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A continental-scale analysis of fish assemblage functional structure in European rivers


M. Logez, UR HBAN, 1 rue Pierre-Gilles de Gennes – CS 10030, FR-92761 Antony, France.


The theory of traits (life-history, ecological and biological traits) states that a species’ characteristics might enable its persistence and development in given environmental conditions. If environment is the major factor controlling functional assemblage structure, species with similar attributes are expected to inhabit a similar environment. This study uses trait states in 849 European riverine fish assemblages to analyze the influence of environment, phylogeny and biogeography on the functional structure of these assemblages. European fish assemblages were highly structured and two main syndromes (a suite of coevolved traits) were observed: 1) assemblages dominated by stenothermal intolerant individuals and 2) assemblages dominated by eurythermal, eurytopic and tolerant individuals. Temperature and stream physical structure were the two main environmental factors explaining the diversity of fish assemblage functional structures, while the influence of biogeographic factors was weak, once environment was taken into account. This suggests that, whatever the regional species pool, similar assemblage functional structures will be found in similar environmental conditions. The phylogenetic relatedness between species might also explain to some extent the associations between the species traits observed among European fish assemblages.