Climate-driven regime shift of a temperate marine ecosystem

T. Wernberg, S. Bennett, R. C. Babcock, T. de Bettignies, K. Cure, M. Depczynski, F. Dufois, J. Fromont, C. J. Fulton, R. K. Hovey, E. S. Harvey, T. H. Holmes (+10 others)
2016 Science  
Rapid collapse of extensive kelp forests and a regime shift to tropicalized temperate reefs followed extreme heatwaves and decades of gradual warming. Abstract: Ecosystem reconfigurations arising from climate driven changes in species distributions are expected to have profound ecological, social and economic implications. Here, we reveal a rapid climate driven regime shift of Australian temperate reef communities, which lost their defining kelp forests and became dominated by persistent
more » ... y persistent seaweed turfs. Following decades of ocean warming, extreme marine heatwaves forced a 100 km range contraction of extensive kelp forests, and saw temperate species replaced by seaweeds, invertebrates, corals and fishes characteristic of subtropical and tropical waters. This community wide tropicalization fundamentally altered key ecological processes, suppressing the recovery of kelp forests.
doi:10.1126/science.aad8745 pmid:27387951 fatcat:wyf55nqagnf3xk2hnl4lpzdsjq