Ten years of-induced ocean warming causes comprehensive changes in marine benthic communities

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Schiel, D. R., Steinbeck, J. R., & Foster, M. S. (2004). Ten years of-induced ocean warming causes comprehensive changes in marine benthic communities. Ecology, 85(7), 1833-1839.
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TitleTen years of-induced ocean warming causes comprehensive changes in marine benthic communities
AuthorsD. Schiel, J. Steinbeck, M. Foster
AbstractOne of the most commonly predicted effects of global ocean warming on marine communities is a poleward shift in the distributional boundaries of species with an associated replacement of cold-water species by warm-water species. However, these types of predictions are imprecise and based largely on broad correlations in uncontrolled studies that examine changes in the distribution or abundances of species in relation to seawater temperature. Our study used an 18-year sampling program in intertidal and subtidal habitats and before-after, control-impact analyses. We show that a 3.5°C rise in seawater temperature, induced by the thermal outfall of a power-generating station, over 10 years along 2 km of rocky coastline in California resulted in significant community-wide changes in 150 species of algae and invertebrates relative to adjacent control areas experiencing natural temperatures. Contrary to predictions based on current biogeographic models, there was no trend toward warmer-water species with southern geographic affinities replacing colder-water species with northern affinities. Instead, the communities were greatly altered in apparently cascading responses to changes in abundance of several key taxa, particularly habitat-forming subtidal kelps and intertidal foliose red algae. Many temperature-sensitive algae decreased greatly in abundance, whereas many invertebrate grazers increased. The responses of these benthic communities to ocean warming were mostly unpredicted and strongly coupled to direct effects of temperature on key taxa and indirect effects operating through ecological interactions.
JournalEcology
Date2004
Volume85
Issue7
Start page1833
End page1839
ISSN0012-9658
Subjectsbenthic environment, biogeography, climate change, community structure, ecological impact, global warming, marine ecosystem, thermal pollution, water temperature, California, North America, United States, algae, Invertebrata, Rhodophyta
NoteCited By (since 1996):91, Seaweeds, CODEN: ECOLA

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