A study of larvae of fishes off southern California has shown for the first time how climate change can affect the distribution and abundance of species.
Chih-Hao Hsieh, now at the National Taiwan University in Taipei, and his colleagues studied 34 species. When comparing data from a cooler period of 1951–1976 with those from a warmer time of 1977–1998, the team found a significant shift in the vertical or lateral distribution of 16 species, and that eight species had shifted their larger geographical distribution. The plankton-eating fishes typically sought cooler waters.
Surprisingly, the group found an overall increase in abundance, and that offshore fishes moved closer to shore. Thus climate change can drive species into new habitats, which could have unexpected ecological consequences.
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Ecology: Bouillabaisse. Nature 459, 142 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/459142b