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Functional Diversity of Mangrove Invertebrates

Mangrove forests found to have low functional diversity, further impacting their vulnerability

The low functional diversity of invertebrates inhabiting mangrove forests indicates that these ecosystems are among the most vulnerable on the planet, according to a new study. Mangroves have dwindled at alarming rates worldwide. Although these ecosystems support a broad range of invertebrates, little is known about the impact of mangrove deforestation on the functional diversity and resilience of resident fauna. Shing Yip Lee and colleagues compiled a dataset of 209 crustacean species and 155 mollusk species from 16 mangrove forests around the world. The authors classified the species into 64 functional entities based on unique combinations of functional traits. More than 60 percent of the locations showed no functional redundancy on average, with most functional entities consisting of only one species. Comparison with other datasets revealed that mangroves ecosystems are among those with the lowest recorded faunal functional redundancy. On average, 57 percent of functional entities are fulfilled by a single species, suggesting that even a modest local loss of invertebrate diversity could significantly harm mangrove functionality and resilience. According to the authors, studying the functional diversity of the resident faunal assemblages is crucial for assessing mangrove vulnerability to environmental change and for designing effective management, conservation, and restoration plans.

- This press release was provided by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences