Warming oceans are causing marine species to change breeding times and shift homes with expected substantial consequences for the broader marine landscape, according to a new global study.
The three-year research project, funded by the National Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in California, has shown widespread systemic shifts in measures such as distribution of species and phenology the timing of nature's calendar on a scale comparable to or greater than those observed on land.
The report, Global imprint of climate change on marine life, will form part of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change Assessment Report due for publication in 2014, and is published in this month's Nature Climate Change. It was undertaken by eminent scientists at 17 institutions across the world, including the University of Queensland, Plymouth University, Aberystwyth University, and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS).
One of the lead authors of the report, Professor Camille Parmesan, National Marine Aquarium Chair in Public Understanding of Oceans and Human Health within Plymouth University's Marine Institute, said the study offered a "very simple, but important message".
Professor Parmesan said: "This is the first comprehensive documentation of what is happening in our marine systems in relation to climate change. What it reveals is that the changes that are occurring on land are being matched by the oceans. And far from being a buffer and displaying more minor changes, what we're seeing is a far stronger response from the oceans."
The research team assembled a large database of 1,735 changes in marine life from the global peer-reviewed literature which helped them investigate impacts of climate change. The team found that 81% of changes were in a direction consistent with climate change.
The evidence showed that the leading edge or 'front line' of some marine species, such as phytopl
|Contact: Andrew Merrington|
University of Plymouth