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Matthew Pepperdine

Are marine species changing their geographical range in response to climate change?

In recent years, there has been a growing concern with the effect of climate change on the Earth's species- this is exemplified by the increased number of journals and reports published on this matter, combined with a plethora of recent news articles. The geographical range of marine species in particular has been affected by the change in our climates. My aim is to evaluate whether these marine organisms are relocating, and is it actually climate change that is causing these alterations. I will be concentrating mainly on fish species because these appear the most prone to habitual shifts as a result of change in water temperature. So where are these species allegedly moving to? Parmesan et al. (2003) comments that something is driving species ranges towards the poles- this immediately suggests that these marine species are actively seeking colder waters. A study was undertaken by Perry et al. (2005) to analyse the exact latitudinal shift of demersal fish in the North Sea (see Figure 1). Here we can see that Figure 1. there is a distinct upwards latitudinal trend species' A, B and C geographical range- cod, anglerfish and snake blenny respectively. The increase in winter water temperature was tracked over the course of a 5 year period and it's easy to see the positive correlation between the heating water and the habitual range of these fish. In total, Perry et al. (2005) documented 15 different North Sea fish and 13 of these followed the same patterns that the cod, anglerfish and snake blenny did. In fact, the 2 species that didn't fit the trend (Norway pout and common sole), have their range attributed to other external factors. Therefore, discounting these 2 anomalies, all of the fish remaining in the study have moved further North over 5 years due to water temperatures rising. Similar studies have been performed in other oceans across the Earth and these too have relatively similar findings. NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service and Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans combined data about large samples taken over a wide range of 9 regions across North and Central America between 1968 and 2011 (Pinsky et al. 2013)(See figure 2). With the huge numbers of organisms sampled (around 128 million) and the vastly different sample sites, the data wasn't as clear-cut as the study that Perry et al. documented. The majority of species, such as the American lobster, did indeed shift

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northwards. However, others like the big skate moved southwards on the west coast of North America. Indeed, there were some instances where the species didn't change its geographical range at all, like the Pacific cod around the coast of Alaska. Based on the studies that I have investigated so far, I would deem this down to either: the Pacific cod isn't affected by these changes in temperature, or the cold water on the Alaskan coastline isn't heating up as a result of climate change. While looking further into this study, I saw that there another degree of complexity in the species' geographical shift. In the Gulf of Mexico for example, organisms cannot shift northwards without moving through the Florida straits. This would bring them into warmer water which ultimately defeats the point in the shift northwards anyway. Instead, organisms living on the Gulf's coastline have moved into deeper, cooler waters (Pinsky et al. 2013)- a whole other way to avoid the warming waters.

Figure 2.

One step on from what I mentioned about different levels of complexity of shifts; Rijnsdorp et al. (2009) suggests that it could be impossible to detect generalities about species of fish in response to climate change. This is because there are a vast number of influential factors affecting shifts and each individual fish species can have dramatically different responses to the sea temperature change. The can be exemplified from examples earlier: the common sole shifted southwards because the cleanup of the Thames estuary caused it to emerge as a major nursery ground (Perry et al. 2005). Similarly, the species in the Gulf of Mexico that found cooler comforts in deeper water, were denied a route north by the shape of the gulf. (Pinsky et al. 2013). These are both examples where the species cannot be generalised due to major prevailing external influential factors. However, it has been suggested that common patterns can, in fact, be derived by developing a multitude of hypotheses about the effect of different abiotic factors (climatic, temperature etc) on these fish populations (Rijnsdorp et al. 2009). Now, climate change affects the aforementioned abiotic factors and these in turn are very closely linked with the distribution of fish populations. This means that the abiotic factors are driving biotic changes, but these will of course vary vastly in

Matthew Pepperdine

different marine ecosystems such as open ocean, costal shorelines and ice shelf seas (Walther et al. 2002). These abiotic factors are usually general to all ocean habitats, but some are more specialised. Temperature and stratification will be a significant factors in all ocean regions. Sea ice factors are a lot more niche, only being valid in the northernmost regions where temperatures are sub-zero. Because the ideas of the hypotheses previously mentioned is to analyse why and how these species respond to the climate change, the sea ice factor is rarely used because fish generally move towards these northern regions, rather than away from them. Wind strength and direction also have an influence on both the open sea, and tidal swell in coastal areas. Finally, salinity is also a factor, albeit a less prominent one, due to only affecting early life stages in some fish (Mackenzie et al. 2007). If you take each of these factors in turn, and fashion a suitable hypothesis for each relevant one, then as Rijnsdorp et al. (2009) state, common patterns can be found and climate effect on fish species can be generalised to a greater extent. In order to study the movement of fish and their alteration of geographical ranges, it's first important to identify the extent to which the ocean temperatures are changing as a result of climate change. Global sea surface temperature is around 1 degree Celsius higher than it was 100 years ago. Comparatively, this doesn't seem like huge amount, but the effects are much more of an impact on the bodily systems of small, sensitive fish. Part of the reason why so much research effort has gone into looking into fish range shifts in the Baltic regions and the North Sea, is that sea surface temperature is rising 10 times quicker in European seas in the past 25 years, than anywhere else in the world (European Environmental Agency, EEA, 2011). This is having a greater effect on the number of fish species shifting their geographical ranges because of the temperature. In the early 21st century, the sea and ocean temperature is only being affected in the upper 100m, but as the century draws to a close, the temperature changes are predicted to extend deeper into the sea (International Panel for Climate Change, IPCC, 2007), causing adverse effects to the fish that Figure 3. dwell deeper. Especially those with no means to head further north, such as the Gulf of Mexico species detailed previously. In addition to the problems raised by the temperature increase encroaching deeper into the sea, there are also substantial issues with melting ice in the Arctic Sea. Icefree summers are expected in the mid-late parts of this century as a result of a warmer Gulf Stream and increased heat transfer from the atmosphere (EEA, 2011). The predicted lack of sea ice in the future is going to be a critical problem for fish

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species shifting northwards in the Arctic ocean because with no ice above the water, not much is stopping the surface temperature from rising at the same increased rate that is happening in so many of Europe's seas. Fish which are native to the cold Arctic waters, such as the Arctic cod, are particularly at threat, seeming as they have no colder waters to shift to, and the increase in water temperature could prove damaging to their life cycle. Figure 3 (Met Office) shows clearly the decrease in temperature as you increase the latitudinal scalea pattern closely mirrored by the direction of the Gulf Stream. It's not just the waters above the Tropic of Cancer that are shifting north, but species are also moving south from areas around the Tropic of Capricorn. The Tasman sea near southeast Australia is of particular note, because it has risen by a temperature of around 2 degrees in 60 years (Lixin et al. 2012). A program in Australia has been set up called Redmap- standing for Range Extension Database and Mapping Project. The idea behind this scheme is to get the general public assist the researchers on gathering data about the marine species extending their distribution range. Because the temperatures have increased so rapidly in the Tasman sea recently, many species- not just fish, but large swathes of barnacles, gastropods and seaweed beds, have all been found further south (Pitt et al. 2010). Incredibly, 55% of invertebrates on the east coast of Tasmania were found to have undergone a geographical range shift as well, a number much greater than in a previous, older study done in the 1950's. In the summer of 2011, Australia suffered from an unusually hot summer, bringing the sea surface temperature up momentarily. Compared to the normal sea temperature (see Figure 4.), the sea surface in 2011's summer months was nearing a staggering 2.5 degrees Celsius warmer in some parts. Whilst most marine organisms are highly sensitive to small changes in environment anyway, namely: temperature, salinity, CO2 concentration and pH, the rapid increase of heat caused something of a mass exodus of many of these creatures. At first glance, it may seem like the abnormally warm summer in Australia was a freak incident- an anomaly of sorts, it turns out that it was indeed, another effect of climate change (Hobday et al. 2012). Based on the studies, hypothesis tests and reports I've looked at, I would say that marine fish species are, on the whole, shifting their geographical ranges towards the poles. In the
Figure 4.

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vast majority of different range shift experiments that I've considered, there is overwhelming evidence to show that a large proportion of marine fish are shifting their habitual range. Most experiments had percentages as high as 90-95% of test species following this same pattern. It is evident that this is a direct result of climate change as well. There is no denying that Earth's waters are gradually heating up and there is a strong correlation between water surface temperature and species shift. Although there are a range of external factors that are affecting the fish, they are usually superfluous in the fish's shift to the poles, and ultimately, cooler water.

Reference list: European Environmental Agency (2011) Rising sea surface temperature: towards ice-free Arctic summers and a changing marine food chain, EEA Europa, 1. International Panel for Climate Change (2007) Fifth assessment report (AR5), IPCC, 1. Lixin, W. (2012) Enhanced warming over the global subtropical western boundary currents, Nature Climate Change, 1. Mackenzie, B., Gislason, H., Mollmann, C., Koster, F. (2007) Impact of 21st century climate change on the Baltic Sea fish community and fisheries, Global Change Biology, 13, 1-20. Parmesan, C., Yohe, G. (2003) A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems, Nature, 421, 37-42. Perry, A., Low, P., Ellis, J., Reynolds, J. (2005) Climate Change and Distribution Shifts in Marine Fishes, Science, 308, 5730, 1912-1915. Pinsky, M., Worm, B., Fogarty, M., Sarmiento, J., Levin, S. (2013) Marine species distribution changes reflect local climate conditions, NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Centre, ScienceDaily. Pitt, N., Poloczanska, E., Hobday, A. (2010) Climate-driven range changes in Tasmanian intertidal fauna, 61, 963-970. Rijnsdorp, A., Peck, M., Engelhard, G., Mllmann, C., and Pinnegar, J. (2009) Resolving the effect of climate change on fish populations, ICES Journal of Marine Science, 66, 1570-1583. Walther, G., Post, E., Convey, P., Menzel, A., Parmesan, C., Beebee, T., Fromentin, J. (2002) Ecological responses to recent climate change, Nature, 416, 389-395.

Matthew Pepperdine