Title

Specific niche requirements underpin multidecadal range edge stability, but may introduce barriers for climate change adaptation

Authors

Louise B. Firth, University of Plymouth
Daniel Harris, San Francisco State University
Julie A. Blaze, University of Georgia
Martin P. Marzloff, IFREMER Institut Francais de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer
Aurélien Boyé, IFREMER Institut Francais de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer
Peter I. Miller, Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Amelia Curd, IFREMER Institut Francais de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer
Mickaël Vasquez, IFREMER Institut Francais de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer
Julia D. Nunn, National Museums Northern Ireland
Nessa E. O’Connor, Trinity College Dublin
Anne Marie Power, National University of Ireland Galway
Nova Mieszkowska, Marine Biological Association
Ruth M. O’Riordan, University College Cork
Michael T. Burrows, The Scottish Association for Marine Science
Lucy M. Bricheno, National Oceanography Centre
Antony M. Knights, University of Plymouth
Flavia L.D. Nunes, IFREMER Institut Francais de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer
François Bordeyne, Sorbonne Universite
Laura E. Bush, Bangor University
James E. Byers, University of Georgia
Carmen David, IFREMER Institut Francais de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer
Andrew J. Davies, University of Rhode Island
Stanislas F. Dubois, IFREMER Institut Francais de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer
Hugh Edwards
Andy Foggo, University of Plymouth
Lisa Grant, National University of Ireland Galway
J. A. Mattias Green, Bangor University
Paul E. Gribben, UNSW Sydney
Fernando P. Lima, Universidade do Porto, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos

Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

4-1-2021

Abstract

Aim: To investigate some of the environmental variables underpinning the past and present distribution of an ecosystem engineer near its poleward range edge. Location: >500 locations spanning >7,400 km around Ireland. Methods: We collated past and present distribution records on a known climate change indicator, the reef-forming worm Sabellaria alveolata (Linnaeus, 1767) in a biogeographic boundary region over 182 years (1836–2018). This included repeat sampling of 60 locations in the cooler 1950s and again in the warmer 2000s and 2010s. Using species distribution modelling, we identified some of the environmental drivers that likely underpin S. alveolata distribution towards the leading edge of its biogeographical range in Ireland. Results: Through plotting 981 records of presence and absence, we revealed a discontinuous distribution with discretely bounded sub-populations, and edges that coincide with the locations of tidal fronts. Repeat surveys of 60 locations across three time periods showed evidence of population increases, declines, local extirpation and recolonization events within the range, but no evidence of extensions beyond the previously identified distribution limits, despite decades of warming. At a regional scale, populations were relatively stable through time, but local populations in the cold Irish Sea appear highly dynamic and vulnerable to local extirpation risk. Contemporary distribution data (2013–2018) computed with modelled environmental data identified specific niche requirements which can explain the many distribution gaps, namely wave height, tidal amplitude, stratification index, then substrate type. Main conclusions: In the face of climate warming, such specific niche requirements can create environmental barriers that may prevent species from extending beyond their leading edges. These boundaries may limit a species’ capacity to redistribute in response to global environmental change.

Publication Title

Diversity and Distributions

Volume

27

Issue

4

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