Identifying the multifaceted biodiversity hotspots for marine mammals and their spatial overlap with human threats at the global scale.
We compiled a functional trait database for 121 species of marine mammals characterized by 14 functional traits grouped into five categories. We estimated marine mammal species richness (SR) as well as functional (FD) and phylogenetic diversity (PD) per grid cell (1° × 1°) using the FRic index (a measure of trait diversity as the volume of functional space occupied by the species present in an assemblage) and the PD index (the amount of evolutionary history represented by a set of species), respectively. Finally, we assessed the spatial congruence of these three facets of biodiversity hotspots (defined as 2.5% and 5% of the highest values of SR, FD and PD) with human threats at the global scale.
We showed that the FRic index was weakly correlated with both SR and the PD index. Specifically, SR and FRic displayed a triangular relationship, that is, increasing variability in FRic along the species richness gradient. We also observed a striking lack of spatial congruence (<0.1%) between current human threats and the distribution of the multiple facets of biodiversity hotspots.
We highlighted that functional diversity calculated using the FRic index is weakly associated with the species richness of marine mammals world-wide. This is one of the most endangered vertebrate groups playing a key ecological role in marine ecosystems. This finding calls for caution when using only species richness as a benchmark for defining marine mammal biodiversity hotspots. The very low level of spatial congruence between hotspots of current threats and those of the multiple facets of marine mammal biodiversity suggests that current biodiversity patterns for this group have already been greatly affected by their history of exploitation.