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Pennington, United Kingdom

Magurran A.E.,University of St. Andrews | Henderson P.A.,Pisces Conservation Ltd
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2010

Temporal variation in species abundances occurs in all ecological communities. Here, we explore the role that this temporal turnover plays in maintaining assemblage diversity. We investigate a three-decade time series of estuarine fishes and show that the abundances of the individual species fluctuate asynchronously around their mean levels.We then use a time-series modelling approach to examine the consequences of different patterns of turnover, by asking how the correlation between the abundance of a species in a given year and its abundance in the previous year influences the structure of the overall assemblage. Classical diversity measures that ignore species identities reveal that the observed assemblage structure will persist under all but the most extreme conditions. However, metrics that track species identities indicate a narrower set of turnover scenarios under which the predicted assemblage resembles the natural one. Our study suggests that species diversity metrics are insensitive to change and that measures that track species ranks may provide better early warning that an assemblage is being perturbed. It also highlights the need to incorporate temporal turnover in investigations of assemblage structure and function. This journal is © 2010 The Royal Society.

Scott A.L.,Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust | Henderson P.A.,Pisces Conservation Ltd
Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom | Year: 2015

A study of an inshore southern North Sea population of lesser weever, Echiichthys vipera, on the Suffolk coast, England, found this small, abundant, benthic fish to reach an age of 15 years and suffer an adult mortality rate of only 0.23 y−1. The maximum length observed of 195 mm Standard length (SL) (225 mm total length, TL) was the greatest yet reported and many individuals >140 mm SL (163 mm TL) were caught between 2009 and 2012. Previous studies have reported a maximum of 160 mm TL and a von Bertalanffy asymptotic TL of 150.3 mm. Age structure analysis showed that recruitment into the local inshore Sizewell population continued until 5 or more years of age. A 6 year age of recruitment corresponds to the age when they have been reported to have disappeared from offshore locations and previously assumed to have died from old age. Regular seasonal changes in local abundance were observed with peak captures during May, presumably caused by seasonal immigration, followed by a summer minimum and a second, more variable, maximum in early autumn before the winter minimum. The winter minimum in captures may be due to either inactivity or offshore migration. Lesser weever has evolved a long-lived, slow growing, life history strategy unusual for small benthic fish in the southern North Sea. By spending long periods hidden in sand, using venom for defence and remaining inactive for an extended period each winter, lesser weever has adopted a strategy which favours high survival and increased longevity. Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2015

Magurran A.E.,University of St. Andrews | Henderson P.A.,Pisces Conservation Ltd
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2012

How do species divide resources to produce the characteristic species abundance distributions seen in nature? One way to resolve this problem is to examine how the biomass (or capacity) of the spatial guilds that combine to produce an abundance distribution is allocated among species. Here we argue that selection on body size varies across guilds occupying spatially distinct habitats. Using an exceptionally well-characterized estuarine fish community, we show that biomass is concentrated in large bodied species in guilds where habitat structure provides protection from predators, but not in those guilds associated with open habitats and where safety in numbers is a mechanism for reducing predation risk. We further demonstrate that while there is temporal turnover in the abundances and identities of species that comprise these guilds, guild rank order is conserved across our 30-year time series. These results demonstrate that ecological communities are not randomly assembled but can be decomposed into guilds where capacity is predictably allocated among species. © 2012 The Royal Society.

Henderson P.A.,Pisces Conservation Ltd | Magurran A.E.,Center for Biological Diversity
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2014

To understand how ecosystems are structured and stabilized, and to identify when communities are at risk of damage or collapse, we need to know how the abundances of the taxa in the entire assemblage vary over ecologically meaningful timescales. Here, we present an analysis of species temporal variability within a single large vertebrate community. Using an exceptionally complete 33-year monthly time series following the dynamics of 81 species of fishes, we show that the most abundant species are least variable in terms of temporal biomass, because they are under density-dependent (negative feedback) regulation. At the other extreme, a relatively large number of low abundance transient species exhibit the greatest population variability. The high stability of the consistently common high abundance species-a result of density-dependence-is reflected in the observation that they consistently represent over 98% of total fish biomass. This leads to steady ecosystem nutrient and energy flux irrespective of the changes in species number and abundance among the large number of low abundance transient species. While the densitydependence of the core species ensures stability under the existing environmental regime, the pool of transient species may support long-term stability by replacing core species should environmental conditions change. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

Jolly M.T.,Marine Biological Association of The United Kingdom | Aprahamian M.W.,UK Environment Agency | Hawkins S.J.,University of Southampton | Henderson P.A.,Pisces Conservation Ltd | And 5 more authors.
Marine Biology | Year: 2012

Determining the magnitude of homing behaviour within migratory fish species is essential for their conservation and management. We tested for population genetic structuring in the anadromous alosines, Alosa alosa and A. fallax fallax, to establish fidelity of stocks to spawning grounds in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Considerable genetic differences were present among populations of both species, suggesting strong fidelity to breeding grounds and compatible with homing to natal origins. Moreover, the genetic structure of A. fallax fallax showed a clear pattern of isolation-by-distance, consistent with breeding populations exchanging migrants primarily with neighbouring populations. Spatial genetic differences were on average much greater than temporal differences, indicating relatively stable genetic structure. Comparing anadromous A. fallax fallax populations to the landlocked Killarney shad subspecies, A. fallax killarnensis (Ireland), demonstrated a long history of separation. These results demonstrating regional stock structure within the British Isles will inform practical management of stocks and their spawning habitats. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.

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