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Climate Change Affects Marine Biodiversity
International, 9/29/2015

In a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change an international team of researchers sets out the impacts of climate change on the distribution of nearly 13,000 marine species, twelve times more the additional species previously studied.

The study found that a rapidly warming climate would cause many species to expand into new regions, which could affect native species while others with restricted ranges, particularly around the tropics, are more likely to face extinction.

The co-author, Professor John Pandolfi of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at the University of Queensland, said that global patterns of species richness change significantly, with considerable regional variation.

"This study was particularly useful because it not only gave us the hope that the species have the potential to track and trace climate changes, but also gave us cause for concern, especially in the tropics, where heavy losses of biodiversity is expected" says Professor Pandolfi.

"This is particularly worrying and very akin to the coral reefs of Australia, since additional studies have demonstrated a high risk of extinction in tropical biota, where localized human impacts and climate change have led to a substantial degradation.”

To model the expected impact of climate change on marine biodiversity researchers used climate and speed paths, a measure that combines the speed and direction of movement of the bands of ocean temperature over time, along with information about thermal tolerance and habitat preference.

They say that the analysis provides the simplest expectation for the future distribution of marine biodiversity, showing spatial patterns of recurrent high rates of species invasions, with local extinctions.

The researchers say that this will make ecological communities that are different now will be much more similar to each other, at the end of the century in many regions.


Topic(s):    BiodiversityClimate