Marine fish are an irreplaceable resource but are currently under threat due to overfishing and climate change. To date, most of the emphasis has been on single stocks or populations of economic importance. However, commercially valuable species are embedded in assemblages of many species and there is only limited understanding of the extent to which the structure of whole communities has altered in recent years. Most assemblages are dominated by one or a few species, with these highly abundant species underpinning ecosystem services and harvesting decisions.

This paper shows that there have been marked temporal changes in the dominance structure of Scottish marine assemblages over the last three decades, where dominance is measured as the proportional numerical abundance of the most dominant species. We report contrasting patterns in both the identity of the dominant species, and shifts in the relative abundance of the dominant in assemblages to the east and west of Scotland. This result highlights the importance of multi-species analyses of harvested stocks and has implications not only for fisheries management but also for consumer choices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-102
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Issue number1
Early online date20 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • Biodiversity
  • climate change
  • Dominance
  • Fish diversity
  • Scottish fisheries


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