FutureBlue website launched!

We are very excited to announce the launch of our project website: futureblue.net. FutureBlue is an online database and mapping platform designed to make projections of future ocean conditions (species distributions, wind speed, oceanography, etc.) available and useful for the broadest array of stakeholders possible. The project is led by Rutgers, UCONN, and The Nature Conservancy, along with a large interdisciplinary team from academic, governmental, and non-profit organizations, including world experts in climate science, social science, oceanography, marine ecology and management, and online data portal development. FutureBlue originated as part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Convergence Accelerator program in 2021, and we are currently in the process of securing funding for Phase II to expand and improve the tool.

New papers highlighting ecoevolutionary adaptation to climate change

Two new papers from the lab discuss how best to understand, and to mitigate, the effects of climate change by applying ecoevolutionary theory.

The first, published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution (doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2022.04.011) proposes that dominant ecoevolutionary processes for coping with climate change differ among terrestrial, freshwater, and marine taxa, but that a unified framework, spanning realms, is needed to fully understand them. The review was authored by Malin and coauthors Lise Comte (Illinois State U.) and Dov Sax (Brown U.).

The second, published in Ecological Applications (doi: 10.1002/eap.2650), investigated the merits of two restoration strategies for corals in a changing ocean: ‘demographic restoration’, in which coral is grown elsewhere and transplanted to a site; and ‘assisted evolution’, in which tolerant genotypes are transplanted. This paper, led by Lukas DeFilippo (NOAA) and coauthored by several current and former Pinsky lab members, used an ecoevolutionary simulation model to tackle the question. The model revealed that realistic levels of ‘demographic restoration’ offered little benefit, while transplanting thermally resistant corals helped, but only if maintained for a century. The study concluded that restoration approaches focused on building genetic variation would likely work better by allowing corals to naturally adapt to warming temperatures over time.

Two perspective pieces in Science

A snippet of the second article, coauthored with Alexa Fredston.
Crab photo: Pascal Kobeh/Minden Pictures.

Malin has coauthored two new perspective pieces in Science.

The first, with Nina Therkildsen of Cornell, highlights the underappreciated effects of fishing on evolutionary dynamics within (and among) exploited species. The second, with Alexa Fredston, discusses the stark choice we face between runaway climate change and a likely marine mass extinction on the one hand, and a much less consequential 2 degree rise in global temperatures on the other.

The second article was picked by the Washington Post, Inside Climate News, and National Geographic.

New paper: predator-prey interactions are key to predicting fish responses to climate change

Screenshot from a press release on the paper (link below).

A new paper by lab members suggests that predator-prey interactions will complicate species’ ability to track their climate niches poleward in warming oceans. The upshot could be less productive fisheries in a warmer world.

Former postdoc Ed Tekwa, along with James Watson (Oregon State) and Malin Pinsky, developed a spatial food-web model that considers species’ size, metabolism, preferred temperatures, and other factors. Trophic interactions (considerations of “who eats who”) are expected to hamper species’ ability to shift in response to warming temperatures. One interesting prediction of the model is that the trailing edges of top predator ranges are expected to shift slower than the ranges of their smaller prey.

The work was recently published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. It was also picked up by the BBC World Service (story at time: 26:30 – 29:50), WHYY, and was the subject of a Rutgers press release.

FishGlob meets!

After many Zoom meetings, members of the Pinsky Lab finally got to meet in person with the FishGlob group!

After multiple years of Zoom meetings, postdoc Alexa Fredston, grad student Zoë Kitchel, and Malin met in person with the FishGlob consortium this past week. The working group, funded by the Centre for the Synthesis and Analysis of Biodiversity (CESAB), aims to bring together data from bottom trawl surveys to ask questions about the intersections among climate, fishing, and fish biodiversity at the global scale. Researchers from Colombia, Canada, the US, and France descended upon Montpellier, France to discuss how to effectively unify and standardize datasets, how to identify and understand changes (or not!) in biodiversity across ecosystems through time, and how to most effectively share data and results with a wide audience. Malin shared details about the future of Ocean Adapt, which currently allows users to see visual representations of bottom trawl data for the US and Canada. Alexa showed that marine heatwaves do not seem to have as large of an impact on biomass or community structure as we anticipated. Zoë revealed how both fishing pressure and temperature shape patterns in spatial beta-diversity of fish communities. Between meetings, the team found time for some delicious food and a group trip to the seaside fishing city of Sète where they dipped toes in the Mediterranean Sea, took a stroll along the fishing docks, and enjoyed some local oysters and sea urchins for lunch!

A visitor! The lab welcomes Jem Baldisimo.

The Pinsky Lab is very excited to host Jem Baldisimo this week! Jem is a PhD student in Kent Carpenter’s lab at Old Dominion and part of the Phillipines PIRE project. She’s visiting as part of an RCN for Evolution in Changing Seas research exchange program. During her visit, Jem will interact with lab members and learn more about various population genomic analyses, particularly computational techniques for investigating population structure and genetic diversity. She hopes to apply those skills in her own research, which involves (among other things) looking at how the aquarium trade has impacted fish populations in the Philippines.

Pictured in the photo (left to right): Brendan, Jem, Kyra, Rene, & Marial.

New paper: how warming oceans affect Tiger Shark migration

A new paper in Global Change Biology documents how Tiger Shark migrations have shifted poleward in response to 40 years of ocean warming. Notably, this has left the species more exposed to commercial fishing as its expanded range is largely outside of a protected area for the species. It may also increase the rate of negative encounters between sharks and human beachgoers. The work is the result of a collaboration between researchers at U. Miami, Mississippi State, NOAA, the Pinsky Lab at Rutgers University, and others. Read the full paper here and watch a short video on it here.

Cover of Global Change Biology

Lab members attend FishGlob: a worldwide assessment from scientific trawl surveys

This past week Alexa Fredston (Postdoctoral Researcher), Zoë Kitchel (Ph.D. Candidate), and Malin met with a group of international researchers as a part of the FishGlob project hosted by the Centre for the Synthesis and Analysis of Biodiversity based in Montpelier, France. The team, Zooming in from Brazil, Seattle, Connecticut, Nova Scotia, France, Vancouver, and beyond is working to better understand changes in species distributions and biodiversity in the ocean by collecting and combining over 70 bottom trawl surveys from across the world.

Alexa presented on a project examining the impacts of marine heat waves on fish biomass in North America and Europe. She has found that substantial decreases in biomass are only associated with the most intense heatwaves. Zoë presented on a project testing for spatial homogenization of fish communities across a diverse array of trawl surveys. While some regions are experiencing homogenization, likely a result of anthropogenic impacts on the ocean, a number of regions are experiencing differentiation, or no directional change in community composition over time.

This exciting collaboration will allow us to better understand range shift dynamics, especially of species crossing international borders and better shape strategies to manage these cross boundary species and future fish communities.