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Occupancy‐derived thermal affinities reflect known physiological thermal limits of marine species
Webb, T.J.; Lines, A.; Howarth, L.M. (2020). Occupancy‐derived thermal affinities reflect known physiological thermal limits of marine species. Ecol. Evol. 10(14): 7050-7061.
In: Ecology and Evolution. John Wiley & Sons: Chichester. ISSN 2045-7758; e-ISSN 2045-7758
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee: Open access 349881 [ download pdf ]

Author keywords
    biodiversity informatics, climate change, critical temperature, gridded global sea temperature, OBIS, open biodiversity data, thermal safety margin, thermal tolerance

Authors  Top 
  • Webb, T.J.
  • Lines, A.
  • Howarth, L.M.

    Predicting how species will respond to increased environmental temperatures is key to understanding the ecological consequences of global change. The physiological tolerances of a species define its thermal limits, while its thermal affinity is a summary of the environmental temperatures at the localities at which it actually occurs. Experimentally derived thermal limits are known to be related to observed latitudinal ranges in marine species, but accurate range maps from which to derive latitudinal ranges are lacking for many marine species. An alternative approach is to combine widely available data on global occurrences with gridded global temperature datasets to derive measures of species‐level “thermal affinity”—that is, measures of the central tendency, variation, and upper and lower bounds of the environmental temperatures at the locations at which a species has been recorded to occur. Here, we test the extent to which such occupancy‐derived measures of thermal affinity are related to the known thermal limits of marine species using data on 533 marine species from 24 taxonomic classes and with experimentally derived critical upper temperatures spanning 2–44.5°C. We show that thermal affinity estimates are consistently and positively related to the physiological tolerances of marine species, despite gaps and biases in the source data. Our method allows thermal affinity measures to be rapidly and repeatably estimated for many thousands more marine species, substantially expanding the potential to assess vulnerability of marine communities to warming seas.

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