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]
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.
Reef Life Survey, fishes, invertebrates, reef, climate change