Long-term changes in temperate marine fish assemblages are driven by a small subset of species

Nicholas J. Gotelli, Faye Moyes, Laura H. Antão, Shane A. Blowes, Maria Dornelas, Brian J. McGill, Amelia Penny, Aafke Schipper, Hideyasu Shimadzu, Sarah R. Supp, Conor A. Waldock, Anne E. Magurran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The species composition of plant and animal assemblages across the globe has changed substantially over the past century. How do the dynamics of individual species cause this change? We classified species into seven unique categories of temporal dynamics based on the ordered sequence of presences and absences that each species contributes to an assemblage time series. We applied this framework to 14,434 species trajectories comprising 280 assemblages of temperate marine fishes surveyed annually for 20 or more years. Although 90% of the assemblages diverged in species composition from the baseline year, this compositional change was largely driven by only 8% of the species` trajectories. Quantifying the reorganization of assemblages based on species shared temporal dynamics should facilitate the task of monitoring and restoring biodiversity. We suggest ways in which our framework could provide informative measures of compositional change, as well as leverage future research on pattern and process in ecological systems.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalGlobal Change Biology
VolumeEarly View
Early online date3 Nov 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Nov 2021


  • Baseline
  • Biodiversity
  • Long-term monitoring
  • Marine fish assemblages
  • Species composition
  • Temporal beta diversity


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