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Marine heatwaves threaten global biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services


Smale, DA and Wernberg, T and Oliver, ECJ and Thomsen, M and Harvey, BP and Straub, SC and Burrows, MT and Alexander, LV and Benthuysen, JA and Donat, MG and Feng, M and Hobday, AJ and Holbrook, NJ and Perkins-Kirkpatrick, SE and Scannell, HA and Sen Gupta, A and Payne, BL and Moore, PJ, Marine heatwaves threaten global biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services, Nature Climate Change, 9, (4) pp. 306-312. ISSN 1758-678X (2019) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2019 Springer Nature

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41558-019-0412-1


The global ocean has warmed substantially over the past century, with far-reaching implications for marine ecosystems. Concurrent with long-term persistent warming, discrete periods of extreme regional ocean warming (marine heatwaves, MHWs) have increased in frequency. Here we quantify trends and attributes of MHWs across all ocean basins and examine their biological impacts from species to ecosystems. Multiple regions in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans are particularly vulnerable to MHW intensification, due to the co-existence of high levels of biodiversity, a prevalence of species found at their warm range edges or concurrent non-climatic human impacts. The physical attributes of prominent MHWs varied considerably, but all had deleterious impacts across a range of biological processes and taxa, including critical foundation species (corals, seagrasses and kelps). MHWs, which will probably intensify with anthropogenic climate change, are rapidly emerging as forceful agents of disturbance with the capacity to restructure entire ecosystems and disrupt the provision of ecological goods and services in coming decades.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:marine heatwaves, threats to global biodiversity, provision of ecosystem services
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Physical oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Climate variability (excl. social impacts)
UTAS Author:Oliver, ECJ (Dr Eric Oliver)
UTAS Author:Holbrook, NJ (Professor Neil Holbrook)
ID Code:133416
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:522
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2019-06-27
Last Modified:2020-07-17

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