Map from thesis

PhD defence on a trait-based approach to understanding marine communities

Thursday 27 Apr 17


Time & Place


Friday, 5 May 2017 at 13:00 


Building 303A, auditorium 44 
2820 Kgs. Lyngby

The thesis

A copy of the thesis is available for reading at DTU Aqua.
Contact PhD secretary Rikke Hansen 

Laurène Pécuchet defends her thesis "A trait-based approach to understanding marine communities’ composition, assembly and diversity" on 5 May 2017

Laurène Pécuchet defends her PhD thesis "A trait-based approach to understanding marine communities’ composition, assembly and diversity" Friday, 5 May 2017 at 13:00 at DTU, Lyngby. 


  • Principal supervisor: Senior Researcher Martin Lindegren, DTU Aqua
  • Co supervisors: Professor Ken Haste Andersen and Mark Payne, DTU Aqua


  • Professor Brian R. MacKenzie, DTU Aqua
  • Associate Professor Raul Primicerio, University of Tromsø
  • Senior Researcher Marie Nordström, Åbo Akademi University

Chairperson at defence

  • Senior Researcher, PhD Stefan Neuenfeldt,DTU Aqua

The thesis

A copy of the PhD thesis is available for reading at DTU Aqua.

Summary of the thesis

A species occurs and thrives in a community thanks to its capacity to grow, reproduce and feed in its surrounding environment. Understanding how and why some species thrive in particular areas has often been touched upon by studying the species composition of communities. Traditionally, communities are characterised by their taxonomic diversity, such as their species richness or the evenness in their abundances. However, there is growing evidence that it is not the taxonomic identity of the species per se that control its presence and abundance in a given environment but its characteristics. Species traits refer to quantitatively or qualitatively measurable characteristics of a species. Characterizing species by their key traits can permit an understanding of general mechanisms and unravel the processes affecting coexistence in communities. The aim of this thesis was to apply the trait-based approach to study the composition of marine communities located in the European Seas and relate their spatial patterns to environmental and anthropogenic pressures.

The species composition of communities can be constrained by several processes, such as competition and the environment. Using a trait-based approach, we studied the diversity and the processes influencing the composition of demersal fish communities in the Baltic Sea. While species richness was sharply decreasing from the saline Kattegat to the brackish Gdansk Bay, trait richness tended to decrease at a lower rate. We found that the species co-occurring in the Eastern Baltic Sea were in general more ecologically similar, in terms of their traits, than expected by random chance alone with a strong influence of the environment and notably the salinity gradient on the distribution and trait composition of the communities.

(Full summary can be read in the thesis)