The role of cyclical climate oscillations in species distribution shifts

In addition to species reacting to anthropogenic warming, cyclical climate oscillations affecting ocean conditions have been shown to influence marine species ranges. Considering the impacts of these natural climate oscillations as well as anthropogenic warming allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the ecological processes that influence species distributions. Here, I evaluate the potential effects of local habitat variability on the nearshore presence of 7 commercial fish species along the South Atlantic Bight. Employing random forest models, I assess the relationships between historical observed presence and bottom temperature (BT), salinity, benthic habitat structure, and the NAO. The results suggest that for some species, the influence of BT on species nearshore presence depends on the phase of the NAO. Thus, the statistical responses of some species to changing ocean temperatures will largely depend on the phase of the NAO.

Related Work

Roberts, S. (2019). The role of cyclical climate oscillations in species distribution shifts under climate change. In Predicting Future Oceans (pp. 129-135). Elsevier. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-817945-1.00011-3

Roberts, S., Boustany, A., Halpin, P., & Rykaczewski, R. (2019). Cyclical climate oscillation alters species’ relationships with local habitat. Marine Ecology Progress Series. DOI: 10.3354/meps12890

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