Dynamic habitat suitability modelling reveals rapid poleward distribution shift in a mobile apex predator

Hill, Nicholas J., Tobin, Andrew J., Reside, April E., Pepperell, Julian G., and Bridge, Tom C.L. (2016) Dynamic habitat suitability modelling reveals rapid poleward distribution shift in a mobile apex predator. Global Change Biology, 22 (3). pp. 1086-1096.

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Many taxa are undergoing distribution shifts in response to anthropogenic climate change. However, detecting a climate signal in mobile species is difficult due to their wide-ranging, patchy distributions, often driven by natural climate variability. For example, difficulties associated with assessing pelagic fish distributions has rendered fisheries management ill-equipped to adapt to the challenges posed by climate change, leaving pelagic species and ecosystems vulnerable. Here we demonstrate the value of citizen science data for modelling the dynamic habitat suitability of a mobile pelagic predator (black marlin, Istiopmax indica) within the south-west Pacific Ocean. The extensive spatial and temporal coverage of our occurrence data set (n=18717), collected at high resolution (~1.85km2), enabled identification of suitable habitat at monthly time-steps over a 16-year period (1998-2013). We identified considerable monthly, seasonal and inter-annual variability in the extent and distribution of suitable habitat, predominately driven by chlorophyll-a and sea surface height. Inter-annual variability correlated with El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, with suitable habitat extending up to ~300 km further south during La Nina events. Despite the strong influence of ENSO, our model revealed a rapid poleward shift in the geometric mean of black marlin habitat, occurring at 88.2 km decade−1. By incorporating multiple environmental factors at monthly time-steps, we were able to demonstrate a rapid distribution shift in a mobile pelagic species. Our findings suggest that the rapid velocity of climate change in the south-west Pacific Ocean is likely affecting mobile pelagic species, indicating that they may be more vulnerable to climate change than previously thought.

Item ID: 41302
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-2486
Keywords: distribution shift, climate change, apex predator, MaxEnt, habitat suitability, black marlin (Istiompax indica), tunas and billfishes, species distribution modelling, boundary current
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2015 03:02
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310901 Animal behaviour @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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