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Differential vulnerability to climate change yields novel deep-reef communities

Marzloff, MP ORCID: 0000-0002-8152-4273, Oliver, ECJ ORCID: 0000-0002-4006-2826, Barrett, NS ORCID: 0000-0002-6167-1356, Holbrook, NJ ORCID: 0000-0002-3523-6254, James, L, Wotherspoon, SJ ORCID: 0000-0002-6947-4445 and Johnson, CR ORCID: 0000-0002-9511-905X 2018 , 'Differential vulnerability to climate change yields novel deep-reef communities' , Nature Climate Change, vol. 8, no. 10 , pp. 873-878 , doi: 10.1038/s41558-018-0278-7.

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The effects of climate-driven ocean change on reef habitat-forming species are diverse and can be deleterious to the structure and functioning of seafloor communities. Although responses of shallow coral- or seaweed-based reef communities to environmental changes are a focus of ecological research in the coastal zone, the ecology of habitat-forming organisms on deeper mesophotic reefs remains poorly known. These reefs are typically highly biodiverse and productive as a result of massive nutrient recycling. Based on seafloor imagery obtained from an autonomous underwater vehicle, we related change in community composition on deep reefs (30–90 m) across a latitudinal gradient (25–45° S) in southeastern Australia to high-resolution environmental and oceanographic data, and predicted future changes using downscaled climate change projections for the 2060s. This region is recognized as a global hotspot for ocean warming. The models show an overall tropicalization trend in these deep temperate reef communities, but different functional groups associate differentially to environmental drivers and display a diversity of responses to projected ocean change. We predict the emergence of novel deep-reef assemblages by the 2060s that have no counterpart on reefs today, which is likely to underpin shifts in biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Marzloff, MP and Oliver, ECJ and Barrett, NS and Holbrook, NJ and James, L and Wotherspoon, SJ and Johnson, CR
Keywords: climate change, deep-reef communities, environmental changes
Journal or Publication Title: Nature Climate Change
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 1758-678X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1038/s41558-018-0278-7
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2018 Springer Nature Limited

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