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Species-Specific Thermal Classification Schemes Can Improve Climate Related Marine Resource Decisions

Freedman, R., J.A. Brown, C. Caldow, J.E. Caselle (April 2021)

PLoS ONE 16(4):e0250792

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0250792


Global climate change increasingly contributes to large changes in ecosystem structure. Timely management of rapidly changing marine ecosystems must be matched with methods to rapidly quantify and assess climate driven impacts to ecological communities. Here we create a species-specific, classification system for fish thermal affinities, using three quantifiable datasets and expert opinion. Multiple sources of information limit potential data bias and avoid misclassification. Using a temperate kelp forest fish community in California, USA as a test case for this new methodology, we found the majority of species had high classification agreement across all four data sources (n = 78) but also a number of low agreement species (2 sources disagree from the others, n = 47). For species with low agreement, use of just one dataset to classify species, as is commonly done, would lead to high risk of misclassification. Differences in species classification between individual datasets and our composite classification were apparent. Applying different thermal classifications, lead to different conclusions when quantifying ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ species density responses to a marine heatwave. Managers can use this classification approach as a tool to generate accurate, timely and simple information for resource management.


Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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