About the project
The patterns of marine animal and plant geographical distribution along the shores of Western Europe and the Mediterranean are fairly recent. During glacial phases, the sea surface temperatures along West Europe dropped markedly and the warm temperate organisms must have survived either in the Mediterranean or in areas more to the South, like the West African shore. With the reestablishment of interglacial conditions, the biogeography of West Europe became one where a succession of ranges begin or end along the stretch of coast comprised between the Mediterranean and the Baltic. Depending on their thermal tolerances, the warm water species have their northern limits along this latitudinal gradient, while the cold temperate species have their southern limits along that same gradient. If a warming process of the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean occurs on a scale that follows that predicted for the global warming, we are to expect local extinctions of the less warm adapted European species in the Mediterranean and in South West Europe, as well as northward shifts. In the last decades, both types of shifts have been documented with wamr water organisms being increasingly recorded in areas to the north of their usual range and local extinction or decreases in abundance in cold temperate species in the south. In addition, a rise in sea surface temperature will not only affect the occurrence of particular species but also the ecosystem as a whole as the complex nature of tropho-dynamic interactions and diversity patterns might change dramatically.
This project funded by the Research Council of Norway through the Institute for Marine Research.
Start: 1.1.2009. End: 31.12.2012.