Hotspots and bright spots in functional and taxonomic fish diversity

Katya Kovalenko, Lucinda B. Johnson, Valerie J. Brady, Jan J.H. Ciborowski, Matthew J. Cooper, Joseph P. Gathman, Gary A. Lamberti, Ashley H. Moerke, Carl R. Ruetz, Donald G. Uzarski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Planning for freshwater conservation is often secondary to that for terrestrial protected areas and rarely considers all aspects of biodiversity, such as functional biodiversity. To illustrate the application of functional diversity in conservation planning, we used data from a large-scale monitoring program to characterize patterns in functional and taxonomic fish biodiversity across coastal freshwater wetlands in northern Laurentian Great Lakes. We assessed the relationship between these 2 types of diversity to identify areas most likely to maximize conservation benefits in terms of these dimensions of biodiversity. In addition, we used an outlier analysis to find areas with unexpectedly high taxonomic or functional diversity in highly impacted watersheds, or bright spots. Taxonomic and functional fish diversity metrics were not closely related, and different areas across the basin supported highest taxonomic and functional diversities. Several bright spots had either very high taxonomic richness or functional diversity despite intensive anthropogenic land use, possibly indicating high resilience and conservation potential. These findings are relevant in the context of freshwater protected area prioritization because there are few guidelines available for nomination and selection of new freshwater protected areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-490
Number of pages11
JournalFreshwater Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Jacob Dybiec for sharing the RankSum stressor gradient and to Sergey Ilyushkin for providing an inspiration for this study. We thank Kristofer Johnson NRIGIS for producing the maps and all coastal wetland monitoring (CWS) co-PIs, contributors, and staff. High-resolution maps are available from the authors on request. Funding for the CWM was provided by the Great Lakes National Program Office under the United States Environmental Protection Agency, grant numbers GL-00E00612-0 and 00E01567. The research described in this work has been partly funded by the US EPA, but it has not been subjected to the agency’s required peer and policy review and, therefore, does not necessarily reflect the views of the agency and no official endorsement should be inferred. This is contribution number 631 from the Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota Duluth and contribution number 109 of the CMU Institute for Great Lakes Research. We thank Associate Editor Dr. Brad Taylor and 2 anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by The Society for Freshwater Science. All rights reserved.


  • Conservation prioritization
  • Freshwater fish
  • Freshwater protected areas
  • Functional evenness
  • Great Lakes
  • Outlier analysis


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