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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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A portion of the sandflat (Kaipara Harbour, New Zealand) sampled to assess the spatial distribution of functional attributes in the macrobenthic community. The quadrat is 1 m2. Photograph: Roman Zajac

Greenfield BL, Kraan C, Pilditch CA, Thrush SF


Mapping functional groups can provide insight into ecosystem functioning and potential resilience of intertidal sandflats

Species which share traits can perform similar functions within an ecosystem and this redundancy potentially confers resilience in ecosystem functioning. Greenfield and colleagues demonstrate through consideration of the spatial distribution of functional groups that resilience is likely to be scale-dependent, rather than a commodity on offer across an entire ecosystem. This analysis was based on specific functional traits linked to ecosystem functioning in a macrobenthic community sampled from a large intertidal area. Functional group distributions were non-random and showed spatial patterns that separate the functional attributes of the macrobenthic community. These findings emphasise the importance of not only within functional group species richness, but also abundance and occurrence as a framework to investigate functional diversity and resilience of benthic seafloor communities.


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