Effect of a heat wave on marine community structure

Heat waves are discrete extreme events that can notoriously alter the function and structure of communities. Yet, evidence from marine habitats is mostly lacking. We took advantage of our monitoring program off south Western Australia to evaluate changes in reef-inhabiting communities after a heat wave that dramatically increased temperatures in early 2011. We demonstrate that biodiversity patterns of temperate seaweeds, sessile invertebrates and demersal fish were significantly different after the warming event, which led to a reduction in the abundance of habitat-forming seaweeds and a subsequent shift in community structure towards a depauperate state and a tropicalization of fish communities. To find out more check out: “An extreme climatic event alters marine ecosystem structure in a global biodiversity hotspot” (Nature Climate Change) – feel free to download from the articles page”.

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