Just out last week, Malin has a Commentary in PNAS, “Throwing back the big ones saves a fishery from hot water.” In it, he explains why a recent paper by Arnault Le Bris on the Maine lobster fishery provides important insight into efforts to create climate-ready fisheries management. Practices like conserving the female lobsters and not catching the large lobsters have allowed the fishery to flourish as temperatures have warmed, and will likely continue helping the fishery into the future. Despite the overall good news for lobster and the way it has been managed in Maine, many of the stakeholders in Maine have not been as happy with the news (see Portland Press Herald articles here and here).
New paper just out online in Global Change Biology, led by postdoc Becca Selden: functional diversity among predatory fish helps protect ecosystems from the impacts of warming. Becca showed that warming has helped make Atlantic cod a much less important predator in the Northeast U.S., but other predators (spiny dogfish, hakes) have expanded to fill its role.
On a geeky note, what’s especially interesting is that these changes in predator-prey interactions with warming are occurring even though both predators and prey are shifting their distributions as the environment changes.
Ryan just published a paper in Ecology Letters showing that the number of species in many parts of the coastal ocean is going up, not down as many would expect. He spent the past few years trying to understand how marine biodiversity is changing, but his findings were initially so surprising that he doubted them.
Globally, biodiversity is going down. But because some species have started to live in more places, and different places, what happens globally isn’t what we see locally.
He studied decades of patterns in biodiversity around the North American coastline, and surprisingly, most of these regions show *increases* in the number of species present. At the same time, He found that organisms that were previously rare in these areas are becoming increasingly common.
The natural world is full of surprises.
Jordan Holtswarth joined our lab last summer as an REU student and did a wonderful job analyzing photos we had on clownfish reproduction in Leyte, Philippines. Her paper showing they breed November-May (the cold months) is just out in Bulletin of Marine Science.
Exciting news on the publication front:
- Jim’s paper on rapid responses of marine animals to winter temperature variability is now out in Global Change Biology. He found strong variation in how animals responded to a warm winter (higher or lower abundance; or shift north vs. south), but the rate and direction of response was predictable from thermal affinity.
- Ryan has been hard at work to understand long-term trends in species richness in marine ecosystems all around North America. The paper was just accepted in Ecology Letters! More on this later.
- Jordan Holtswarth was an REU student in our lab last summer, and her paper on reproduction in clownfish is now in press at Bulletin of Marine Science!
Our new paper on extinction risk in marine and terrestrial species is out today in PNAS, “Range contraction enables harvesting to extinction” [free preprint here]. Led by Matthew Burgess at UCSB, the research shows that shrinking distributions puts many animals at further risk from extinction as their abundance decline. While harvesters (fishers or hunters) are typically expected to stop harvesting when a species becomes rare and the costs of harvest become too high, contraction of a species into dense clusters can keep harvesting profitable, even at very low abundance. Examples of species with these contractions include Bengal tigers, Asian elephants, and bluefin tunas.
It is tempting to try to guess which species will be the winners of climate change, and which the losers. But our new paper in Trends in Ecology and Evolution suggests that we should avoid doing that when we design management and conservation measures. Instead, we propose harnessing the diversity and evolutionary capacity of the natural world as a climate adaptation strategy by designing “adaptation networks.” We focus on coral reefs as a particularly salient example.
Baby fish float on ocean currents. So where do they go? Our paper out this week in Current Biology uses DNA to answer that question for clownfish in Papua New Guinea, and about 20 km is the simple answer. What’s especially exciting is that we show how very common and easily measured population genetic patterns called “isolation by distance” accurately measure the larval dispersal process. We validated our answer against observations of dispersal for hundreds of individual larvae (an incredibly time-consuming endeavor). Our findings help open the door to applying the isolation by distance method to a much wider range of marine species.
This work was the result of an exciting collaboration with Serge Planes, Geoff Jones, Simon Thorrold, Pablo Saenz-Agudelo, Michael Berumen, Michael Bode, and others.
Jim Morley has a new paper just online early in Global Change Biology (here). Studying marine fish and invertebrates of the coast of the southeast US, he found that winter temperatures quickly and predictably affect species’ distribution and abundance in the following year. In particular, we found a greater abundance of southern, warm-water species following mild winters. We also found that these impacts cascade up to affect fisheries catches for many species. Interestingly, these responses appear in a region that has not been warming over the last couple decades, though 1-3 °C of warming is expected by the end of this century. Warmer winters likely will result in increased abundance of species with more southern affinities, such as white and pink shrimp, southern hake, and star drum.
Baby corals disperse with ocean currents, but does this matter for their response to climate change? Our new paper in Global Change Biology with Joanie Kleypas suggests yes.