Genetic diversity is the raw material for evolution, and it allows species to adapt to changing environmental conditions. But can fisheries cause species to lose genetic diversity? In our meta-analysis just out this week in Molecular Ecology (OnlineEarly), we find strong evidence that the answer is yes. Previously, studies on individual populations have had somewhat ambiguous results: some studies found an effect, others did not. Our finding provides more evidence that the evolutionary impacts of overharvest are important for fisheries management, and may explain why some heavily overfished populations (e.g., Newfoundland cod) have had such a hard time recovering.
As ocean temperatures change, fish that provide food for people around the world are moving into new territories. While it’s been common to talk about broad expectations like species shifting towards the poles as the climate warms, the problem has been that many species are not shifting towards the poles, and even of those species that are, some are shifting quickly and others slowly. In a paper out today in Science, we show that the trick to more precise forecasts is to follow local temperature changes, expressed as climate velocities.
Climate velocities are the rate and direction that temperatures move across the seascape. The findings suggest that climate velocity will be a powerful tool for forecasting future range shifts and have implications for marine conservation and fisheries management. Transient populations are especially vulnerable to overexploitation.
As one example, lobster in the northeastern United States (above) moved north at a pace of 43 miles per decade. (Video by Leah Lewis and D. Richardson, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Newest paper out from the lab to quantify the amount that coastal habitats (marsh, seagrass, mangroves, and kelp) protect coastlines from flooding and erosion. This is a meta-analysis, and we derived simple methods and relationships that can be applied widely and in new, unstudied locations. And even better, it’s open access.
Nature Climate Change ran a feature story on Mike Fogarty and Malin’s earlier paper in Climatic Change Letters. To quote the story: “Adaptation to climate change in fisheries is occurring very rapidly. Research now shows that it is a complex process whose outcomes can both mitigate and exacerbate impacts on fish populations.” How people respond and the coping responses they use are an important part of the story.
It is increasingly clear that marine fish are shifting and will continue to shift poleward as climates warm. However, what these shifts mean for fisheries has long been less clear. In a new paper in Climatic Change, Mike Fogarty and Malin show how fisheries and the value of their landed catch are also moving poleward (see graph on right for four species in the northeast U.S.). These shifts push some species out of reach for coastal communities, but also provide new opportunities. This kind of information can inform decisions about how to adapt to climate change, but such adaptations take time and have costs. Local knowledge and equipment, for example, are geared to the species that have long been present in the area.
Every few years, the Federal government issues a “state of the climate” report, and for the first time ever, this will detail the impacts and expected impacts of climate change on marine ecosystem services. The technical report (Malin is a co-author) is now online at the National Climate Assessment website, the PDF is here.
Larvae disperse across patchy seascapes, and yet we typically assume that those seascapes are uniform. In a new paper in Ecological Applications, Malin and co-authors tease apart the consequences of this seemingly simple fact: Pinsky et al. 2012 Open and closed seascapes: Where does habitat patchiness create populations with high fractions of self-recruitment? As the title suggests, isolated habitat patches can have high self-recruitment, even without unusually short dispersal distances.
Guerry et al. 2012 Modeling benefits from nature: using ecosystem services to inform coastal and marine spatial planning is now out in the International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services, and Management. The paper describes a suite of tools for calculating marine ecosystem services from a seascape and sets the stage for the rest of the Marine Natural Capital Project.