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Research highlights

Click on the images to access the papers - full list of publications through the links on the right

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Nature Climate Change (Brito-Morales et al. 2020). Much of the focus on climate change-related impacts to the ocean has concentrated on the surface waters, with a perception that slower warming in the deep ocean means lower risk to biodiversity. In this paper we conduct a global analysis to show that indeed contemporary climate velocities have been faster deeper than at surface and, worrisome enough, will keep accelerating into the future irrespective of the emission scenario followed. These results highlight the urgent need for comprehensive and integrated conservation and climate adaptation strategies for deep ocean biodiversity.

Nature Sustainability (Oremus et al. 2020). Conventional fisheries management assumes stocks as a static resource, renewable under appropriate management. But what happens when climate change drives fishery stocks out of these countries? We show that this situation will become increasingly likely for many countries in the future, particularly in the tropics where projected exits are highest and entries are fewest. Yet existing multinational agreements and policy frameworks are poorly equipped for this challenge. We suggest a way forward that draws on climate policy.

Nature Climate Change (Burrows et al. 2019). Understanding how biological communities respond to climate warming is crucial for improving management and conservation. Using 29 years of fish and plankton data from the north Pacific and Atlantic regions we found that communities composition and structure is changing rapidly as oceans warm with warm-water species replacing in number and presence cold-water species. Importantly, we found these changes to be largely predictable using constituent species' thermal ranges to asses community-level change in thermal affinity and composition.

​Methods in Ecology and Evolution (García Molinos et al. 2019). The velocity of climate change is a metric describing the temporal rate of change in climatic conditions across space widely used to analyze climate residence time, climate refugia, historic and projected species' range shifts, or climate connectivity. We have put together an R package containing all the necessary functions for calculating climate velocity and related metrics such as climate trajectories. Why not trying it out on your data?

PNAS (Kumagai et al. 2018). Climate change and ocean currents are causing rapid marine community shifts in Japan’s coastal ecosystems. Here, we used long-term historical records of macroalgae, coral and associated herbivorous fish collected across the Japanese archipelago to understand better how the combination of these two factors is driving community shifts through changes in species distribution dynamics.

Science Advances (Gaines et al. 2018). Previous studies have shown how climate change can impact global fisheries. However, the scope of management reforms to alleviate these impacts remains largely unknown. Using a bioeconomic model applied to over 900 global stocks we show how the implementation of fully climate-adaptive management strategies can yield, on average, more healthy and profitable stocks than those currently existing even under extreme climate warming scenarios.

Scientific Reports (García Molinos et al. 2017). Many species are responding to climate change by shifting their distributions, which often translates into movements towards higher latitudes, deeper waters or higher terrain. However, observed distribution shifts are not always consistent with these expectations. We have conducted a global meta-analysis of documented distribution shifts in marine biota revealing novel evidence for one extra piece of this puzzle: the role of external directional forces such as air and ocean currents in facilitating or limiting range shift responses to warming.

Limnology and Oceanography (Xu et al. 2016). Understanding how different ecosystems subsidize each other in terms of resources, energy and nutrient flow, refugia or species interactions is crucial for a holistic understanding of ecosystem functioning on which to base better management and conservation practices. Using historical and current data from over 20 Chinese floodplain lakes, we analyzed changes in taxonomic and trophic properties of fish assemblages along a habitat linkage gradient, from pelagic to benthic, and how those changes are influenced by the increasing human alteration of these lakes over recent decades.

Nature Climate Change (García Molinos et al. 2016). How will global patterns of marine biodiversity rearrange under future climate change? That's short of a million dollar question but we made a first-cut attempt using a simple thermal niche model for projecting changes in the distribution of +12,000 species based on climate velocity trajectories, species' thermal tolerances and depth zonation. This video resumes our work nicely.

Arctic Research Center, Hokkaido University

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