Land and sea species differ in climate change response: study

May 27, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Marine and terrestrial species will likely differ in their responses to climate warming, new research by Simon Fraser University and Australia’s University of Tasmania has found.

The study, published this week in Nature , provides insights into why and how are moving around the globe in response to global warming.

Researchers gathered published data from tests determining the physiological temperature limits – tolerance to heating and cooling levels - on 169 cold-blooded marine and terrestrial species, then compared the data with the regions the species inhabit.

They found that while marine animals closely conformed to the temperature regions they could potentially occupy, terrestrial species live farther from the equator than their internal thermometers suggest they can live. In other words warm temperatures aren't limiting them from living in closer to the equator.

“Finding that marine and terrestrial species are limited by their cold tolerance suggest that warming will allow expansions of animals towards the poles to take advantage of newly opened up habitats,” says lead author Jennifer Sunday, a biologist from Simon Fraser University, Canada.

“However because land animals are not limited by heat to the same extent as marine animals, patterns of retreat in the hottest regions of species’ ranges may differ between land and sea.”

The research team found that while both the cold and warm boundaries of marine species are marching towards the poles, terrestrial species have been less responsive at their warm versus their cold range boundaries.

“We think a combination of things is going on,” says Amanda Bates, co-author from the University of Tasmania’s Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS). “A species niche isn’t just set by temperature. On land where water is key, species may be hindered more by dryness rather than being too hot at this range boundary.

“Second, it could be that rare heat waves are actually setting boundaries on where species can live. Finally, as Charles Darwin pointed out over 150 years ago, there may be more species and much more ecological competition toward the tropics, which may be enough to exclude species from living in the warmer end of their potential real estate.”

The authors call for research to better understand how climate change will affect animals, especially those on land where predicting responses to warming may be particularly difficult.

ranges may stretch towards the poles – expanding their cold range boundaries but responding erratically at their warm boundaries,” says Nicholas Dulvy, a marine biologist at SFU.

“These individuals will be overrun by the ‘pole-wards’ march as other species enter their territories. So we will see all sorts of new ecology as species come into contact and interact as never before.”

The team concludes by pointing out that while chaotic species combinations may be bad news for animals on land, entire assemblages of species are likely to shift in the ocean, meaning researchers can make better predictions about how species redistribute in the face of change.

Explore further: NOAA: 'Nuisance flooding' an increasing problem as coastal sea levels rise

Related Stories

Cool species can take the heat

May 17, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Two scientists from Simon Fraser University and one from Deakin University (DU) in Australia have made a discovery that is overturning conventional wisdom about how land and marine animals react to heat.

Unraveling malaria's genetic mysteries

Dec 22, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Simon Fraser University researchers in biology and computing sciences are starting to piece together a picture that may help scientists and doctors save more than a million lives annually.

Sea life 'must swim faster to survive'

Nov 07, 2011

Fish and other sea creatures will have to travel large distances to survive climate change, international marine scientists have warned. Sea life, particularly in the Indian Ocean, the Western and Eastern Pacific and the ...

Global Warming Increases Species Extinctions Worldwide

Nov 15, 2006

Global warming has already caused extinctions in the most sensitive habitats and will continue to cause more species to go extinct over the next 50 to 100 years, confirms the most comprehensive study since 2003 on the effects ...

Recommended for you

Australia approves huge India-backed mine

18 hours ago

Australia has given the go-ahead to a massive coal mine in Queensland state which Environment Minister Greg Hunt said Monday could ultimately provide electricity for up to 100 million Indians.

User comments : 14

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

NotParker
1.8 / 5 (10) May 27, 2012
So, some species will be happy about the mythical warming and some will be really happy.
MikPetter
3 / 5 (1) May 27, 2012
Extract from the published paper "Consequently, our data suggest that the impacts of climate change will be more context dependent and less certain on land than in the ocean, and that the mechanisms controlling range boundaries need to be better understood. As terrestrial species ranges stretch towards the poles, owing to poleward expansions and more-stagnant equatorward boundaries, this raises concern for the potentially harmful consequences of shifting population connectivity and viability, new species combinations and ecological surprises."
mememine69
1.8 / 5 (10) May 27, 2012

The scientific consensus of climate change we are talking about is; surrounding terms like; unstoppable warming, catastrophic climate change and a threat to the planet, with words such as; perhaps, probably and conceivably and that is what is called the science. Deny that.
While thousands of scientists all have thousands of different views on effects and never causes, how is that consensus of anything, let alone a real crisis?
The test is to find one scientist that has condemned their own children to a CO2 death along with yours and mine.
There is no consensus of Human CO2 causing a CRISIS.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.5 / 5 (6) May 27, 2012
Will ParkerTrad be happy with the 30% extinction rate predicted by the worlds Biologists?

"So, some species will be happy about the mythical warming and some will be really happy." - ParkerTard

He is mentally diseased, and needs to seek psychiatric help.

NotParker
1.9 / 5 (9) May 27, 2012
Will ParkerTrad be happy with the 30% extinction rate predicted by the worlds Biologists?


Why should I care if biologists are as dumb as you are and make stupid predictions?
gregor1
2.5 / 5 (8) May 27, 2012
VD Have you heard of Narcissistic Personality Disorder? If not, look it up. I'll give you a clue. They're prone to an abusive attitude and like to call people names.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.8 / 5 (6) May 28, 2012
ParkerTard believes that if he tells lies continually those lies will become truth.

For that reason Science is his enemy. Physics, Climatology, and now Biology.

"Why should I care if biologists are as dumb as you are" - ParkerTard

ParkerTards mental disease may be incurable, but he needs to see a psychiatrist to find out for sure.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.2 / 5 (5) May 28, 2012
While you are clearly inferior, it is not your inferiority that demands your label. It is the extent of your inferiority.

"They're prone to an abusive attitude and like to call people names." - GregorTard

I label fools as "fools", and liars as "liars". Fools and Liars who often take issue with this reality, often take issue with that reality.

Vendicar_Decarian
3.2 / 5 (5) May 28, 2012
Prognosis: Retarded. Brain damaged. Beyond redemption.

"The test is to find one scientist that has condemned their own children to a CO2 death" - mememeTard

Treatment: None. Isolation from society is prescribed.
gregor1
2.6 / 5 (5) May 28, 2012
Haha That's excellent VD! Please don't seek treatment. You're a fine example for all my students!
NotParker
2.1 / 5 (7) May 28, 2012
ParkerTard believes that if he tells lies continually those lies will become truth.

For that reason Science is his enemy. Physics, Climatology, and now Biology.

"Why should I care if biologists are as dumb as you are" - ParkerTard


I didn't say all biologists are dumb. Just the imaginary ones you fabricated are dumb.

Vendicar_Decarian
4.7 / 5 (3) May 29, 2012
Sadly, Gregor provides a fine example of why his nations education system is failing.

"You're a fine example for all my students!" - GregorTard

Interesting because my students think you are an idiot.

Perhaps this is due to the fact that I live in a country that actually values education.
Vendicar_Decarian
4.5 / 5 (2) May 29, 2012
I would be willing to bet that every credentialed Biologist would have a rather different and dim view of you.

"I didn't say all biologists are dumb" - ParkerTard

You are mentally diseased ParkerTard. Get Help.
gregor1
1 / 5 (2) May 29, 2012
Thank you VD. You prove my point with more abusive behavior