reproductive traits for more than 300 fish species present in these surveys. The species present in the European fish assemblages could be decomposed into three groups in function of their lifetime and reproductive characteristics: Equilibrium species (long-live, large and low fecund) which were present in higher numbers in the colder and deeper areas such as the northern waters around Greenland and Iceland; Periodic species (large but highly fecund) which were dominant in the offshore areas; and the Opportunistic species (short-live, small and highly fecund) which were dominant in the southern European Seas in warmer, seasonal and shallower waters. Life history strategies, due to their tight coupling to the environment, can be a suitable management tool to monitor changes in the communities in response to exploitation and climate change.
The paper can be read here
Pecuchet L, Lindegren M, Hidalgo M, Delgado M, Esteban A, Fock HO, Gil de Sola L, Punzon A, Solmundsson J, Payne MR. From traits to life history strategies: deconstructing fish community composition across European Seas. Global ecology and biogeography. DOI: 10.1111/geb.12587