eCite Digital Repository

Thermal biases and vulnerability to warming in the world’s marine fauna


Stuart-Smith, RD and Edgar, GJ and Barrett, NS and Kininmonth, SJ and Bates, AE, Thermal biases and vulnerability to warming in the world's marine fauna, Nature, 528, (7580) pp. 88-92. ISSN 0028-0836 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved

DOI: doi:10.1038/nature16144


A critical assumption underlying projections of biodiversity change associated with global warming is that ecological communities comprise balanced mixes of warm and cool affinity species which, on average, approximate local environmental temperatures. Nevertheless, we find most shallow water marine species occupy broad thermal distributions that are aggregated in either temperate or tropical realms. These distributional trends result in ocean-scale spatial thermal biases, where communities are dominated by species with warmer or cooler affinity than local environmental temperatures. We use community-level thermal deviations from local temperatures as a form of sensitivity to warming, and combine these with projected ocean warming data to predict warming-related loss of species from present-day communities over the next century. Large changes in species composition at the site-scale appear likely, and proximity to thermal limits, as inferred from present-day species’ distributional ranges, outweighs spatial variation in warming rates in contributing to predicted rates of local species loss.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Reef Life Survey, fishes, invertebrates, reef, climate change
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Stuart-Smith, RD (Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)
UTAS Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
UTAS Author:Barrett, NS (Associate Professor Neville Barrett)
UTAS Author:Kininmonth, SJ (Dr Stuart Kininmonth)
ID Code:104001
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:124
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2015-10-30
Last Modified:2017-11-06

Repository Staff Only: item control page