Declining diversity of wild-caught species puts dietary nutrient supplies at risk

Heilpern, Sebastian Arnold; DeFries, Ruth S.; Fiorella, Kathryn; Flecker, Alexander; Sethi, Suresh A.; Uriarte, Maria; Naeem, Shahid

Although biodiversity loss adversely influences a variety of ecosystem functions, how declining wild food diversity affects nutrient supplies for people is poorly understood. Here, we analyze the impact of declining biodiversity on nutrients supplied by fish using detailed information from the Peruvian Amazon, where inland fisheries provide a critical source of nutrition for many of the region’s 800,000 people. We found that the impacts of biodiversity loss on nutrient supplies depended on compensation, trophic dynamics, and functional diversity. When small sedentary species compensated for declines in large migratory species, fatty acid supplies increased, while zinc and iron supplies decreased. In contrast, the probability of failing to maintain supplies or nutrient supply risk increased when species were nutritionally unique. Our results show that trait-based regulations and public health polices need to consider biodiversity’s vital role in sustaining nutritional benefits for over 2 billion people dependent on wild foods across the globe.

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Academic Units
Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
Published Here
January 28, 2022