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Building functional groups of marine benthic macroinvertebrates on the basis of general community assembly mechanisms

Abstract : The accurate reproduction of the spatial and temporal dynamics of marine benthic biodiversity requires the development of mechanistic models, based on the processes that shape macroinvertebrate communities. The modelled entities should, accordingly, be able to adequately represent the many functional roles that are performed by benthic organisms. With this goal in mind, we applied the emergent group hypothesis (EGH), which assumes functional equivalence within and functional divergence between groups of species. The first step of the grouping involved the selection of 14 biological traits that describe the role of benthic macroinvertebrates in 7 important community assembly mechanisms. A matrix of trait values for the 240 species that occurred in the Rance estuary (Brittany, France) in 1995 formed the basis for a hierarchical classification that generated 20 functional groups, each with its own trait values. The functional groups were first evaluated based on their ability to represent observed patterns of biodiversity. The two main assumptions of the EGH were then tested, by assessing the preservation of niche attributes among the groups and the neutrality of functional differences within them. The generally positive results give us confidence in the ability of the grouping to recreate functional diversity in the Rance estuary. A first look at the emergent groups provides insights into the potential role of community assembly mechanisms in shaping biodiversity patterns. Our next steps include the derivation of general rules of interaction and their incorporation, along with the functional groups, into mechanistic models of benthic biodiversity.
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Nikolaos Alexandridis, Cédric Bacher, Nicolas Desroy, Fred Jean. Building functional groups of marine benthic macroinvertebrates on the basis of general community assembly mechanisms. Journal of Sea Research, Elsevier, 2017, 121, pp.59-70. ⟨10.1016/j.seares.2017.01.007⟩. ⟨hal-01510353⟩

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