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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Species distribution models showed that the suitable habitat of the deep-water glass sponge Vazella pourtalesii will expand under climate change scenarios. Photo: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Beazley L, Kenchington E, Murillo FJ, Brickman D, Wang Z, Davies AJ, Roberts EM, Rapp HT


Climate change winner in the deep sea? Predicting the impacts of climate change on the distribution of the glass sponge Vazella pourtalesii


Sponges are considered ecosystem engineers that promote local biodiversity when occurring in large aggregations. The Scotian Shelf, Nova Scotia, Canada, is home to a globally unique aggregation of the glass sponge Vazella pourtalesii. While the habitat surrounding these sponge grounds is characterized by strong natural variability, the ability of this species to persist under anthropogenic climate change has never been evaluated. Species distribution models were used to project the distribution of V. pourtalesii in the northwest Atlantic under moderate and worst-case CO2 emission scenarios for 2046–2065. While the suitable habitat of this species was projected to increase under future climate change scenarios, its core habitat on the Scotian Shelf may potentially be less suitable for V. pourtalesii as the northwest Atlantic continues to warm.


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