A functional vulnerability framework for biodiversity conservation

Arnaud Auber, Conor Waldock, Anthony Maire, Eric Goberville, Camille Albouy, Adam C Algar, Matthew McLean, Anik Brind'Amour, Alison Lesley Green, Mark Tupper, Laurent Vigliola, Kristin Kaschner, Kathleen Kesner-Reyes, Maria Beger, Jerry Tjiputra, Aurèle Toussaint, Cyrille Violle, Nicolas Mouquet, Wilfried Thuiller, David Mouillot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Setting appropriate conservation strategies in a multi-threat world is a challenging goal, especially because of natural complexity and budget limitations that prevent effective management of all ecosystems. Safeguarding the most threatened ecosystems requires accurate and integrative quantification of their vulnerability and their functioning, particularly the potential loss of species trait diversity which imperils their functioning. However, the magnitude of threats and associated biological responses both have high uncertainties. Additionally, a major difficulty is the recurrent lack of reference conditions for a fair and operational measurement of vulnerability. Here, we present a functional vulnerability framework that incorporates uncertainty and reference conditions into a generalizable tool. Through in silico simulations of disturbances, our framework allows us to quantify the vulnerability of communities to a wide range of threats. We demonstrate the relevance and operationality of our framework, and its global, scalable and quantitative comparability, through three case studies on marine fishes and mammals. We show that functional vulnerability has marked geographic and temporal patterns. We underline contrasting contributions of species richness and functional redundancy to the level of vulnerability among case studies, indicating that our integrative assessment can also identify the drivers of vulnerability in a world where uncertainty is omnipresent.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-09-14
Acknowledgements: This research is supported by the Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité (FRB) and Electricité de France (EDF) in the context of the CESAB project ‘Causes and consequences of functional rarity from local to global scales’ (FREE) and by FRB and FFP (France Filière Pêche) in the context of the CESAB project ‘Climate change effects on exploited marine communities’ (MAESTRO). This research was also funded through the 2017–2018 Belmont Forum and BiodivERsA REEF-FUTURES project under the BiodivScen ERA-Net COFUND program along with the French National Research Agency, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Grant No. RGPBB/525590), the Canada Research Chairs Program, the Ocean Frontier Institute, and the Research Council of Norway (no. 295340). AT was supported by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (PSG505). We acknowledge Charlie Gough (from Blue Venture: https://blueventures.org/about), Ivor Williams (from the NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystems Division in Hawaii), Michel Kulbicki (from the GASPAR project), Nicholas A.J. Graham, Andrew Hoey, David Booth, Alan Friedlander, Shaun Wilson, Pascale Chabanet, Jessica Zamborain Mason, Eran Brokovich, Marah Hardt, Sebastian Ferse, Joshua Cinner, Laurent Wantiez, the Gouvernement de la Nouvelle-Calédonie, province Sud de la Nouvelle-Calédonie and province Nord de la Nouvelle-Calédonie for SERF data provision. We thank all the people who participated in the fieldwork. We acknowledge Rick Stuart-Smith and Graham Edgar (University of Tasmania) for their help on RLS data. We finally acknowledge the AquaMaps team and Cristina Garilao for data provision.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'A functional vulnerability framework for biodiversity conservation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this