Does functional redundancy stabilize fish communities?

Jake Rice, Niels Daan, Henrik Gislason, John Pope

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Functional redundancy of species sharing a feeding strategy and/or maximum size has been hypothesized to contribute to increased resilience of marine fish communities (the “portfolio effect”). A consistent time-series of survey data of fish in the North Sea was used to examine if trophic functional groups or maximum length of species (Lmax) groups with larger numbers of species had lower coefficients of variation in abundance and biomass over time than did groupings with fewer species. Results supported this hypothesis. However, the stabilizing effect of numbers of species in a group on variation in abundance or biomass could be accounted for by the Law of Large Numbers, providing no evidence that specific ecological processes or co-adaptations are necessary to produce this effect. This implies that successful conservation policies to maintain the resilience of a marine fish community could be based on strategies to maintain the number of species in functional groups, without having to know the detailed ecological interactions between the species.
Original languageEnglish
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)734-742
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Fish community
  • Functional group
  • North Sea
  • Portfolio effect
  • Resilience


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