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Marine Communities May be Most Vulnerable to Global Warming

First Posted: Nov 13, 2015 05:53 PM EST

It turns out that marine communities may be most at risk when it comes to climate change. Scientists have found that marine life may be most sensitive to ocean warming.

In this latest study, the researchers looked at data from the Reef Life Survey. In all, the scientists measured the geographical and thermal distributions of 2.695 shallow reef fish and 1,225 invertebrates from Greenland to Australia in order to measure the thermal bias for communities around the world.

The scientists found that locations where the average summer sea surface temperature is presently around 24 degrees Celsius, such as the southwestern Caribbean, are the most vulnerable to changing community biodiversity. This is largely because most of the species making up these communities are already living near the edge of their temperature distribution.

"In 100 years from now, 100 percent of species in many communities will be lost and replaced by new species able to tolerate warmer conditions, leading to a redistribution of species across the globe," said Amanda Bates, co-author of the new study, in a news release. "A strong focus in climate change ecology has been on quantifying the exposure of different regions of the globe to warming. Our work offers new tools for measuring the sensitivity of communities to change including accurate indicators that can be used to predict vulnerability."

The findings are published in the journal Nature.

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