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Consequences of the introduction of exotic and translocated species and future extirpations on the functional diversity of freshwater fish assemblages


  • Editor: Janne Soininen

Correspondence: Shin-ichiro S. Matsuzaki, Center for Environmental Biology and Ecosystem Studies, National Institute for Environmental Studies, 16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki 305-8506, Japan.




To explore the effects of the introduction of exotic and translocated species and possible future extirpation of native species on the functional diversity (FD) of freshwater fish assemblages.


Japanese archipelago.


We examined spatio-temporal changes in species richness, FD, functional richness (the number of trait-based functional groups), and the functional group composition between historical and current fish assemblages for 27 eco-regions, and compared the relative effects of the introduction of exotic and translocated species on FD. We also used a null model approach to determine the assembly patterns and the extent of functional redundancy. Finally, we determined the effect of the loss of endangered species on FD by comparing the observed losses with simulated random loss.


Through the introductions of non-native species, the species richness, FD and functional richness of the fish assemblages increased 2.4-, 1.6- and 2.1-fold, respectively. The functional group composition also changed largely through the additions of new functional groups. Exotic species had a significantly greater effect size than translocated species, but there were no differences in the overall net effects of exotic and translocated species. Null modelling approaches showed that the observed FD was higher than expected by chance (i.e. trait divergent) in both historical and current assemblages. There was also low functional redundancy. In our simulation, FD decreased in proportion to the loss of species, independent of whether the species were endangered.

Main conclusions

We demonstrated that both exotic and translocated species may change FD and functional group composition, which might have dramatic consequences for ecosystem processes. We suggest that the future extirpation of even a few native species can cause a substantial loss of FD. Our findings emphasize the need to improve conservation strategies based on species richness and conservation status, and to incorporate translocated species into targets of the management of non-native species.