Researchers from the UK, Japan, Australia, USA, Germany, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand analyzed three million records of thousands of species from 200 ecological communities across the globe. They showed how fish, demersal and planktonic communities changed as warm-water species increase and cold-water marine species become less successful due to climate warming. Using species distribution data in OBIS they modeled the thermal niche of each species and combined these to characterize the thermal diversity of the community. Communities were found to change over the years as predicted by these thermal indices. Comparisons of surface and near seabed temperatures showed that deeper waters appeared to provide a ‘cool’ refuge for some species as seas warmed. The study looked at data from the Northern Hemisphere including the North Atlantic, Western Europe, Newfoundland, and the Labrador Sea, east coast USA, the Gulf of Mexico, and the North Pacific from California to Alaska with the North Atlantic showing the largest rise in average temperature during the time period. The analyses validate previous projections about the rapid responses of marine life to ocean warming.

Reference: Burrows MT, Bates AE, Costello MJ, Edwards M, Edgar GJ, Fox CJ, Halpern BS, Hiddink JG, Pinsky ML, Batt RD, Molinos JC, Payne B, Schoeman D, Stuart-Smith RD, Poloczanska ES. 2019. Thermal affinities and vertical temperature gradients explain recent responses to warming in ocean communities. Nature Climate Change.


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