Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Climate-driven range changes in Tasmanian intertidal fauna

Nicole R. Pitt A D , Elvira S. Poloczanska B and Alistair J. Hobday A C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Zoology, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.

B Climate Adaptation Flagship, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, PO Box 120, Cleveland, Qld 4163, Australia.

C Climate Adaptation Flagship, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: nrpitt@utas.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 61(9) 963-970 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF09225
Submitted: 7 September 2009  Accepted: 29 January 2010   Published: 23 September 2010

Abstract

The south-eastern coast of Australia is recognised as a climate-change hotspot; warming over the past 50 years has exceeded the global average. The marine fauna in the region is responding to this warming with several subtidal species showing a pole-ward range expansion. We provide the first evidence for a similar response in intertidal invertebrates, on the basis of surveys from the eastern coast of Tasmania in 2007–2008 that replicated a set from the 1950s. Of 29 species used in the analysis, 55% were detected further south than in the 1950s. The average minimum movement of the southern (pole-ward) range edges was 116 km (range 20–250 km), representing a rate of ~29 km per decade for a warming rate of 0.22°C per decade. Barnacles and gastropods showed the greatest range extensions, with one species absent from Tasmania in the 1950s, the giant rock barnacle, Austromegabalanus nigrescens, now recorded widely along the eastern coast of Tasmania. The distance that the southern (pole-ward) range limit moved south for each species was not related to a qualitative dispersal potential index. Local extinction of some species in north-eastern Tasmania may also occur in the coming decades.

Additional keywords: climate change, distribution change, latitudinal range, pole-ward movement.


Acknowledgements

The Department of Climate Change provided funds for this project and a student stipend. We gratefully acknowledge several volunteers that helped in the field, namely Tom Berli, Jonah Yick and Scott Oost. Review and comments by Anthony Richardson, Greg Skilleter, Andrew Boulton, Jessica Farley, Ruth O’Riordan and an anonymous referee improved the final manuscript.


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