Systematic evaluation of marine range shifts in Australia

Mr Connor Gervais1, Curtis  Champion2,3, Dr. Gretta  Pecl2,4

1Macquarie University , Sydney, Australia, 2Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart , Australia, 3CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart, Australia, 4Centre for Marine Socioecology, University of Tasmania,, Hobart, Australia


Our planet’s environmental land- and sea-scapes are changing on local, regional and global scales, with climate shifts leading to large-scale re-distribution of biota. Distribution changes occur, on average, faster in the ocean and appear to be increasingly more common. In Australia, marine species range shifts are gaining interest, as the implications not only affect ecosystem structure and function, but are also already impacting large-scale fisheries. Here, we conducted a systematic literature search to investigate trends in marine range shifts in Australia and highlight gaps in the literature. Since 2003, there have been 48 studies, documenting marine range shifts that have already occurred or projecting future range shifts. To date, approximately 200 species have been observed shifting their distribution, with the majority of studies centered around populated cities or areas of commercial importance. Additionally, most studies were conducted in Tasmanian waters, possibly a result of the fast warming waters of the region, due to the strengthening of the East Australian current, and because it is Australia’s most southerly point. Moreover, because of the strong research focus in southerly regions, most species observed shifting were temperate species. However, although many baseline observations are based on historical records (e.g., fishery catch records, herbarium records), many regions lack appropriate baseline data to discern changes in species distribution. Our results suggest substantial research gaps in terms of information on tropical species and northerly regions of Australia. Understanding current patterns of redistribution in marine species is essential to predicted future changes in species communities and ecosystems.


Connor Gervais from Macquarie University, Sydney Australia. I primarily study the strategies fish utilize in response to environmental stressors, with a particular focus on the development of elasmobranchs. Specifically I am interested in how temperature may impacts their physiology and behaviour during these early life stages. While, focused on specific species traits, I really want to understand how these traits may affect species in the wild, with a greater context as to their response(s) to climatic changes in their habitat and the knock-down effects across their life-history.

Species on the Move

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The conference brings together scientists and natural resource managers working in the disciplines of global change, biogeography and evolution, and relevant in contexts of natural resource management, biodiversity management and conservation, and theoretical ecology.

Species responses to climate change is a rapidly evolving research field, however, much of our progress is being made in independent research areas: e.g. understanding the process vs responding to the implications, terrestrial vs marine ecosystems, global meta-analyses vs in depth species-specific approaches. This interdisciplinary conference develops connections between these parallel streams, and across temporal and spatial scales.

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