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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 414 - Feature article
Abundance of warm water species such as the snake pipefish, red mullet and gurnards has been increasing in the northeast Atlantic in response to climate change.
Image: R. ter Hofstede

ter Hofstede R, Hiddink JG, Rijnsdorp AD


Regional warming changes fish species richness in the eastern North Atlantic Ocean


Climate change can cause changes in biodiversity due to species extinctions and latitudinal range shifts. In the marine environment, fishing is also an important driver of biodiversity changes. Ter Hofstede and co-authors show that the recent change in species richness of marine fish communities in the North Sea, Celtic Sea, and west of Scotland (eastern North Atlantic Ocean) is related to higher water temperatures, via the affinity of the fish species with either warm or cool waters. The effects of fisheries seem to be secondary to those of warming. Changes in composition of fish communities are likely to affect commercial fisheries and pose a challenge for biodiversity conservation.


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