Letter | Published:

Climate velocity and the future global redistribution of marine biodiversity

Nature Climate Change volume 6, pages 8388 (2016) | Download Citation

Abstract

Anticipating the effect of climate change on biodiversity, in particular on changes in community composition, is crucial for adaptive ecosystem management1 but remains a critical knowledge gap2. Here, we use climate velocity trajectories3, together with information on thermal tolerances and habitat preferences, to project changes in global patterns of marine species richness and community composition under IPCC Representative Concentration Pathways4 (RCPs) 4.5 and 8.5. Our simple, intuitive approach emphasizes climate connectivity, and enables us to model over 12 times as many species as previous studies5,6. We find that range expansions prevail over contractions for both RCPs up to 2100, producing a net local increase in richness globally, and temporal changes in composition, driven by the redistribution rather than the loss of diversity. Conversely, widespread invasions homogenize present-day communities across multiple regions. High extirpation rates are expected regionally (for example, Indo-Pacific), particularly under RCP8.5, leading to strong decreases in richness and the anticipated formation of no-analogue communities where invasions are common. The spatial congruence of these patterns with contemporary human impacts7,8 highlights potential areas of future conservation concern. These results strongly suggest that the millennial stability of current global marine diversity patterns, against which conservation plans are assessed, will change rapidly over the course of the century in response to ocean warming.

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Acknowledgements

J.G.M., M.T.B., and P.J.M. were supported by the UK National Environmental Research Council grant NE/J024082/1. J.G.M. thanks the additional support received from the International Research Fellow Programme of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS/FF1/434). D.S.S. and J.M.P. were respectively supported by the Australian Commonwealth’s Collaborative Research Network and the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. We acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling, responsible for CMIP, and thank the groups (Supplementary Table 1) for producing and making available their model output.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Scottish Association for Marine Science, Oban, Argyll PA37 1QA, UK

    • Jorge García Molinos
    •  & Michael T. Burrows
  2. Center for Environmental Biology and Ecosystem Studies, National Institute for Environmental Studies, 16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8506, Japan

    • Jorge García Molinos
  3. Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA

    • Benjamin S. Halpern
  4. Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Buckhurst Road Ascot SL5 7PY, UK

    • Benjamin S. Halpern
  5. NCEAS, 735 State St., Santa Barbara, California 93101, USA

    • Benjamin S. Halpern
  6. School of Science and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Queensland 4558, Australia

    • David S. Schoeman
  7. The Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia

    • Christopher J. Brown
    •  & Elvira S. Poloczanska
  8. GeoZentrum Nordbayern, Paläoumwelt, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Loewenichstrasse 28 91054 Erlangen, Germany

    • Wolfgang Kiessling
  9. Museum für Naturkunde, Invalidenstrasse 43 10115 Berlin, Germany

    • Wolfgang Kiessling
  10. Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth SY23 3DA, UK

    • Pippa J. Moore
  11. Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research, Edith Cowan University, Perth 6027, Australia

    • Pippa J. Moore
  12. School of Biological Sciences, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia

    • John M. Pandolfi
  13. CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship, Ecosciences Precinct, Boggo Road Brisbane, Queensland 4001, Australia

    • Elvira S. Poloczanska
    •  & Anthony J. Richardson
  14. Centre for Applications in Natural Resource Mathematics (CARM), School of Mathematics and Physics, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia

    • Anthony J. Richardson

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Contributions

J.G.M. and M.T.B. conceived the research and developed the model. B.S.H. provided species distribution and cumulative human impact data. J.G.M. conducted the analysis. All authors contributed to discussion of ideas and J.G.M. drafted the paper with substantial input from all authors.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jorge García Molinos.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2769

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