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Tracking widespread climate-driven change on temperate and tropical reefs


Stuart-Smith, RD and Edgar, GJ and Clausius, E and Oh, ES and Barrett, NS and Emslie, MJ and Bates, AE and Bax, N and Brock, D and Cooper, A and Davis, TR and Day, PB and Dunic, JC and Green, A and Hasweera, H and Hicks, J and Holmes, TH and Jones, B and Jordan, A and Knott, N and Larkin, MF and Ling, SD and Mooney, P and Pocklington, JB and Seroussi, Y and Shaw, I and Shields, D and Smith, M and Soler, GA and Stuart-Smith, J and Turak, E and Turnbull, JW and Mellin, C, Tracking widespread climate-driven change on temperate and tropical reefs, Current Biology, 32, (19) pp. 4128-4138. ISSN 0960-9822 (2022) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2022 Elsevier Inc.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.cub.2022.07.067


Warming seas, marine heatwaves, and habitat degradation are increasingly widespread phenomena affecting marine biodiversity, yet our understanding of their broader impacts is largely derived from collective insights from independent localized studies. Insufficient systematic broadscale monitoring limits our understanding of the true extent of these impacts and our capacity to track these at scales relevant to national policies and international agreements. Using an extensive time series of co-located reef fish community structure and habitat data spanning 12 years and the entire Australian continent, we found that reef fish community responses to changing temperatures and habitats are dynamic and widespread but regionally patchy. Shifts in composition and abundance of the fish community often occurred within 2 years of environmental or habitat change, although the relative importance of these two mechanisms of climate impact tended to differ between tropical and temperate zones. The clearest of these changes on temperate and subtropical reefs were temperature related, with responses measured by the reef fish thermal index indicating reshuffling according to the thermal affinities of species present. On low latitude coral reefs, the community generalization index indicated shifting dominance of habitat generalist fishes through time, concurrent with changing coral cover. Our results emphasize the importance of maintaining local ecological detail when scaling up datasets to inform national policies and global biodiversity targets. Scaled-up ecological monitoring is needed to discriminate among increasingly diverse drivers of large-scale biodiversity change and better connect presently disjointed systems of biodiversity observation, indicator research, and governance.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:biodiversity, climate change, temperate reef, tropical reef
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Other animal production and animal primary products
Objective Field:Animal adaptation to climate change
UTAS Author:Stuart-Smith, RD (Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)
UTAS Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
UTAS Author:Clausius, E (Miss Ella Clausius)
UTAS Author:Oh, ES (Miss Lizzi Oh)
UTAS Author:Barrett, NS (Associate Professor Neville Barrett)
UTAS Author:Cooper, A (Miss Antonia Cooper)
UTAS Author:Day, PB (Mr Paul Day)
UTAS Author:Hasweera, H (Miss Norfaizny Hasweera)
UTAS Author:Jordan, A (Dr Alan Jordan)
UTAS Author:Ling, SD (Dr Scott Ling)
UTAS Author:Soler, GA (Mr German Soler Alarcon)
UTAS Author:Stuart-Smith, J (Dr Jemina Stuart-Smith)
UTAS Author:Turak, E (Mr Emre Turak)
ID Code:154348
Year Published:2022
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2022-11-24
Last Modified:2022-12-19

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