Consequences of Climate Change for Ecosystem Functions in Tropicalised Coastal Systems

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Climate change is driving a universal redistribution of species on Earth. In marine systems, ocean warming is causing the decline of kelp forests in Australia and globally. This loss of kelp is mediated by direct effects of warming and by increases in herbivory by range-expanding tropical fishes. As a consequence, temperate kelp forests are being replaced by low-biomass algal turfs, and associated ecological communities are becoming increasingly 'tropicalised'. Despite these tropicalisation patterns being a pervasive phenomenon globally, the consequences of these shifts to important ecosystem functions remain to be established. This project will quantify the impact of kelp loss and tropicalisation on two key ecosystem functions: primary productivity and fish productivity. This will provide crucial information for the development of climate change adaptation strategies in near shore marine environments.

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Supervisory team
Adriana
Verges

Science
Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences
Suhelen
Egan

Science
Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences
Peter
Steinberg

Science
Biological,Earth and Environmental Sciences
a.verges@unsw.edu.au

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