Arctic warming to enable transoceanic species exchange

This study simulates the spread of species under future climate conditions that could permit the interchange of marine biota between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Data resources used via GBIF : 950,000 species occurrences (estimate)
Sea ice off the east coast of Greenland

Sea ice off the east coast of Greenland. Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Atlantic and Pacific are connected by the Northeast and the Northwest Passage, but unsuitable conditions above the Arctic Circle have thus far prevented the interchange of marine biota between oceans. The present study simulates the spread of species under future climate conditions, creating ecological niche models for 515 fish species based on GBIF-mediated occurrences and climate projections. In the most conservative simulation, results showed that by 2100, 13 species from the Pacific will have reached the Atlantic, whereas 16 species will have traveled the other way, with the vast majority finding suitable passage through the Northeast Passage. Though the consequences of these exchanges are difficult to predict, it is likely that they will increase beyond the year 2100 due to continued warming in the Arctic.

Citations

Wisz MS, Broennimann O, Grønkjær P, Møller PR, Olsen SM, Swingedouw D, Hedeholm RB, Nielsen EE, Guisan A and Pellissier L (2015) Arctic warming will promote Atlantic–Pacific fish interchange. Nature Climate Change. Springer Nature, 261–265. Available at doi:10.1038/nclimate2500.

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