Maria Dornelas's research while affiliated with University of St Andrews and other places

Publications (131)

Article
Life‐history traits are promising tools to predict species commonness and rarity because they influence a population's fitness in a given environment. Yet, species with similar traits can have vastly different abundances, challenging the prospect of robust trait‐based predictions. Using long‐term demographic monitoring, we show that coral populatio...
Preprint
Earth’s biodiversity continues to change rapidly through the Anthropocene ¹ , including widespread reordering of species in space 2,3 and time 4,5 . A common expectation of this reordering is that the species composition of sites is becoming increasingly similar across space, known as biotic homogenization, due to anthropogenic pressures and invasi...
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Land‐use change is widely regarded as a simplifying and homogenising force in nature. In contrast, analysing global land‐use reconstructions from the 10th to 20th centuries, we found progressive increases in the number, evenness, and diversity of ecosystems (including human‐modified land‐use types) present across most of the Earth’s land surface. E...
Article
Biodiversity metrics often integrate data on the presence and abundance of multiple species. Yet our understanding of covariation between changes to the numbers of individuals, the evenness of species relative abundances, and the total number of species remains limited. Using individual‐based rarefaction curves, we introduce a conceptual framework...
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The structure of an ecosystem is usually determined by the shape of the organisms that build it, commonly known as ecosystem engineers. Understanding to what extent plasticity and environmental filtering determine variation in the physical structure of ecosystem engineers is necessary to predict how ecosystem structure may change. Here, we explored...
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Observations are key to understand the drivers of biodiversity loss, and the impacts on ecosystem services and ultimately on people. Many EU policies and initiatives demand unbiased, integrated and regularly updated biodiversity and ecosystem service data. However, efforts to monitor biodiversity are spatially and temporally fragmented, taxonomical...
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National and local governments need to step up efforts to effectively implement the post‐2020 global biodiversity framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity to halt and reverse worsening biodiversity trends. Drawing on recent advances in interdisciplinary biodiversity science, we propose a framework for improved implementation by national...
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The process of coral recruitment is crucial to the healthy functioning of coral reef ecosystems, as well as recovery following disturbances. Fishes are key modulators of this process by feeding on algae and other benthic taxa that compete with corals for benthic space. However, foraging strategies within reef fish assemblages are highly diverse and...
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Niche construction is the process through which organisms modify environmental states in ways favourable to their own fitness. Here, we test experimentally whether scleractinian corals can be considered niche constructors. In particular, we demonstrate a positive feedback involved in corals building structures which facilitate recruitment. Coral la...
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The species composition of plant and animal assemblages across the globe has changed substantially over the past century. How do the dynamics of individual species cause this change? We classified species into seven unique categories of temporal dynamics based on the ordered sequence of presences and absences that each species contributes to an ass...
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Herbivory is a core ecosystem function that is delivered heterogeneously across space. Disentangling the drivers of foraging patterns is key to understanding the functional impact of herbivores. Because intrinsic drivers of foraging like metabolism, nutritional requirements and movement costs scale allometrically, foraging movement patterns in terr...
Preprint
Full-text available
Biodiversity metrics often integrate data on the presence and abundance of multiple species. Yet understanding covariation of changes to the numbers of individuals, the evenness of species’ relative abundances, and the total number of species remains limited. Using individual-based rarefaction curves, we introduce a conceptual framework to understa...
Preprint
Full-text available
The structure of ecosystems is usually determined by the shape of the organisms that build it, commonly known as ecosystem engineers. Understanding to what extent plasticity and environmental filtering determine variation in ecosystem engineer physical structure is necessary to predict how ecosystem structure may change. Here, we explored coral sur...
Preprint
Global change has altered biodiversity and impacted ecosystem functions and services around the planet. Understanding the effects of anthropogenic drivers like human use and climate change on biodiversity change has become a key challenge for science and policy. However, our knowledge of biodiversity change is limited by the available data and thei...
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Biodiversity is a multifaceted concept covering different levels of organisation from genes to ecosystems. Biodiversity has at least three dimensions: (i) Taxonomic diversity (TD): a measure that is sensitive to the number and abundances of species. (ii) Phylogenetic diversity (PD): a measure that incorporates not only species abundances but also s...
Data
Supplementary Appendixes S1-S2 linked to the article: Gómez-Gras D, Linares C, Dornelas M, Madin JS, Brambilla V, Ledoux J-B, López-Sendino P, Bensoussan N, Garrabou J (2021) Climate change transforms the functional identity of Mediterranean coralligenous assemblages. Ecology Letters.
Data
Supplementary Tables S1_S5 linked to the article: Gómez-Gras D, Linares C, Dornelas M, Madin JS, Brambilla V, Ledoux J-B, López-Sendino P, Bensoussan N, Garrabou J (2021) Climate change transforms the functional identity of Mediterranean coralligenous assemblages. Ecology Letters.
Data
Supplementary Figures S1_S7 linked to the article: Gómez-Gras D, Linares C, Dornelas M, Madin JS, Brambilla V, Ledoux J-B, López-Sendino P, Bensoussan N, Garrabou J (2021) Climate change transforms the functional identity of Mediterranean coralligenous assemblages. Ecology Letters.
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Quantifying changes in functional community structure driven by disturbance is critical to anticipate potential shifts in ecosystem functioning. However, how marine heatwaves (MHWs) affect the functional structure of temperate coral‐dominated communities is poorly understood. Here, we used five long‐term (> 10 years) records of Mediterranean corall...
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Species abundance distributions (SADs) describe community structure and are a key component of biodiversity theory and research. Although different distributions have been proposed to represent SADs at different scales, a systematic empirical assessment of how SAD shape varies across wide scale gradients is lacking. Here, we examined 11 empirical l...
Preprint
Full-text available
Land-use change is widely regarded as a simplifying and homogenising force in nature. In contrast, analysing global land-use reconstructions from the 10th to 20th centuries, we found progressive increases in the number, evenness, and diversity of ecosystems (including human-modified land-use types) across the globe. Ecosystem diversity increased mo...
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Full-text available
Our knowledge of ecological stability is built on assumptions of scale. These assumptions limit our ability to reach a generalizable and mechanistic understanding of stability under global environmental change. Moving towards a multi-scale approach—across space, time, and environment—will allow us to better understand the intrinsic (e.g. demographi...
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A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2920-6.
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The discovery of multi-species synchronous spawning of scleractinian corals on the Great Barrier Reef in the 1980s stimulated an extraordinary effort to document spawning times in other parts of the globe. Unfortunately, most of these data remain unpublished which limits our understanding of regional and global reproductive patterns. The Coral Spaw...
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Recent analyses have reported catastrophic global declines in vertebrate populations1,2. However, the distillation of many trends into a global mean index obscures the variation that can inform conservation measures and can be sensitive to analytical decisions. For example, previous analyses have estimated a mean vertebrate decline of more than 50%...
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Structurally complex habitats tend to contain more species and higher total abundances than simple habitats. This ecological paradigm is grounded in first principles: species richness scales with area, and surface area and niche density increase with three-dimensional complexity. Here we present a geometric basis for surface habitats that unifies e...
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High turnover leads to novel combinations of species and involves high extinction
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As pressures on biodiversity increase, a better understanding of how assemblages are responding is needed. Because rare species, defined here as those that have locally low abundances, make up a high proportion of assemblage species lists, understanding how the number of rare species within assemblages is changing will help elucidate patterns of re...
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Climate change is reshaping global biodiversity as species respond to changing temperatures. However, the net effects of climate-driven species redistribution on local assemblage diversity remain unknown. Here, we relate trends in species richness and abundance from 21,500 terrestrial and marine assemblage time series across temperate regions (23.5...
Article
Land-use change and forest biodiversity Land-use change by humans, particularly forest loss, is influencing Earth's biodiversity through time. To assess the influence of forest loss on population and biodiversity change, Daskalova et al. integrated data from more than 6000 time series of species' abundance, richness, and composition in ecological a...
Preprint
Reef-building coral assemblages are typically species-rich, yet the processes maintaining coral biodiversity remain poorly understood. Disturbance has long been believed to promote coral species coexistence by reducing the strength of competition. However, such disturbance-induced effects have since been shown to be insufficient on their own to pre...
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Trends in insect abundance vary across time, ecosystems, and continents
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Abstract Climate change and other anthropogenic drivers of biodiversity change are unequally distributed across the world. Overlap in the distributions of different drivers have important implications for biodiversity change attribution and the potential for interactive effects. However, the spatial relationships among different drivers and whether...
Preprint
Full-text available
Structurally complex habitats tend to contain more species and higher total abundances than simple habitats. This ecological paradigm is grounded in first principles: species richness scales with area, and surface area and niche density increase with three-dimensional complexity. Here we present a geometric basis for surface habitats that unifies e...
Article
Body size is a trait that broadly influences the demography and ecology of organisms. In unitary organisms, body size tends to increase with age. In modular organisms, body size can either increase or decrease with age, with size changes being the net difference between modules added through growth and modules lost through partial mortality. Rates...
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Coral morphology has important implications across scales, from differences in physiology, to the environments they are found, through to their role as ecosystem engineers. However, quantifying morphology across taxa is difficult, and so morphological variation is typically captured via coarse growth form categories (e.g. arborescent and massive)....
Preprint
Full-text available
Climate change is reshaping global biodiversity as species respond to changing temperatures. However, the net effects of climate-driven species redistribution on local assemblage diversity remain unknown. Here, we relate trends in species richness and abundance from 21,500 terrestrial and marine assemblage time series across temperate regions (23.5...
Article
Biodiversity change, that is how the taxonomic identities and abundances of species in ecological systems are changing over time, has two facets: temporal α diversity and temporal β diversity. To date, temporal α diversity has received most attention even though compositional shifts in assemblages exceed expectations based on ecological theory. Gro...
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Rapid intensification of environmental disturbances has sparked widespread decline and compositional shifts in foundation species in ecosystems worldwide. Now, an emergent challenge is to understand the consequences of shifts and losses in such habitat‐forming species for associated communities and ecosystem processes. Recently, consecutive coral b...
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Earth‐based observations of the biosphere are spatially biased in ways that can limit our ability to detect macroecological patterns and changes in biodiversity. To resolve this problem, we need to supplement the ad hoc data currently collected with planned biodiversity monitoring, in order to approximate global stratified random sampling of the pl...
Article
Spatial structure of species change Biodiversity is undergoing rapid change driven by climate change and other human influences. Blowes et al. analyze the global patterns in temporal change in biodiversity using a large quantity of time-series data from different regions (see the Perspective by Eriksson and Hillebrand). Their findings reveal clear...
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While biodiversity loss continues globally, assessments of regional and local change over time have been equivocal. Here, we assess changes in plant species richness and beta diversity over 140 years at the level of regions within a country. Using 19th‐century flora censuses for 14 Danish regions as a baseline, we overcome previous criticisms conce...
Article
Susceptibility to human‐driven environmental changes are mediated by species traits. Therefore, identifying traits that predict organism performance, ecosystem function, and response to changes in environmental conditions can help forecast how ecosystems are responding to the Anthropocene. Morphology dictates how organisms interact with their envir...
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Scientists disagree about the nature of biodiversity change. While there is evidence for widespread declines from population surveys, assemblage surveys reveal a mix of declines and increases. These conflicting conclusions may be caused by the use of different metrics: assemblage metrics may average out drastic changes in individual populations. Al...
Article
Although evidence suggests that humans have elevated global extinction rates and lowered global species richness, species richness at scales smaller than the globe can increase, decrease or remain the same. However, the role of spatial scale is rarely considered as a modifier in driving how richness change unfolds. We first observed richness change...
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The morphology of coral colonies has important implications for their biological and ecological performance, including their role as ecosystem engineers. However, given that morphology is difficult to quantify across many taxa, morphological variation is typically shoehorned into coarse growth form categories (e.g., arborescent and digitate). In th...
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Full-text available
Corals provide structure and food sources vital for the maintenance of coral reef fish diversity. However, coral reefs are currently under threat from climate change, which has led to the largest recorded loss of live coral. The loss of live coral, and corresponding shift in reef benthic composition, are predicted to impact the abundance and compos...
Preprint
Full-text available
Corals provide structure and food sources vital for the maintenance of coral reef fish diversity. However, coral reefs are currently under threat from climate change, which has led to the largest recorded loss of live coral. The loss of live coral, and corresponding shift in reef benthic composition, are predicted to impact the abundance and compos...
Preprint
Corals provide structure and food sources vital for the maintenance of coral reef fish diversity. However, coral reefs are currently under threat from climate change, which has led to the largest recorded loss of live coral. The loss of live coral, and corresponding shift in reef benthic composition, are predicted to impact the abundance and compos...
Article
β‐diversity (variation in community composition) is a fundamental component of biodiversity, with implications for macroecology, community ecology and conservation. However, its scaling properties are poorly understood. Here, we systematically assessed the spatial scaling of β‐diversity using 12 empirical large‐scale datasets including different ta...
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Full-text available
Global assessments have highlighted land-use change as a key driver of biodiversity change. However, we lack real-world global-scale estimates of how habitat transformations such as forest loss and gain are reshaping biodiversity over time. Here, we quantify the influence of 150 years of forest cover change on populations and ecological assemblages...
Article
Disturbances, such as cyclones, have a major effect on the structure and dynamics of coral reef assemblages. However, the effect of cyclones on demographic traits, such as fecundity, has rarely been quantified, and direct estimates of mortality at the species level are rare. Here, we document the effect of Severe Tropical Cyclone Nathan on the demo...
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Human activities have fundamentally altered biodiversity. Extinction rates are elevated and model projections suggest drastic biodiversity declines. Yet, observed temporal trends in recent decades are highly variable, despite consistent change in species composition. Here, we uncover clear spatial patterns within this variation. We estimated trends...
Article
Coral reefs are being subjected to an increase in the frequency and intensity of disturbance, such as bleaching and cyclones, and it is important to document the effects of such disturbance on reef coral assemblages. Between March 2014 and May 2017, the reefs of Lizard Island in the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef were affected by 4 cons...
Preprint
Full-text available
Climate change and other anthropogenic drivers of biodiversity change are unequally distributed across the world. The geographic patterns of different drivers, and the spatial overlap among these drivers, have important implications for the direction and pace of biodiversity change, yet are not well documented. Moreover, it is unknown if the geogra...
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Full-text available
Temperature regimes have multiple spatial and temporal dimensions that have different impacts on biodiversity. Signatures of warming across these dimensions may contribute uniquely to the large-scale species redistributions and abundance changes that underpin community dynamics. A comprehensive review of the literature reveals that 86% of studies w...
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Full-text available
Motivation: The BioTIME database contains raw data on species identities and abundances in ecological assemblages through time. These data enable users to calculate temporal trends in biodiversity within and amongst assemblages using a broad range of metrics. BioTIME is being developed as a community-led open-source database of biodiversity time se...
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Full-text available
Motivation: The BioTIME database contains raw data on species identities and abundances in ecological assemblages through time. These data enable users to calculate temporal trends in biodiversity within and amongst assemblages using a broad range of metrics. BioTIME is being developed as a community-led open-source database of biodiversity time se...
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Full-text available
Coral bleaching events have caused extensive mortality on reefs around the world. Juvenile corals are generally less affected by bleaching than their conspecific adults and therefore have the potential to buffer population declines and seed recovery. Here, we use juvenile and adult abundance data at 20 sites encircling Lizard Island, Great Barrier...
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Full-text available
Motivation: The BioTIME database contains raw data on species identities and abundances in ecological assemblages through time. These data enable users to calculate temporal trends in biodiversity within and amongst assemblages using a broad range of metrics. BioTIME is being developed as a community led open-source database of biodiversity time se...
Article
Competition is an important determinant of assemblage structure and population regulation, often resulting in decreased growth, fecundity or survival. In corals, most studies testing for an effect of competition on demographic traits, such as growth, have been experimental and often impose very high levels of competition upon colonies. To more real...
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The Earth's ecosystems are under unprecedented pressure, yet the nature of contemporary biodiversity change is not well understood. Growing evidence that community size is regulated highlights the need for improved understanding of community dynamics. As stability in community size could be underpinned by marked temporal turnover, a key question is...
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Full-text available
Coral reefs are a valuable and vulnerable marine ecosystem. The structure of coral reefs influences their health and ability to fulfill ecosystem functions and services. However, monitoring reef corals largely relies on 1D or 2D estimates of coral cover and abundance that overlook change in ecologically significant aspects of the reefs because they...