Global change in the functional diversity of marine fisheries exploitation over the past 65 years

Isaac Trindade Santos*, Faye Helen Moyes, Anne Magurran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Overexploitation is recognized as one of the main threats to global biodiversity. Here, we report a widespread change in the functional diversity of fisheries catches from the large marine ecosystems (LMEs) of the world over the past 65 years (1950 to 2014). The spatial and temporal trends of functional diversity exploited from the LMEs were calculated using global reconstructed marine fisheries catch data provided by the Sea Around Us initiative (including subsistence, artisanal, recreational, industrial fisheries, and discards) and functional trait data available in FishBase. Our analyses uncovered a substantial increase in the functional richness of both ray-finned fishes (80% of LMEs) and cartilaginous species (sharks and rays) (75% of LMESs), in line with an increase in the taxonomic richness, extracted from these ecosystems. The functional evenness and functional divergence of these catches have also altered substantially over the time span of this study, with considerable geographic variation in the patterns detected. These trends show that global fisheries are increasingly targeting species that play diverse roles within the marine ecosystem and underline the importance of incorporating functional diversity in ecosystem management.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20200889
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1933
Early online date19 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2020


  • Biodiversity
  • Large marine ecosystems
  • Fisheries management
  • Overexploitation
  • Actinopterygii
  • Elasmobranchii


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