Climate Velocity and the Future Global Redistribution of Marine Biodiversity
Nature Publishing Group
Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research
Anticipating the effect of climate change on biodiversity, in particular on changes in community composition, is crucial for adaptive ecosystem management but remains a critical knowledge gap. Here, we use climate velocity trajectories, 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 Pathways (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 studies. 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 impacts 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. © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited.