Projects per year
A fundamental challenge in ecology is to understand why species are found where they are and predict where they are likely to occur in the future. Trait-based approaches may provide such understanding, because it is the traits and adaptations of species that determine which environments they can inhabit. It is therefore important to identify key traits that determine species distributions and investigate how these traits relate to the environment. Based on scientific bottom-trawl surveys of marine fish abundances and traits of >1,200 species, we investigate trait-environment relationships and project the trait composition of marine fish communities across the continental shelf seas of the Northern hemisphere. We show that traits related to growth, maturation and lifespan respond most strongly to the environment. This is reflected by a pronounced "fast-slow continuum" of fish life-histories, revealing that traits vary with temperature at large spatial scales, but also with depth and seasonality at more local scales. Our findings provide insight into the structure of marine fish communities and suggest that global warming will favour an expansion of fast-living species. Knowledge of the global and local drivers of trait distributions can thus be used to predict future responses of fish communities to environmental change.