Climate change-related regime shifts have altered spatial synchrony of plankton dynamics in the North Sea

Defriez, EJ, Sheppard, LW, Reid, PC and Reuman, DC 2016 Climate change-related regime shifts have altered spatial synchrony of plankton dynamics in the North Sea. Global Change Biology, 22 (6). 2069-2080.

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During the 1980s, the North Sea plankton community underwent a well-documented ecosystem regime shift, including both spatial changes (northward species range shifts) and temporal changes (increases in the total abundances of warmer water species). This regime shift has been attributed to climate change. Plankton provide a link between climate and higher trophic-level organisms, which can forage on large spatial and temporal scales. It is therefore important to understand not only whether climate change affects purely spatial or temporal aspects of plankton dynamics, but also whether it affects spatiotemporal aspects such as metapopulation synchrony. If plankton synchrony is altered, higher trophic-level feeding patterns may be modified. A second motivation for investigating changes in synchrony is that the possibility of such alterations has been examined for few organisms, in spite of the fact that synchrony is ubiquitous and of major importance in ecology. This study uses correlation coefficients and spectral analysis to investigate whether synchrony changed between the periods 1959–1980 and 1989–2010. Twenty-three plankton taxa, sea surface temperature (SST), and wind speed were examined. Results revealed that synchrony in SST and plankton was altered. Changes were idiosyncratic, and were not explained by changes in abundance. Changes in the synchrony of Calanus helgolandicus and Para-pseudocalanus spp appeared to be driven by changes in SST synchrony. This study is one of few to document alterations of synchrony and climate-change impacts on synchrony. We discuss why climate-change impacts on synchrony may well be more common and consequential than previously recognized.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Divisions: Marine Biological Association of the UK > Other (MBA)
Depositing User: Barbara Bultmann
Date made live: 04 Oct 2016 11:36
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2020 09:57

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