La Trobe
1205086_Luiz,O_2022.pdf (2.77 MB)

Substantial intraspecific trait variation across a hydrological gradient in northern Australian fishes

Download (2.77 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2022-10-24, 03:39 authored by OJ Luiz, JD Olden, MJ Kennard, David CrookDavid Crook, MM Douglas, TM Saunders, D Wedd, B Adair, Alison KingAlison King
Trait-based models of ecological communities and ecosystem functioning often fail to account for intraspecific variation in functional traits, assuming that intraspecific variability is negligible compared with interspecific variability. However, this assumption remains poorly tested across vertebrate animals where past studies routinely describe species according to mean trait values without explicit consideration of individual trait variability. We assessed nine functional traits for 4254 individuals belonging to 15 freshwater fish species from 11 families in northern Australia, including body elongation, body shape, caudal peduncle throttle, eye size, eye position, gape shape, gape size, mouth position, and pectoral fin length. We quantified the extent and geography of intraspecific trait variability and its relationship with riverine hydrologic regimes using a structured sampling design. Using a combination of single- and multi-trait analyses, we demonstrate that intraspecific trait variability can contribute up to 70% of the total trait variability depending on the attribute considered and averaged 31% across all traits. The magnitude of intraspecific trait variability also varied across the hydrological permanency gradient. Fish assemblages in intermittent streams subjected to frequent environmental disturbance had high intraspecific trait variability, most likely due to strong abiotic filters limiting interspecific divergence. Conversely, assemblages in perennial rivers with less harsh environmental filters but with a larger pool of species expressed lower intraspecific trait variability: This is most likely due to stronger resource competition (biotic filter), which promotes specialization of resource use and, consequently, interspecific divergence. Our study provides the first evidence of intraspecific trait variability driven by a disturbance gradient for an animal group and points to the need for additional research into the functional importance of intraspecific variability in animal ecology. A better understanding of the patterns, drivers, and implications of intraspecific trait variability will help guide mechanistic-based predictions of the effects of environmental changes on community assemblage and ecosystem processes.

Funding

Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Northern Territory Government; Australian Research Council, Grant/Award Number: LP150100388

History

Publication Date

2022-07-01

Journal

Ecosphere

Volume

13

Issue

7

Article Number

e4169

Pagination

15p.

Publisher

Wiley

ISSN

2150-8925

Rights Statement

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. © 2022 The Authors. Ecosphere published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of The Ecological Society of America.

Usage metrics

    Journal Articles

    Categories

    No categories selected

    Licence

    Exports

    RefWorks
    BibTeX
    Ref. manager
    Endnote
    DataCite
    NLM
    DC