The Effects of Sub-Regional Climate Velocity on the Distribution and Spatial Extent of Marine Species Assemblages

PLOS ONE
2016
Kleisner, Kristin M.; Fogarty, Michael J.; McGee, Sally; Barnette, Analie; Fratantoni, Paula; Greene, Jennifer; Hare, Jonathan A.; Luceyl, Sean M.; McGuire, Christopher; Odell, Jay; Saba, Vincent S.; Smith, Laurel; Weaver, Katherine J.; Pinsky, Malin L.
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SourceWeb of Science
Volume / Issue2-Nov
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DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0149220
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Publication DateFEB 22 2016
Article Datee0149220
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AbstractMany studies illustrate variable patterns in individual species distribution shifts in response to changing temperature. However, an assemblage, a group of species that shares a common environmental niche, will likely exhibit similar responses to climate changes, and these community-level responses may have significant implications for ecosystem function. Therefore, we examine the relationship between observed shifts of species in assemblages and regional climate velocity (i.e., the rate and direction of change of temperature isotherms). The assemblages are defined in two sub-regions of the U.S. Northeast Shelf that have heterogeneous oceanography and bathymetry using four decades of bottom trawl survey data and we explore temporal changes in distribution, spatial range extent, thermal habitat area, and biomass, within assemblages. These sub-regional analyses allow the dissection of the relative roles of regional climate velocity and local physiography in shaping observed distribution shifts. We find that assemblages of species associated with shallower, warmer waters tend to shift west-southwest and to shallower waters over time, possibly towards cooler temperatures in the semi-enclosed Gulf of Maine, while species assemblages associated with relatively cooler and deeper waters shift deeper, but with little latitudinal change. Conversely, species assemblages associated with warmer and shallower water on the broad, shallow continental shelf from the Mid-Atlantic Bight to Georges Bank shift strongly northeast along latitudinal gradients with little change in depth. Shifts in depth among the southern species associated with deeper and cooler waters are more variable, although predominantly shifts are toward deeper waters. In addition, spatial expansion and contraction of species assemblages in each region corresponds to the area of suitable thermal habitat, but is inversely related to assemblage biomass. This suggests that assemblage distribution shifts in conjunction with expansion or contraction of thermal habitat acts to compress or stretch marine species assemblages, which may respectively amplify or dilute species interactions to an extent that is rarely considered. Overall, regional differences in climate change effects on the movement and extent of species assemblages hold important implications for management, mitigation, and adaptation on the U.S. Northeast Shelf.
Created: 12/14/2017 10:31 AM (ET)
Modified: 12/14/2017 10:31 AM (ET)
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