More than one-third of coral-reef fish species in the Indian Ocean, such as the butterflyfish Chaetodon trifascialis (pictured), could become extinct in their local environment as a result of climate change.

Nicholas Graham at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, and his colleagues developed a method for predicting how vulnerable species are to local extinction, taking into account variables such as how picky the fish are about their food or habitat.


The researchers found that 56 of the 134 fish species studied were at risk of losing their habitat, shelter or food sources as a result of climate change. Interestingly, those fish at greatest risk from climate change were not the same as those at greatest risk from overfishing. The predictions could be used to better manage animal populations and habitats, helping to ensure survival under climate change and other pressures.

Ecol. Lett. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01592.x (2011)