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Oikonomou, A., Leprieur, F., & Leonardos, I. D. (2018). Ecomorphological diversity of freshwater fishes as a tool for conservation priority setting: a case study from a Balkan hotspot. Environ. Biol. Fishes, 101(7), 1121–1136.
Résumé: Biodiversity studies commonly focus on taxonomic diversity measures such as species richness and abundance. However, alternative measures based on ecomorphological traits are also critical for unveiling the processes shaping biodiversity and community assembly along environmental gradients. Our study presents the first analysis of habitat-trait-community structure in a Balkan biodiversity hotspot (Louros river, NW Greece), through the investigation of the relationships among freshwater fish assemblages' composition, morphological traits and habitat features. In order to provide a hierarchical classification of species' priority to protection measures, we highlight the most ecomorphologically distinct species using originality analysis. Our results suggest that the longitudinal changes of habitat variables (water temperature, depth, substrate, altitude) drive the local fish assemblages' structure highlighting the upstream-downstream gradient. We also present evidence for environmental filtering, establishing fish assemblages according to their ecomorphological traits. The calculation of the seven available indices of ecomorphological originality indicates that Valencia letourneuxi and Cobitis hellenica, which are endemic to Louros and threatened with extinction, exhibited the highest distinctiveness; thus their protection is of great importance. The methodological approach followed and the patterns described herein can contribute further to the application of community ecology theory to conservation, highlighting the need to use ecomorphological traits as a useful 'tool'.