Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 24278356
PLoS ONE 2013;8(11):e80968
Biodiversity has reached a critical state. In this context, stakeholders need indicators that both provide a synthetic view of the state of biodiversity and can be used as communication tools. Using river fishes as model, we developed community indicators that aim at integrating various components of biodiversity including interactions between species and ultimately the processes influencing ecosystem functions. We developed indices at the species level based on (i) the concept of specialization directly linked to the niche theory and (ii) the concept of originality measuring the overall degree of differences between a species and all other species in the same clade. Five major types of originality indices, based on phylogeny, habitat-linked and diet-linked morphology, life history traits, and ecological niche were analyzed. In a second step, we tested the relationship between all biodiversity indices and land use as a proxy of human pressures. Fish communities showed no significant temporal trend for most of these indices, but both originality indices based on diet- and habitat- linked morphology showed a significant increase through time. From a spatial point of view, all indices clearly singled out Corsica Island as having higher average originality and specialization. Finally, we observed that the originality index based on niche traits might be used as an informative biodiversity indicator because we showed it is sensitive to different land use classes along a landscape artificialization gradient. Moreover, its response remained unchanged over two other land use classifications at the global scale and also at the regional scale.