In a letter recently published in Nature Climate Change, Burrows and colleagues describe how the thermal affinities of marine species can be used collectively to inform how the structure of the communities that they occupy may change in response to warming oceans.
Their study was based upon three decades of fish and plankton data, and revealed a tendency for warm-water species to increase in dominance in regions of the world where water temperatures are increasing. The authors also found that temperature-depth gradients influence biodiversity redistribution and shifts in relative species abundance within marine communities. Such gradients allow species to seek cooler temperatures by moving deeper, rather than horizontally.
Collectively, these findings highlight the strong effect that temperature changes have on marine community turnover rates, and provide “a benchmark against which the pace of reorganization of global biodiversity climate can be judged”.
You can read the full study here.