Climate change restricts migrant species access to oceans

February 13, 2014 by David Stacey
Climate change restricts migrant species access to oceans

(Phys.org) —Climate change has led to more than a third of the world's oceans becoming inaccessible to species that migrate seeking favourable climates.

This is the finding of an international team of researchers including Winthrop Professor Carlos Duarte, Director of The University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute.

The team analysed the planet's land and ocean climates over 50 years and mapped ocean and land areas in terms of their role as corridor, sinks or sources of migrating in search of favourable as a result of change, arguably the biggest threat to biodiversity this century. The study 'Geographical limits to species-range shifts are suggested by climate velocity' has been published in Nature.

Marine species including mammals, fish and birds, migrate for various reasons: feeding, mating, birthing, nesting, changing ocean or climate conditions and avoiding human-generated threats such as overfishing, boat strikes and pollution including noise pollution. Some species migrate over tens of thousands of kilometres.

The scientists used the global distribution of the speed of climate change to work out the location, or trajectories, of climatic niches from 1960 and projected up to 2100. They used the properties of these trajectories to infer changes in species distribution and to suggest areas of potential loss of species richness.

They identified areas of climate source - where new conditions are generated - and areas of climate sink, where local climate conditions disappear, potentially blocking the movement of climate migrants; as well as climatic corridors, as the location species migrating in search of favourable climatic conditions will follow. Coastlines, particularly those with east to west orientation, such as the southern coast of Australia, act as climate sinks for land and .

Their work provides a quick and comprehensive method to quantify and map patterns of and predict which regions of the planet could be most at risk from its effects.

Based on their analysis, the scientists suggested it would be possible to design corridors on land and in the ocean that would enable migration and to anticipate changes in climatic conditions so that existing protected areas could be redeployed and migratory routes could be protected to allow adaptation, through migration, of species to shifting climatic conditions.

Explore further: Birds on the move

More information: "Geographical limits to species-range shifts are suggested by climate velocity." Michael T. Burrows, David S. Schoeman, Anthony J. Richardson, et al. Nature (2014) DOI: 10.1038/nature12976

Related Stories

Birds on the move

September 21, 2012

(Phys.org)—Over the past 60 years, areas that have a climate suitable for certain Australian bird species have shifted much faster than previously thought, and not exactly in the expected direction.

Australia's gum trees 'at risk'

December 17, 2013

Many of Australia's iconic eucalypt ecosystems could change beyond recognition due to increased climate stress.

New maps highlight habitat corridors in the tropics

February 3, 2014

A team of Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) scientists created maps of habitat corridors connecting protected areas in the tropics to incorporate biodiversity co-benefits into climate change mitigation strategies. Drs. Patrick ...

Recommended for you

Genomes uncover life's early history

August 24, 2015

A University of Manchester scientist is part of a team which has carried out one of the biggest ever analyses of genomes on life of all forms.

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in three decades

August 25, 2015

In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers ...

Why a mutant rice called Big Grain1 yields such big grains

August 24, 2015

(Phys.org)—Rice is one of the most important staple crops grown by humans—very possibly the most important in history. With 4.3 billion inhabitants, Asia is home to 60 percent of the world's population, so it's unsurprising ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.