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Potential effects of climate change on a marine invasion: The importance of current context

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Author(s): Isabelle M. CÔTÉ, Stephanie J. GREEN

Journal: Current Zoology
ISSN 1674-5507

Volume: 58;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Non-indigenous species | Coral reefs | Dispersal | Ecological impacts of invasion

ABSTRACT
Species invasions threaten marine biodiversity globally. There is a concern that climate change is exacerbating this problem. Here, we examined some of the potential effects of warming water temperatures on the invasion of Western Atlantic habitats by a marine predator, the Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans and P. miles). We focussed on two temperature-dependent aspects of lionfish life-history and behaviour: pelagic larval duration, because of its link to dispersal potential, and prey consumption rate, because it is an important determinant of the impacts of lionfish on native prey. Using models derived from fundamental metabolic theory, we predict that the length of time spent by lionfish in the plankton in early life should decrease with warming temperatures, with a concomitant reduction in potential dispersal distance. Although the uncertainty around change in dispersal distances is large, predicted reductions are, on average, more than an order of magnitude smaller than the current rate of range expansion of lionfish in the Caribbean. Nevertheless, because shorter pelagic larval duration has the potential to increase local retention of larvae, local lionfish management will become increasingly important under projected climate change. Increasing temperature is also expected to worsen the current imbalance between rates of prey consumption by lionfish and biomass production by their prey, leading to a heightened decline in native reef fish biomass. However, the magnitude of climate-induced decline is predicted to be minor compared to the effect of current rates of lionfish population increases (and hence overall prey consumption rates) on invaded reefs. Placing the predicted effects of climate change in the current context thus reveals that, at least for the lionfish invasion, the threat is clear and present, rather than future [Current Zoology 58 (1): 1–8, 2012].

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