Climate and environmental changes driving idiosyncratic shifts in the distribution of tropical and temperate worm reefs

An increasing number of studies have forecast the potential responses of marine life to future climate change. This study predicts how the distributional range of temperate and tropical worm reefs (WRs) might respond to climate and environmental changes (CECs). Compared with current distributions, the tested hypotheses were: (i) under a low CO2 concentration and active atmospheric carbon capturing scenario (RCP2.6), both tropical and temperate WRs will maintain their current distributions and face only slight multi-directional biogeographic changes along the century; and (ii) under a high CO2 concentration scenario (RCP8.5) WRs will shift toward higher latitudes, with marked changes for tropical species and slight changes for temperate species, specifically at the end of the 21st century. The hypotheses were tested using species distribution modelling, and exploratory statistical analyses were performed to tune model settings. Under scenario RCP2.6, in the middle of the century, areas of suitable habitat are predicted to slightly increase for the temperate WRs and conversely contract for tropical WRs. At the end of the century, multi-directional shifts without range retraction were predicted for both species, but tropical WRs showed major changes in their distribution. Under scenario RCP8.5 and throughout the century, multi-directional shifts increased the areas of suitable habitat for temperate WRs, whereas tropical WRs experienced shifts toward high latitudes and significant retraction at low latitudes. Results indicate that biogeographic range shifts are idiosyncratic for temperate and tropical WRs depending on the CECs scenarios considered.

 

Faroni-Perez L., 2017. Climate and environmental changes driving idiosyncratic shifts in the distribution of tropical and temperate worm reefs. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 97(5): 1023-1035. Article (subscription required).

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