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Volume 569 Issue 7754, 2 May 2019

Feeling the heat

As global warming grips the planet, researchers hope to help guide conservation efforts by investigating which ecosystems and species are likely to be most severely affected by rising temperatures. In this week’s issue, Malin Pinsky and his colleagues assess 387 species of cold-blooded organisms for their sensitivity to climate change — and find that marine creatures are more vulnerable than terrestrial species. The researchers calculated the thermal safety margin — the difference between the maximum temperature that an organism can tolerate and the maximum temperature it experiences — for each of the 299 terrestrial and 88 marine species in the study. On land, the species most at risk were found in the mid-latitudes but in the oceans, they were at the tropics. The team suggests that the greater vulnerability of marine species is already taking its toll because local extinctions at the warm edges of species’ ranges are already twice as common in the ocean as they are on land.

Cover image: Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), Paulo Oliveira/Alamy

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