Skip to main content

Accounting for intraspecific diversity when examining relationships between non-native species and functional diversity


Quantifying changes in functional diversity, the facet of biodiversity accounting for the biological features of organisms, has been advocated as one of the most integrative ways to unravel how communities are affected by human-induced perturbations. The present study assessed how functional diversity patterns varied among communities that differed in the degree to which non-native species dominated the community in temperate lake fish communities and whether accounting for intraspecific functional variability could provide a better understanding of the variation of functional diversity across communities. Four functional diversity indices were computed for 18 temperate lake fish communities along a gradient of non-native fish dominance using morphological functional traits assessed for each life-stage within each species. First, we showed that intraspecific variability in functional traits was high and comparable to interspecific variability. Second, we found that non-native fish were functionally distinct from native fish. Finally, we demonstrated that there was a significant relationship between functional diversity and the degree to which non-native fish currently dominated the community and that this association could be better detected when accounting for intraspecific functional variability. These findings highlighted the importance of incorporating intraspecific variability to better quantify the variation of functional diversity patterns in communities facing human-induced perturbations.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


Download references


We are grateful to the lake owners and managers for access to the gravel pit lakes and to the gravière team for the help during the fieldwork. We thank L. Comte, T. Pool, the Handling Editor and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions that improve this manuscript. Fish sampling was performed under the authorizations ‘Arrete Prefectoral 31/07/2012′ and ‘Arrete Prefectoral 10/07/2013′. This work was supported by the ONEMA (Projects ISOLAC and ERADINVA), an ‘‘ERG Marie Curie’’ Grant (PERG08-GA-2010- 276969) to JC and a CSC (China Scholarship Council) scholarship to ZT.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



JC, SV and ZT designed the study. TZ acquired and analyzed the data, wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors originally formulated the idea, developed the methodology, and contributed to revisions.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to T. Zhao.

Additional information

Communicated by David Chalcraft.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 513 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Zhao, T., Villéger, S. & Cucherousset, J. Accounting for intraspecific diversity when examining relationships between non-native species and functional diversity. Oecologia 189, 171–183 (2019).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Non-native species
  • Functional traits
  • Intraspecific variability
  • Functional diversity
  • Community assembly