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Biological ramifications of climate-change-mediated oceanic multi-stressors

Nature Climate Change volume 5, pages 7179 (2015) | Download Citation

Abstract

Climate change is altering oceanic conditions in a complex manner, and the concurrent amendment of multiple properties will modify environmental stress for primary producers. So far, global modelling studies have focused largely on how alteration of individual properties will affect marine life. Here, we use global modelling simulations in conjunction with rotated factor analysis to express model projections in terms of regional trends in concomitant changes to biologically influential multi-stressors. Factor analysis demonstrates that regionally distinct patterns of complex oceanic change are evident globally. Preliminary regional assessments using published evidence of phytoplankton responses to complex change reveal a wide range of future responses to interactive multi-stressors with <20–300% shifts in phytoplankton physiological rates, and many unexplored potential interactions. In a future ocean, provinces will encounter different permutations of change that will probably alter the dominance of key phytoplankton groups and modify regional productivity, ecosystem structure and biogeochemistry. Consideration of regionally distinct multi-stressor patterns can help guide laboratory and field studies as well as the interpretation of interactive multi-stressors in global models.

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Acknowledgements

S.C.D. acknowledges support from the Center for Microbial Oceanography Research and Education (C-MORE; grant EF-0424599), a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center. P.W.B. acknowledges support from IMAS, University of Tasmania. S.T.L. acknowledges support from H. Biester and Heinrich-Boell-Foundation.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania 7005, Australia

    • Philip W. Boyd
  2. Institute for Geoecology, TU Braunschweig, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany

    • Sinikka T. Lennartz
  3. Geomar, Helmholtz-Center for Oceanographic Research, 24105 Kiel, Germany

    • Sinikka T. Lennartz
  4. Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA

    • David M. Glover
    •  & Scott C. Doney

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Contributions

P.W.B. and S.C.D. designed the study; S.T.L. carried out the statistical analyses and provided the display items; D.M.G. carried out the statistical analysis; P.W.B. wrote the manuscript with contributions from S.C.D., S.T.L. and D.M.G.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Philip W. Boyd.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2441

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