Functional diversity of the marine benthic macroinvertebrates of the Iberian peninsula, balearic and canary islands.

Supervisor: Mikel Becerro (CSIC, Blanes)
The current biodiversity crisis is affecting not only the species diversity but the ecosystemfunctioning as well. Traditionally, the diversity is measured with different metrics related tothe number of species, this approach does not necessarily provide information on the systemfunctions. The development of methods incorporating biological traits to assess the functionalcomponent of the communities has shown to be more useful in wider geographical scaleswithout the effect of biogeography and to reveal distinct patterns to those observed withtraditional diversity. This study characterized the macrobenthic invertebrate community of theSpanish coastal rocky reefs using: the species composition, biological traits, and taxonomicaland functional diversity indices. These ecological metrics, together with the abundance, were compared regarding environmental, geographical and human factors. The field data wasobtained using underwater visual censuses following the Reef Life Survey method to quantify macroinvertebrates in 328 locations. The traditional approach showed a clear differentiation of the communities along an environmental gradient, where as the trait analysis displayed a morestable distribution. However, the variables explaining the variation of both structures were thesame (SST, dissolved oxygen and PAR). All the indices (Species Richness, Abundance,Shannon-Wiener, Simpson, Functional Richness, Functional Evenness, Functional Dispersionand Functional Redundancy) presented significant differences among the ecoregions but only Shannon-Wiener and Simpson were different when comparing levels of protection. The Functional Richness and Dispersion were associated significantly with the Species Richness and the Shannon-Wiener index, although the only relationship truly linear was betweenFunctional Dispersion and Shannon-Wiener. This work contributes to the understanding ofecosystem functioning as the first functional characterization of the macrobenthic community in the area.