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Functional diversity of marine megafauna in the Anthropocene

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  • C. Pimiento, Swansea University, Smithsonian Institution
  • ,
  • F. Leprieur, Universite de Montpellier, Institut Universitaire de France
  • ,
  • D. Silvestro, University of Gothenburg, University of Lausanne, University of Fribourg
  • ,
  • J. S. Lefcheck, Smithsonian Institution
  • ,
  • C. Albouy, L'Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer
  • ,
  • D. B. Rasher, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
  • ,
  • M. Davis, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
  • ,
  • J. C. Svenning
  • J. N. Griffin, Department of Biosciences, Swansea University

Marine megafauna, the largest animals in the oceans, serve key roles in ecosystem functioning. Yet, one-third of these animals are at risk of extinction. To better understand the potential consequences of megafaunal loss, here we quantify their current functional diversity, predict future changes under different extinction scenarios, and introduce a new metric [functionally unique, specialized and endangered (FUSE)] that identifies threatened species of particular importance for functional diversity. Simulated extinction scenarios forecast marked declines in functional richness if current trajectories are maintained during the next century (11% globally; up to 24% regionally), with more marked reductions (48% globally; up to 70% at the poles) beyond random expectations if all threatened species eventually go extinct. Among the megafaunal groups, sharks will incur a disproportionate loss of functional richness. We identify top FUSE species and suggest a renewed focus on these species to preserve the ecosystem functions provided by marine megafauna.

TidsskriftScience Advances
Antal sider13
StatusUdgivet - 2020

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