Heilpern S, Sethi SA, Barthem RB, Doria CRC, Garcia-Vasquez A, Goulding M, Isaac V, Batista V, Duponchelle F, Naeem S, Flecker AS (2022) Biodiversity underpins fisheries resilience to exploitation in the Amazon river basin. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 389:20220726
Inland fisheries provide nutrition and livelihoods for many globally, yet their status is rarely assessed due to their socio-ecological complexity and pervasive lack of data. Here we leverage an unprecedented landings time series from the Amazon, Earth’s largest river basin, together with theoretical models to examine (i) taxonomic and trait-based signatures of exploitation in inland fish landings, and (ii) implications of changing biodiversity for fisheries resilience. We find multispecies exploitation typical of diverse inland fisheries results in a hump-shaped landings evenness curve. Along this trajectory, the sequential replacement of abundant and large species with faster growing and smaller species can maintain harvest for a period of time. But, continued biodiversity depletion reduces the pool of compensating species and consequently diminishes fisheries resilience. Importantly, higher biodiversity can delay fishery collapse. We conclude that a hump-shaped trajectory in landings evenness could characterize multispecies inland fisheries and aid in assessing their sustainability.