What do we know about the thermal needs and biases of marine animal communities? This study used nearly 400,000 GBIF-mediated occurrences to analyse and model thermal distributions of 3,900 species of shallow-water marine fish and mobile macro-invertebrates. After compiling community temperature indices (CTIs) that test for thermal bias of marine communities against environmental temperatures, the researchers’ results showed that CTIs of most communities are either higher or lower than compared to the mean sea surface temperatures—meaning that some communities can likely handle increasing temperatures without significant loss of species, while others may be more threatened. The study identifies three ecoregions—the Gulf of Thailand, southwestern Caribbean, and North Cape of New Zealand—where warming is expected to exceed the upper limit of 50 per cent of the present species by 2025. Importantly, the locations with highest predicted loss of species align not with locations of greatest warming, but rather with areas of the highest level of thermal bias.
Stuart-Smith RD, Edgar GJ, Barrett NS, Kininmonth SJ and Bates AE (2015) Thermal biases and vulnerability to warming in the world’s marine fauna. Nature. Springer Nature. Available at doi:10.1038/nature16144.