UNC biologist John Bruno and colleagues describe how ocean warming will affect global patterns of biodiversity in their latest paper in the journal Nature.
Bruno writes about the study on his Sea Monster blog.
To survive in a changing climate, a species may need to move in order to stay in an area with a constant average temperature. Such mobility would depend on an ability to keep pace with a moving climate — and on the absence of physical barriers to migration, Nature editors write in a summary of the paper. Bruno and authors use the velocity of climate change to construct a global map of how ecological climate niches have shifted in recent decades and go on to predict changes in species distribution to the end of this century.
The study shows that geographical connections and physical barriers — mostly coasts — have profound effects on the expected ability of organisms to track their preferred climate.
Bruno’s colleague, Michael Burrows of the Scottish Association for Marine Science, writes about the research in this post on The Conversation, “Fish may end up in hot water as climate warms the ocean.”
Burrows gives examples of numerous fish and invertebrate species that have moved toward cooler regions, “in some cases with important consequences for local biodiversity.”