Navigation Links
UCSB study finds climate change is causing modifications to marine life behavior

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) Oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth's surface, yet our knowledge of the impact of climate change on marine habitats is a mere drop in the proverbial ocean compared to terrestrial systems. An international team of scientists set out to change that by conducting a global meta-analysis of climate change impacts on marine systems.

Counter to previous thinking, marine species are shifting their geographic distribution toward the poles and doing so much faster than their land-based counterparts. The findings were published in Nature Climate Change.

The three-year study, conducted by a working group of UC Santa Barbara's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and funded by the National Science Foundation, shows that warming oceans are causing marine species to change breeding, feeding, and migration timing as well as shift where they live. Widespread systemic shifts in measures such as distribution of species and phenology the timing of nature's calendar are on a scale comparable to or greater than those observed on land.

"The leading edge or front-line of marine species distributions is moving toward the poles at an average of 72 kilometers (about 45 miles) per decade considerably faster than terrestrial species, which are moving poleward at an average of 6 kilometers (about 4 miles) per decade," said lead author Elvira Poloczanska, a research scientist with Australia's national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Marine and Atmospheric Research in Brisbane. "And this is occurring even though sea surface temperatures are warming three times slower than land temperatures."

The report, which involved scientists from 17 institutions, including NCEAS associates Carrie Kappel and Ben Halpern and former NCEAS postdoctoral associates Mary O'Connor, Lauren Buckley, and Camille Parmesan, forms part of the Fifth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). The Geneva-based IPCC assesses scientific, technical, and socioeconomic information concerning climate change, its potential effects, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

"The effects of climate change on marine species have not been a major focus of past IPCC reports because no one had done the work to pull together all the disparate observations from around the world," said Kappel. "This study provides a solid basis for including marine impacts in the latest global accounting of how climate change is affecting our world."

Unlike previous climate change assessments, which relied heavily on terrestrial data to estimate marine impacts, the NCEAS working group scientists gathered from seven countries to assemble a large marine-only database of 1,735 changes in marine life from the global peer-reviewed literature. The biological changes were documented from time series, with an average length of 40 years of observation.

"Here's a totally different system with its own unique set of complexities and subtleties," said Camille Parmesan, professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at University of Texas at Austin. "Yet the overall impacts of recent climate change remain the same: an overwhelming response of species shifting where and when they live in an attempt to track a shifting climate.

"This is the first comprehensive documentation of what is happening in our marine systems in relation to climate change," added Parmesan. "What it reveals is that the changes 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." Parmesan has been active in IPCC since 1997, and in her capacity as a lead author, she shared in the award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to IPCC.

The research revealed telltale traces that collectively build the case for climate change causing modifications in the ocean. These fingerprints of climate change include movements of species toward the poles as ocean temperatures rise, with an average displacement up to ten times that for terrestrial species. Phytoplankton, zooplankton, and bony fish showed the largest shifts.

Researchers also found that the timing of spring events in the oceans had advanced by more than four days, nearly twice the figure for land. The strength of response varied among species, but again, the research showed the greatest response up to 11 days in advancement occurred in invertebrate zooplankton and larval bony fish.

Multiple lines of evidence supported the hypothesis that climate change is the primary driver behind the observed changes: for example, opposing responses in warm-water and cold-water species within a community and similar responses from discrete populations at the same range edge. In total, 81 percent of all observations, whether for distribution, phenology, community composition, abundance, or demography, across different populations and ocean basins were consistent with the expected impacts of climate change.


Contact: Julie Cohen
University of California - Santa Barbara

Related biology news :

1. Study by UC Santa Barbara researchers suggests that bacteria communicate by touch
2. Law that regulates shark fishery is too liberal: UBC study
3. New study will help protect vulnerable birds from impacts of climate change
4. Study jointly led by UCSB researcher supports theory of extraterrestrial impact
5. BYU study: Using a gun in bear encounters doesnt make you safer
6. 15-year study: When it comes to creating wetlands, Mother Nature is in charge
7. Pycnogenol (French maritime pine bark extract) shown to improve menopause symptoms in new study
8. Crystal structure of archael chromatin clarified in new study
9. EU-funded study underlines importance of Congo Basin for global climate and biodiversity
10. University of Houston study shows BP oil spill hurt marshes, but recovery possible
11. Study demonstrates cells can acquire new functions through transcriptional regulatory network
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/9/2015)... 9, 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ), ... broader entry into the automotive market with a comprehensive ... pace of consumer electronics human interface innovation. Synaptics, industry-leading ... for the automotive industry and will be implemented in ... Europe , Japan , and ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... MENLO PARK, Calif. , Nov. 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... to $9 million to provide preclinical development services to ... Under the contract, SRI will provide scientific expertise, modern ... a wide variety of preclinical pharmacology and toxicology studies ... --> --> The PREVENT Cancer Drug ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Calif. , Oct. 29, 2015  The J. ... new report titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned ... the Department of Health and Human Services guidance for ... in 2010. --> ... it also has the potential to pose unique biosecurity ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/27/2015)... 27, 2015 ... of companion diagnostics is one of the ... with pharmaceutical companies and diagnostic manufacturers working ... . --> ... on global cancer biomarkers market spread across ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- 2 nouvelles études permettent d , ... entre les souches bactériennes retrouvées dans la plaque ... . Ces recherches  ouvrent une nouvelle voie ... efficace de l,un des problèmes de santé les ...    --> 2 nouvelles études permettent d ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... of Black Aerospace Professionals (OPBAP) has been formalized with the signing of a ... leaders met with OPBAP leaders Capt. Karl Minter and Capt. Albert Glenn Tuesday, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... , ... The United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced Dr. Bruce Clarke, ... annually since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award recognizes an individual’s distinguished service to ... Clarke, of Iselin, N.J., is an extension specialist of turfgrass pathology in the department ...
Breaking Biology Technology: