Comparing temporal dynamics of compositional reorganization in long-term studies of birds and fish

Amelia Penny*, Maria Dornelas , Anne Magurran

*Corresponding author for this work

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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The composition of ecological assemblages has changed rapidly over the past century. Compositional reorganization rates are high relative to rates of alpha diversity change, creating an urgent need to understand how this compositional reorganization is progressing. We developed a quantitative framework for comparing temporal trajectories of compositional reorganization and applied it to two long-term bird and marine fish datasets. We then evaluated how the number and magnitude of short-term changes relate to overall rates of change. We found varied trajectories of turnover across birds and fish, with linear directional change predominating in birds and non-directional change more common in fish. The number of changes away from the baseline was a more consistent correlate of the overall rate of change than the magnitude of such changes, but large unreversed changes were found in both fish and birds, as were time series with accelerating compositional change. Compositional reorganization is progressing through a complex mix of temporal trajectories, including both threshold-like behaviour and the accumulation of repeated, linear change.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14214
Pages (from-to)1071-1083
Number of pages13
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number7
Early online date14 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2023


  • Anthropocene
  • Biodiversity change
  • Compositional reorganization
  • Jaccard dissimilarity
  • Temporal beta diversity
  • Trajectory analysis


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