Real estate is tight as marine species move to cooler waters


Staghorn coral (shown) are losing suitable habitat space as they migrate to cooler waters. 

Albert Kok/Wikimedia Commons

Many marine species trekking to cooler locales amid global warming will have to settle for smaller digs, two studies suggest June 4 in Science.

In one study, researchers investigated the migration of 104 species of staghorn coral (in the genera Acropora and Isopora), which are dependent on sunlight. As they move to higher latitudes where the water is cooler, their allotment of suitable habitat (defined by temperature, sunlight and other factors) shrinks, the researchers found. The situation is similar for many fish, a second study suggests. By the end of the century, many fish species could lose about 20 percent of their habitat, the scientists estimate.

Together, the studies reveal unexpected barriers to marine species’ exodus from the warmest waters.

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