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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00538

Arctic Sensitivity? Suitable habitat for benthic taxa is surprisingly robust to climate change

 Paul E. Renaud1, 2*,  Phil Wallhead3,  Jonne Kotta4, Maria Włodarska-Kowalczuk5,  Richard G. Bellerby3, 6, Merli Rätsep4,  Dag Slagstad7 and Piotr Kukliński5
  • 1Akvaplan niva, Norway
  • 2The University Centre in Svalbard, Norway
  • 3Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Norway
  • 4University of Tartu, Estonia
  • 5Institute of Oceanology (PAN), Poland
  • 6East China Normal University, China
  • 7SINTEF, Norway

Arctic marine ecosystems are often assumed to be highly vulnerable to ongoing climate change, and are expected to undergo significant shifts in structure and function. Community shifts in benthic fauna are likely to result from changes in key physico-chemical drivers, such as ocean warming, but there is little ecological data on most Arctic species to support any specific predictions as to how vulnerable they are, or how future communities may be structured. We used a species distribution modelling approach (MaxEnt) to project changes over the 21st century in suitable habitat area for different species of benthic fauna by combining presence observations from the OBIS database with environmental data from a coupled climate-ocean model (SINMOD). Projected mean % habitat losses over taxonomic groups were small (0-11%), and no significant differences were found between Arctic, boreal, or Arcto-boreal groups, or between calcifying and non-calcifying groups. However, suitable habitat area for 14 of 78 taxa were projected a change by over 20%, and several of these taxa are characteristic and/or habitat-forming fauna on some Arctic shelves, suggesting a potential for significant ecosystem impacts. These results highlight the weakness of general statements regarding vulnerability of taxa on biogeographic or presumed physiological grounds, and suggest that more basic biological data on Arctic taxa are needed for improved projections of ecosystem responses to climate change.Importantly, however, 14 of 78 taxa exhibited a predicted increase or decrease in suitable habitat of over 20%, and several of these taxa are characteristic and/or habitat-forming fauna on some Arctic shelves, suggesting a potential for significant ecosystem impacts. These results highlight the weakness of general statements regarding vulnerability of taxa on biogeographic or presumed physiological grounds, and suggest that more basic biological data on Arctic taxa are needed for improved projections of ecosystem responses to climate change.

Keywords: benthic invertebrates, climate warming, mulitple stressors, ocean acidification, Species-distribution modelling

Received: 30 Mar 2019; Accepted: 15 Aug 2019.

Edited by:

Elizabeth Fulton, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia

Reviewed by:

Yong Jiang, Ocean University of China, China
Kristina Ø. Kvile, University of Oslo, Norway  

Copyright: © 2019 Renaud, Wallhead, Kotta, Włodarska-Kowalczuk, Bellerby, Rätsep, Slagstad and Kukliński. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Paul E. Renaud, Akvaplan niva, Tromsø, N-9296, Norway, paul.renaud@akvaplan.niva.no