May 2, 2017

Ocean currents modify the coupling between climate change and biogeographical shifts

by
J. García Molinos, M. T. Burrows, E. S. Poloczanska
,
Scientific Reports
  • States that biogeographical shifts are a ubiquitous global response to climate change
  • Uses a global meta-dataset of observed range shifts of marine species to show that incorporating directional agreement between flow and climate significantly increases the proportion of explained variance.
  • Proposes a simple metric that measures the degrees of directional agreement of ocean (or air) currents with thermal gradients and considers the effects of directional forces in predictions of climate-driven range shifts
  • Finds that ocean flows are to both facilitate and hinder shifts depending on their directional agreement with spatial gradients of temperature
  • Finds that effects are shaped by the locations of shifts in the range (trailing, leading or centroid) and taxonomic identity of species
  • These results support the global effects of climatic changes on distribution shifts and stress the importance of framing climate expectations in reference to other non-climatic interacting factors