File(s) under permanent embargo
Tropicalization of temperate reef fish communities facilitated by urchin grazing and diversity of thermal affinities
Global declines in structurally complex habitats are reshaping both land- and seascapes in directions that affect the responses of biological communities to warming. Here, we test whether widespread loss of kelp habitats through sea urchin overgrazing systematically changes the sensitivity of fish communities to warming.
Global temperate latitudes.
Major taxa studied
Community shifts in thermal affinity related to habitat were assessed by simulating and comparing fish communities from 2271 surveys across 15 ecoregions.
We found that fishes in kelp and urchin barrens differed in realized thermal affinities and range sizes, but only in regions where species pools had high variability in the thermal affinities of species. Barrens on warm temperate reefs host relatively more warm-affinity fish species than neighbouring kelp beds, highlighting the acceleration of tropicalization processes facilitated by urchin grazing. In contrast, proportionally more cool-affinity fishes colonize barrens at high temperate latitudes, contributing to community lags with ocean warming in these regions.
Our findings implicate urchins as drivers of ecological change, in part by affecting ecological resilience to warming.
Publication titleGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Department/SchoolInstitute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
PublisherWiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
Rights statement© 2022 John Wiley & Sons Ltd